It had been about a month now since the Dean of my college had asked me to use my last semester of athletic eligibility to help out the basketball team. They had a bunch of guys get injured, a few that couldn't make the grades and they were struggling just to scrimmage at practice. No big deal I thought. I love to play basketball, it's great exercise and if nothing else I'd sit on the end of the bench during the games and cheer like Brian Scalabrine....in other words, my expectations weren't high.
The night before coach came screaming into the cafeteria we had played the opening game of a tournament and I was in the starting lineup....obviously something was askew.
The team was filled with a few good players, a bunch of great guys and a couple of real knuckleheads. Essentially, it was like every other team in the nation except we lacked an abundance of talent. Seriously, I hadn't played organized basketball in six years, I had been the shortstop for the baseball team and I walk in and become a starter....at a forward position!?!?! Our future was not exactly bright.
The opening game of the tournament was against the nationally ranked host school. We were, in fact, brought in so that they could whip us in the opening round and make their alumni proud. Unfortunately, what they didn't take into account was that while we weren't all that great at basketball, we really enjoyed beating the shit out of other teams physically. We lost the game, by 33 points, but we beat the hell out of most of their players. I considered that a victory in itself. I think we ate at a buffet after the game and then went back to the hotel to relax for a few hours before curfew.
Look, we're all dudes around here so we know what goes on when we have nothing to do. Pure mayhem. As the only Senior on the team who had participated on quite a few road trips with the baseball team, I knew to take it easy so that I didn't get in trouble. I walked across the street to get a Snickers bar and a Gatorade, I hit on the girl working at the front desk for about a half hour and then it was lights out. Other guys had other plans though.....
One guy on our team, Mike, was in nice terms...a thug. He was a good dude to me because I physically abused him in a game of 1 on 1 a few weeks earlier but he essentially preyed on weaker people and tried to exploit their weaknesses. Enter Zach Attack, a wonderful guy that was full of energy but only played about two minutes every other game. Zach was a good guy to hang out with but because he had so much energy, the dude never slept. Somehow these two got paired together during room assignments. Wait, there's more.
Our team had a 'manager/ballboy' who was mentally handicapped/challenged. I'm not sure what the correct term is to use there. He was a wonderful guy who would listen to stupid stories on the bus but he was as harmless as could be. He was put in the same room as Mike and Zach. Why? I'm not sure but maybe because he was willing to sleep in the bath tub. I tried to not analyze the situation too much.
Before I went to sleep I stopped by their room to see what was going on and it was the usual horseplay/wrestling. No broken bones so I had no worries. I'm certain everyone else on the team felt the same way when they went to sleep.
The next morning comes and in the lobby I can see the manager/ballboy talking to one of the assistant coaches, who happened to be his cousin. For some reason his eyes were bloodshot red so I just figured Zach and Mike had bullied the kid all night and he had been crying.
I hop on the team bus to go to breakfast and the rumors start working their way around about how Zach and Mike turned into Cheech and Chong overnight. That really didn't surprise me. Neither guy was playing much so they really didn't have anything to lose. Whatever, I didn't care. I wasn't the captain of this ship, I was just along for the ride.
Like I said, I was enjoying some Toucan Sam Delight when Coach barged in screaming at the top of his lungs. Really, this wasn't out of the ordinary for him as he was a pretty loud dude but I could see the fire in his eyes so I just kept my head down and ate.
He calls out Zach and tells him that he's taking a drug test. Right now. You can see the fear rise in Zach until he says....."Give me a minute, I'm going to call my lawyer."
Rrrrrrr.....it was like someone hit the brakes on the 18-wheeler. Normally in this situation a kid will succumb to the pressure and just fess up to what he did. I know Coach was expecting that to happen. I know that's what everyone was expecting to happen. That did not happen.
Next thing I knew Zach Attack was on the phone with his Dad explaining that Coach was going to make him take a drug test for no reason and that it was, in his opinion, illegal. By this time I was on my second bowl and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.
See, Mike had taken his beatdown already from Coach. Immediate suspension from the team and by ratting out Zach....he had kept from getting kicked out of the school. I have no idea if any of this was legal but it sure was entertaining. Zach was pleading with his Dad to get their lawyer involved, as they were from a wealthy family, but it seemed that Dad wasn't having it. Zach would either admit to what he did or he'd take the drug test.
Zach said he'd take the drug test.
This pissed off coach even more and by now we're twenty minutes into this debacle. We had the shoot-around in forty minutes and we really wanted to win the consolation game later that afternoon so that the entire trip wasn't a complete clusterfuck. Coach sent the assistant coach out to purchase a drug test at a local pharmacy and Zach started to eat breakfast.
Sure enough, the kid picked my table to sit at.
For the next ten minutes Coach threw down one of the harshest verbal beatdowns that I've ever heard in my life. So much so that I'm not going to repeat any of it because I don't even know what half of the curse words meant. I mean, he was right in Zach's ear and he was going to break the kid one way or another.
About five minutes before the assistant coach showed up Zach finally broke and admitted to what he did. He accepted the same punishment as Mike and they both had to apologize to the mentally handicapped manager/ballboy for giving him a contact buzz. Coach made them stand on one of the tables in the cafeteria while doing this.
We played the consolation game with eight players and we ended up losing by 22 points after being tied at halftime as we just ran out of gas. The bus ride back to Indiana was very quiet but that was just about the most entertaining breakfast I've ever had in my life.