Been holding off on writing about basketball with the hopes that my last line would be: “And the Bulls beat the Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in five games!” Didn’t happen. “In Six Games!” So close… Bulls lost by three. Saturday is Game Seven. Hoping the exhausted Bulls can fuel up and get back in the game and close up this extremely well-played series!
Thought hard about why I wanted to wait for a win before I wrote it down. I guess as much as I plug the journey, the climb, the processes in life, I can’t help, like many of us, to notice the score. At the end of a game.
The Glen Cove Hospital puts together an employee team for an annual basketball game against the Grenville Baker Boys and Girls’ Club Staff. I don’t technically work for the hospital, but I get to jump in for a few minutes here and there as the “girl” on the team. This marks the tenth year, I believe, we’ve played each other and right now, the Hospital team has only won twice. One year, the Hospital beat the club with a buzzer beater shot from the half, pushing us just one point ahead.
The following year, after three over times, the Club came back to settle the score and beat the Docs and company. Two years ago, we (the medical peeps) got an on-court whoopin’! We came to play, but the Club showed up. And showed us they weren’t afraid to rock it out to keep their title.
And last year, it got brutal, but the Club took the win. In the final quarter, a scuffle for the ball under the basket lead to an elbow to the face of Marc Bilbry, the Associate Director of the club. There was blood. On the court. And Marc headed to the hospital for stitches. Of course the joke in the stands was, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Well, sure, but no one carries a doctor kit around anymore. I think.
Anyway, this year, the buzz starts early, and the stands are more full than ever. Several attendees have to stand and the screams from the audience are louder than I ever remember. We’re ready, with a fresh dose of enthusiasm, new players (including some very tall residents and talented medical students,) and a coach, Dr. David Battinelli, Chief Medical Officer of North Shore LIJ—a guy who plays, loves and knows the game. Dr. William Bennett, Family Medicine Program Director, served enthusiastically as Assistant Coach.
And Bill Bowles, M.D., Director of Medical Staff at Glen Cove Hospital, has been setting aside his stethoscope for a whistle to ref the game since the beginning. We appreciate his knowledge of the game, and it’s always fun to see the staff on the court and in the stands. Delighted that one of Glen Cove’s newest, Barbara Barnett, M.D., came out to cheer on the Hospital team! Rumor has it she’s joining me on the floor next year as a power forward!
Our contenders are lead by Marc Bilbry, and his staff at the club are beyond stellar. The nicest group of men and women I know, who really love the kids, and give day in and day out to encourage, teach, and shape them through their growing up years.
But the club staff as a balling team are hurting a bit tonight. Two of their power forwards are out—one with a knee problem and the other is off in the city shooting scenes for the new Spiderman Movie. Hello? Priorities. Their center, who is known for steals and dunks (no joke!) is injured too. And the woman who I’m used to being schooled by, because she played college ball, I think she’s working elsewhere now.
“You guys sound like the Bulls!” I tell Daren, Director of Sports and Fitness and dunking center. “Which is good. For us. But…”
If they think they’re Chicago, they might still beat us. Because I don’t care if you’re a Knicks or a Nets fan, or you could care less about the NBA, if you watch even a few minutes of this Windy City Basketball team play, they have heart! And resilience. And a fan-backed, bench-roaring, team-infused gusto that brings chills to even the Heat! On occasion! And that’s in the midst of multiple injuries, illnesses, and Rose’s return that didn’t happen.
On a side note, I welcome questions about Derrick Rose. But I’m not going to judge him. Of course I want him back just as badly as the Bulls’ fan next door, but I’m not a doctor, and even if I was, I’m not him. A lot of people want to ridicule him for not stepping back on the court, or label him for not helping his team, or tease him about his “head” issues. I say, leave the guy alone. He is one part of what makes the Bulls who they are. A huge Part! But if you’re a real fan of the game, or any team sport really, you know that the players are only as good as the team working together. As a team.
So… back to the local game in Locust Valley. We huddle to talk strategy with the coach, and I’m trying really hard to concentrate. Coach Battinelli rounds us in, and with an intense game voice, (or maybe he’s always this confident) instructs us with: “We’re gonna go with three-two zone and trap on the first pass. Every time. Go hard. Drive to the paint. Let’s make it happen.”
“Three two what?” Verify with a teammate to make sure I get it before Chris Cherian, one of our point guards, gives us a two second “Play hard. Run hard. Let’s do this!” hand-layered cheer which pumps us up from the start. I’ll speak for myself. I was pumped!
The buzzer sounds the tip-off and yours truly is on the starting line up. The girl! And the game moves fast. And before you know it, we’re up by quite a few points. These guys that hubby asked to play this year are A to the Mazing! But what I love is their unselfishness. Great ball movement. Rebounding. And defensively, we are not making it easy for the Club staff.
At the end of the first quarter, with eight seconds on the clock, I ran down the court and Ben Fernandes sends me a football pass from way back, and I catch it! Dribble, step, up for a center lay-up. And it sinks! On the buzzer. And the crowd goes wild. You’d think we won the game! That was my moment of glory. And after that I sat. Winded. Happy to turn in my jersey.
And three quarters later, we pulled off an incredible win, beating the staff with over twenty points. And each person on our team scored! We had docs who’ve been playing ball for years, like Dr. Michael “Micky” Grieco and Dr. Rick Zenn, handle the ball with such skill, hitting their shots, and not giving up on plays. And forwards who hit threes, and guards who drove through a line of defenders for some beautiful little deliveries to the basket. In my excitement, I nearly lost my voice screaming. And I was so caught up in the game, I forgot to pull out my iPhone to take clips of live game footage. Would have loved to put together a highlights’ reel. There were so many!
But I did put my “reporter” hat back on when the game finished, and we gave each other hugs and high fives, and thanked our contenders, the Boys and Girls’ Club Staff. Took a few videos of the coaches and players and put together a little VLOG so you can get a taste of the energy that we felt that night!
WATCH VIDEO OF AFTER GAME INTERVIEWS! on YouTube
Three teams. The Bulls. Glen Cove Hospital. The B&G Club. Wins and losses. But the key word is Team. When you come together to work for a common goal, what makes it happen is not the one guy who has the best skills, although skills are awesome and necessary. And it’s not the score on the big black board the punctuates the season, even though we all love to win. It’s the play-by-play moments. The missed shots followed by a high-five, you’ll hit it next time. The pass from next door when the other guy could have taken the shot and all the glory. The time a guy gave you hand to pick you up off the floor, and he played for the other team.
Chris Cherian, the night’s undeclared MVP [no one voted, but I’m sure he’d have won the title unanimously,] summed it up perfectly when we toasted the night at the Brass Rail afterward:
“Yeah.” The table chimed in with clinking glasses.
And you? Ever played a team sport? Want to give a shout out to a Coach or Teammate from yesteryear!?! Are you rooting for the Bulls Saturday Night! Cuz then you can come over and watch the game with us!