How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Volume V
Posted by SwampyMeadows, Features Contributor,
Saturday, August 19 2006
BEVERLY HILLS (MI) –- August means vacation-time to a lot of people and we Meadows folks are no different. Every year the 4 of us hit the highway in search of sun, sand, surf and (for me) early morning hoops in Stone Harbor, NJ. For those of you who need a refresher course, here’s a link to last year’s FTS “HISMSV” column, which also contains links to the previous three missives on the same subject:
This year was different than any other year in the 20+ years that I have been going to the Joisey Shore. Yeah, it’s always great to spend time with the girls; the hoops were tremendous as usual and the beach, weather and restaurants all superb, as well. However, this year was about people, 4 of them in particular: Charlie (whom I have written about before); Elena; Frank (ditto) and Ross.
Charlie is Charlie Naddaff. He played collegiately at Lafayette in nearby Philly and was drafted by the Pacers in 1980. Someone asked him during the course of the week how big he was and his answer was “6’10” and 420 pounds” which confirmed my suspicions that he is far and away the largest dude I have ever hooped with. Charlie not only brought his 6’6” HS rising-senior son Chip along with him, but his 6’ HS daughter Kathleen, as well. They usually played together and did well, as most pick-up teams in Stone Harbor don’t go 6’10”, 6’6” and 6’0” across the front line.
Between games one day, Charlie told us about the time he faced Ralph Sampson in college. For you youngsters, Sampson was a 7’4” freak athlete who attended the University of Virginia. He was probably the most-recruited HS athlete since Lew Alcindor, AKA Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Charlie’s Lafayette squad faced Sampson and the Cavs in the NIT when Charlie was a senior and Ralph just a frosh in 1980. Charlie said that RS scored 19 against him, but that he held his own hitting 14 points. The secret, Charlie said, was to shoot with lots of arc. It took Charlie about 2 minutes to figure out that Ralph loved to swat opposing shots into the 12th row, so whenever he put up an attempt, he made sure it had plenty of altitude and, sure enuf, old Ralph would sky up there and goal tend. Charlie said he scored 4 or 5 hoops that way, but the Leopards dropped a 67-56 opening round tilt to UVa.
Elena is Elena DellDonne a 6’5” rising junior PG from Delaware who will be able to attend any college she chooses on a basketball scholarship. Here is what the headline on Rivals.com has to say about her:
“Elena DellDonne is a Consensus All-American.”
95% from the FT line? Larry Bird never did that! 80 FT in a row? I don’t care who you are, if you make 80 in a row, you are a player and Elena certainly is. What impressed me the most about her game is that she is so fundamentally sound. She doesn’t force things, but rather lets the game come to her. The hoops in Stone Harbor are brutal double rims with stiff backboards and yet she swished 3 pointers with regularity. She can take it to the rim and can shoot with either hand. Elena is the total basketball package and she is also a knockout, if a 56 year old father of 2 daughters who are both older than her is allowed to say that.
The best team that I played on all week featured Charlie, Elena, Dan (a perpetual motion machine I’ve played with a lot over the years), Gary (another all-day runner) and me. We won 4 in a row until Charlie ran out of steam in the fifth game and couldn’t get back on defense. I actually made the game-winners in the first two tilts. In the third run we were down a point, 8-7, with the game only going up to 9. We worked the ball inside to Charlie on 2 consecutive possessions to eke out the V, much to our opponents chagrin.
Frank is Frank…I still don’t know his last name. He’s 72 years old now and was featured in the 2004 edition of FTS “HISMSV”:
I got to the court on 96th Street at 7:00am on Sunday and was the first one there. I was soon joined by a bunch of other hoopsters of a “certain age” many of whom I had played with before. My squad won our first game and lost the second. As I went to sit down, I walked over to say hello to Frank who had just arrived and he greeted me warmly. Understand: Frank is the ‘Commissioner’ of Stone Harbor hoops. Even tho he had just gotten there, Frank managed to arrange a fivesome to his liking (including himself, obviously) who had “next” game. This didn’t sit well with Robert, a bespeckled intellectual type, who writes for the New York Times. After Frank’s team won, Robert voiced his displeasure. How come Frank got to pick and choose his team and Robert was going to get stuck playing with the dregs left on the sideline? It was obvious to me that Robert was mainly concerned about getting stuck with the goofy, curly haired guy that no one had ever seen before.
That goofy, curly haired guy would be Ross. Ross had been coming to Stone Harbor for 2 years and had never played hoops at the shore until that very morning. His presence caused a lengthy discussion between Robert and the rest of us waiting to play. Yeah, Robert wanted to play, but it was clear that he didn’t want to get stuck with Ross. It was like he was asking “why are you here, dude? Why don’t you just go away?”
The reason that Ross was there became abundantly clear a few seconds later. Frank had come off the court, sat down on the stands and then passed out on the sideline and started convulsing uncontrollably. I was standing right next to Frank and Ross was on the other side. Everybody came over to see what was wrong and Ross said “stand back—I’m a Cardiologist.” Ross immediately started performing CPR, pushing as hard as he could on Frank’s chest. He asked another guy to take over, telling him to push as hard as he could because he wasn’t going to hurt Frank. Someone asked Ross shouldn’t they perform mouth-to-mouth? Ross calmly explained that the latest thinking is that breathing isn’t nearly as important as restoring a heartbeat, so you should concentrate on the heart. Someone called 911—the fire station is literally down the street. A guy came in off of the street and said “stand back—I’m a Cardiologist.” Ross and he teamed up and kept pushing, but Frank wasn’t responding—no pulse, no breathing, nada. I’ve known Frank for over 15 years and have always admired his physical conditioning considering his advanced age. The Emergency guys came and Ross quickly decided that Frank needed to be shocked. The ETs hooked up the paddles and yelled “clear” and shocked Frank’s heart back to life and he slowly started breathing. A guy from the tennis courts came over and said “I’m an Anesthesiologist.” Frank was hooked up to an AED which instructs the technicians on what to do. It became clear that they were losing Frank once more and so Ross started pumping on his chest again. I may not have gone to church that Sunday morning, but believe me, there was enuf praying going on right about then to fill any place of worship. Frank came back a second time and they were able to load him onto an ambulance and whisk him to the hospital.
After he was gone, there were high fives all around for Ross. Robert had wisely left the scene and didn’t show his face again for the rest of the week. Someone said “I know if Frank were here, he’d want us to keep playing.” So that’s exactly what we did. It turned out that I was covering Ross in that game and I never laid a finger on him. Want a layup, Doc? Be my guest! Feelin’ a 3 pointer? Go ahead, I won’t block it! We lost in spite of the fact that I was playing on the same team as Charlie, but no one seemed to care.
One of the guys said that “if Frank could choose a place to die, playing basketball in Stone Harbor would be it.” Fortunately for him, it didn’t come to that. Frank was awake and bothering the nurses later that day and attempting to talk his doctor into allowing Frank to drive himself back to Baltimore because he had simply “passed out playing basketball.” Charlie said he was standing outside Frank’s room and overheard the conversation. When the medic left, Charlie went in and told Frank the truth: “You were gone, Frank –- twice!” Ross arranged for Frank to have triple bypass surgery that Friday in Philly. It turns out that Frank had been experiencing chest pains for a year or two, but never told his wife, because she would make him stop playing hoops. I've got a news flash for you, Frank: dead men don’t play basketball!
Frank went down and within minutes there were two Cardiologists and a gas passer attending to him. Only in Stone Harbor. One of the guys joked that if this had happened in Wildwood, Frank would have been SOL.
And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.
That’s it “From the Swamp.”