Thursday, February 12, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Basketball, The Beautiful Game

By Ed Zelaski

I was sports reporter for Athens MidDay for the first time on Tuesday. I was a little worried at first. It’s not because I’m not a sports fan, I’m a huge sports fan. I was afraid that somehow I would shoot video that would be so horrible that I wouldn’t be able to use any of it in my story. Once I got there, though, I was able to calm down. I realized that shooting sports really wasn’t that hard. In fact, it was a lot of fun. Now that I was calm, cool and collected I was able to sit back (figuratively, not literally since I was actually standing the entire time) and enjoy the game. It got me thinking about just how much I love the game of basketball.

Why I Wanted To See A Great Game
Usually when I watch sports, it’s a team that I like. There are times when I will watch an event simply out of the sheer joy that the sport brings to me, but more often than not I don’t have time. Last night I got to go see one of my favorite sports for free. I wanted both teams to do well for, what seem like now, pretty ridiculous reasons. I wanted to see the Athens Bulldogs do well because I go to school in Athens. Athens feels like a second hometown to me, so of course I wanted to see the high school do well.

The Nelsonville-York Buckeyes, on the other hand, I wanted to do well because their colors are exactly the same as my high school. Until I came down to school, good old Midpark High School was the only high school I knew to use orange and brown. Midpark chose those colors because we used to get the Browns’ old practice jerseys to use as our football jerseys. I’m not sure why Nelsonville chose them, but it didn’t matter to me. Yes, I’m sure you think those are pretty silly reasons, but those were the thoughts going through my head as I got to the game.

My Players of the Game
This game was such a joy to watch. For the first three quarters of the game, I thought the Bulldogs looked unstoppable. Their defense was swarming. They were on the Nelsonville-York players like white on rice. Their lead continued to grow every quarter, despite the best efforts of the Buckeyes. Frank Valentour and Collin Pfaff were unstoppable. They were coming up with big play after big play. Valentour was driving the lane and scoring with ease. Pfaff was hitting jumpers left and right.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs had an intimidating thirteen point lead. There was no way that the Buckeyes could come back, I thought. I didn’t think that the Bucks could even make it a game anymore. That’s when Michael Barrick decided to make me feel like a fool. He decided that he was going to start making shots and he did. He hit a couple of three’s in the fourth quarter and helped the Buckeyes pull back to within three. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Collin Pfaff came up big again and hit two clutch free throws at the end of the game to put it beyond reach for Nelsonville. Did you miss the game? Want to see some highlights? Watch the story that I did below!

Athens v. Nelsonville-York

My Favorite Basketball Memories
Writing this blog and doing this story have made me nostalgic. It’s got me thinking about what my favorite basketball memories are. To this day I can still name the starting five for the 1991/92 Cleveland Cavaliers. If you wondered, Craig Ehlo and Mark Price were the guards (Mark Price was my favorite), John “Hot Rod” Williams and Larry Nance were the forwards, and Big Bad Brad Daugherty was the center.

I hate seeing the Gatorade commercials where they show Michael Jordan making that shot over Craig Ehlo. I’m getting mad even writing about it, so let’s move on. Behind Mark Price, I remember that my favorite player was Gerald Paddio. He was a third round draft pick out of UNLV and never really did much in the NBA. For some reason, I loved him.

In college basketball, nothing will ever beat Michigan State’s national championship in 2000 (I’m a fan of the Spartans, if you wondered). Seeing Mateen Cleaves limp out onto the court after spraining his ankle sent shivers down my spine. He never did much in the NBA, but I will always appreciate him for what he did for MSU basketball. He was everything a captain is supposed to be.

Even more recently, I still love remembering LeBron James dominating the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He scored 49 points and 29 of the Cavs’ last 30. Watching that game in the Read Hall lobby will forever be etched in my mind. At the start of the game, I was the only one watching. By the end, there was a crowd of at least 30 people in there with me.

Let’s Wrap It Up
I hope you enjoyed my profession of love for the game of basketball and my
little trip down memory lane. If you didn’t, I bet you didn’t read all the way
to this point. If you did, I thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree Ed. Nice trip down memory lane. MSZ