Monday night group chat with Juan and B Rich.
B Rich: “I’m going to Miami. 50% chance I fly tonight at 10pm. 50% chance I fly tomorrow at 6am. Juan are you available?”
DJ Cab is always available.
I happened to be in driving to Miami the next day, and after handling business, met up with B Rich at the famed Fountainblue Hotel on Miami Beach to talk hoops. Jason Williams was a third party to the conversation via text offering that Wesley Person was the best shooter he ever played with, and B Rich was “8”. The beauty in the statement was that he offered nothing on shooters two through seven, or any elaboration on B Rich ‘ s rating.
We were joined later by Cliff Smith and Mark Cruz, who were already three sheets to the wind. Twenty minutes after arriving Cliff was in the pool, fully clothed, playing catch with a random guy and three eight year olds. Cruz buried a relative in the morning, but seemed remarkably festive. The balance of the night was a clinic in team bonding and revelry with drinking, eating, tall tales and hypothetical beastiality.
Thursday, I was back in the 407 on the Community Sports Report 91.5 FM with Juan and Jay Rome Brown talking basketball. After the show, juan entrusted me with the Pedro’s Posse jerseys and a rough draft of the roster for our games on Saturday and Sunday. Before I reached the house, the roster had changed and continued to evolve and contort right through tip off on Saturday.
With the arrival of NBA and Euroleague veteran Nick Calathes a few minutes after tip off, we had a nine man unit of Calathes, Alex Castillo, Mike O’Donnell, Dee Proby, Luke Loucks, Joey Rodriguez, Deivedis Dulkys, Alex Blessig and scoreless Frank. We played very well winning by 25 against an over- matched foe. The guys were great about sharing minutes and Dulkys produced a pair of great dunks that made there way to the orlandoproam instagram account.
By nightfall there was growing concern over the big roster. It was tough to manage nine and we didn’t even have regulars Jason Williams, Rocky Trice or Andrew Bachanov. On Sunday, all three returned and I considered myself fortunate that Dee Proby and Mike O’Donnell sat out. I was left with ten guys including two NBA guys that generally get to play as much as they want. Thankfully, the guys embraced a Kentucky two platoon system. J Will put in a 2-2-1 press and we won by 32 with contributions up and down the roster.
The consensus was ten was too many though, and with the playoffs approaching some tough decisions on roster spots awaited Juan as he returned from Atlanta for Monday night’s game. Throughout the day as many as 13 possible players were discussed with Juan cautioning that it will work itself out. It did. We fielded a strong 9 man squad and played some delightful basketball, but so too did our opponents. For the first time in 8 games, we were in a tight game. For much of the third quarter we trailed by 5-7 points, but our second unit made a great run to get the lead at the end of three.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. In the closing seconds of the third, juan wanted to sub Courtney Lee in for Mike O’Donnell, but Courtney waved it off, and Mike hit a rainbow three from the deep corner at the buzzer to put us up 7. B Rich struggled for much of the game, but hit three big threes to maintain the lead before succumbing to a foot injury. Juan drew up a “play called Indians where everyone runs around in a circle”, and Rocky Trice blocked 4 shots in the second half and stole the ball at the buzzer to seal the 92-91 win.
At 12-0, we stand atop the league.
There is a haphazard way in which our roster comes together for each game, but our bond is deep forged in some instances from childhood friendships to a contemporaneous, but common vision of the game.