You Can Take the Boy Out of Kansas (but He'll Come Back to Haunt You)
Today's episode starts at the mansion just any mansion the playboy mansion. What do you say? We just leave it at that. I'm Paul Shirley, and these are the stories I toll on dates. Los Angeles, a Saturday night. So the referee bounces me the ball, like referees, always. Do I take a deep breath like I always do. Of course, this is a pretty terrible coping mechanism for the chills that are running up and down my back and have left me weaken the knees, but not like s WB biscuits grant out of her which is a little surprising. I wasn't sure she was old enough to know s. w and she says swirling the purple wine in her glass and desperate for something familiar. I pick out one the hooks that holds the net to the rim because those are the same in every Jim clever. She says, she's getting it. I thought she might. She seems smarter than most of the people I might have met on a night like this and she's from zuri. She was in an issue called girls of the SEC. So she might understand the significance of mid western basketball rivalries. I tell myself I have is only for this spot because I'm trying to push from my mind one in. Important fact, if I make this free throw, I will clinch a win inside Allen Fieldhouse home to the Kansas jayhawks which almost no one does as I know all too. Well, having grown up a massive fan of those Kansas jayhawks. Stupid, Kansas fans, Missouri people in Kansas people have a good natured rivalry that wasn't always so good natured, John Brown and Quantrill raiders and all that exactly. I say I dribble twice like I've done since middle school basketball camp when they told us to shoot our free throws the same way each time. The crowd behind Maclear backboard weights ready to sway from right to left just as I used to see it do on my parents. TV the crowd does its part dick talking across. I let go of the ball while hits the front of the rim. The ball hits the back of the ramp. I look at her wanting to ask what happens next because now that I've started kind of want to tell her this story. The surprises me because for a while, this didn't seem possible, but maybe it's been long enough since I quit playing that I'm ready to tell basketball stories again or maybe it's because she caught me unawares. I didn't think I'd meet anyone. I'd want to tell any stories when I arrived at the gates to the playboy mansion brought there by famous basketball player. Scott knows because of course, Scott knows him. And of course I'm roaming Los Angeles with Scott again. Now that I've moved back here to get my writing career off the tarmac. But then she and a friend walked up and started talking to me at one thirty in the morning. They were both playmates are playmates. I should say they corrected me immediately once a playmate. Always a playmate like a president, the one from zuri, the one I'm hoping we'll ask me what happens. Next gave me a tour of the mansion grounds, then she said, we should go back to her place for a glass of wine, and that was not an invitation. A single person like me was going to turn down. The girl from the band and me, we made it all of a month in Los Angeles. The band did not survive the move, either. Okay. So did your free throw go in or not? Well, that I can't tell you yet because this isn't just a basketball story, which means we need to go back aways. So you know why she wiggles her wine glass. Need more. I nod and away we go. Okay. Let's take a quick break from the story for another story. A story about my stitch fix box, arriving Huzzah. The box was cute and easy to deal with and made me want to open it inside. We're five items of clothing too long sleeve shirts, one short sleeve shirt some socks and some shorts I was nervous because as we've discussed, I am very tall and I was right to be nervous only the shorts and the socks fit, but here's why I'm not worried, stitch fix is accounted for this. In fact, they say pretty clearly that it might take a few operations. I went online and told them what didn't work and why it was very easy. I'll drop off the return bag. They provided. I don't need to fold up the items, but I will because I'm from Kansas, and then we'll do it again. Stitch fix. Sounds like something you'd like to try to stitch fix dot com slash dates, and you'll get an extra twenty five percent off. If you keep your whole box that stitch fix dot com slash dates, maybe it's for you maybe for your next date. Maybe it's for the person you're going on the date with whatever the case is easy to sign up and there's no real risk because you only spend money if you love what you get. Okay. Let's get back to the story. Twelve. I was state versus Kansas, nine pm eastern eight PM central. I joined my first basketball team in sixth grade after twenty seconds on the court. My coach walked onto the court to call an exasperated timeout before striding to the spot on the floor where I was few to trying to figure out how to guard my opponent. He moved me bodily to the other side of the boy. No, Paul between him in the basket. After that, I pick things up pretty quickly and it wasn't long before I was in love in eighth grade. My gym teacher who would one day preside over the end of my baseball career. When I stopped a curve ball with my face asked me each day how much I'd practice the night before an hour. I'd say with pride, sometimes an hour and a half, sometimes two hours. It didn't matter to me. There was nothing I liked more than being on the gravel driveway and back with my parents house, just the ball, the basket and me. I felt like a weirdo everywhere else, but there in the driveway with my only judge the swish of the net I was free. By high school. I was harboring dreams of playing basketball in college, but not just at any college. I wanted to play at the university of Kansas once home to Wilt Chamberlain two Dean Smith and to James Naismith the inventor of basketball. It didn't hurt that. Both my parents had graduated from there for that. We lived thirty minutes from campus. Then there was that memory of that night in nineteen Eighty-eight. When Kansas won the national championship on the backs of several college kids. These names all remember forever. It was the second best night of my life right after the night in one thousand nine hundred five when Darryl motley caught the final out in right field and the Kansas City Royals won the World Series as a child. My happiness was very much tied to the performances of my favorite sports teams. My aspirations of one day playing for k. you hardly made me unique. Everyone in northeast Kansas who'd ever put his hands on a basketball had some species claim to why he would someday be a. j. Hawke. There was one difference as a junior in high school. I'd grown to six foot seven could handle myself around the basket and could make a three point shot. So my dream seemed at least reasonable for me playing at k. you wouldn't be winning a multimillion dollar Powerball jackpot. It'd be more like hitting the ten thousand dollar grand prize on one of those scratch off tickets, steal money from poor people. I spent the summer after that junior year playing more basketball than any human wasn't in the NBA tournaments on weekends, summer league games on weeknights exposure camps. During the week, I'd found an AA you basketball team, the, oh, SoHo, clean aimed Kansas pride. That was happy to have me join a front line of similar sized white guys from other small towns in the area. We were good, but not quite as good as Kansas City's AAU juggernaut the children's mercy hospital seventy Sixers home to future NBA washout Corleones young Giran, rush and future Duke star, Corey McGinty who eventually played fourteen seasons in the NBA in our defense, we weren't getting paid to play Siham. H coach, Myron, piggy would later be convicted on conspiracy charges for paying thirty five thousand dollars to high school players on the roster which helped explain why the players always had matching shoes and such good players. I hadn't been named to any of the fancy top one hundred recruiting lists populated by young, rush and McGinty. I wasn't as speedy as I would get when my body's hormonal dosage kicked up from the trickle. It was set on in my jerseys. Still hung off me like I was a scarecrow, but that summer I blossomed into something more than the dominance. Small town player. I was assumed to be in on July first recruiting call started the only problem. The voices on the other end weren't the ones I wanted to hear. My most ardent suitors were employed by the likes of North Dakota state the university of Missouri at Rawla, Colorado school of mines and northern state university, which confusingly is in South Dakota. Not a peep from Kansas hell. I didn't even hear from Kansas state and Kansas state was terrible. This was not how this was supposed to go. One of the disembodied voices coming out of the top end of the cordless phone that hung in my parents kitchen belong to Steve craftsperson, an assistant coach at the university of North Dakota. He played at North Carolina and Isla and was as he told me the only player to score and NCWA final fours with two different teams. Most of the coaches who talked to me did so as if they were reading off cue cards, like the ones I'd prepared for my first date with Kelly Stefka, but not coach k.'s. He asked predictably to be called. We had real conversations about real topics. Sports weather, girls, his wife, how he'd ended up in North Dakota and in another departure from the norm. He had a sense of humor. He sent me recruiting letters featuring cut out pictures of supermodels with dialogue bubbles that read, I hope Paul comes to North Dakota. This was more like what I thought recruitment would be like, all I needed now was for Steve craft seasons voice to be replaced by that of Matt Doherty. The. The head assistant at Kansas by the fall. The caliber of my suitors had increased slightly probably because of the natural reordering process that occurs in college basketball recruitment as it became clear that the guy above me was going to go to somewhere above them. The better schools ratcheted down their expectations. I was hearing from smaller division one schools, most of them on the east coast, and most of them have that breed of college known to be associated with smart white kids like me, the Ivy leagues the year before a done well enough on the PSAT that I'd been named a national merit finalist thusly in the eyes of Ivy league basketball coaches. I was as attractive as a cinnabon stand on cheat day. On the basketball recruitment calendar, September is home visit month. I granted as many coaches as I could the opportunity to navigate Jefferson county's gravel roads on route to the Shirley acreage of two acres. The coaches were mostly the same. The fitting coaches who were all in the places they were for about the same reason. They were honest and decent men. Both of which are characteristics generally detrimental to big time college coaching success, Dartmouth Holy Cross air force, Harvard, Missouri Rolla Washburn in the university of North Dakota. Of course, coach k. was just as great in person as he was on the phone, laughing about how his knees almost touched his chin. When he sat down in our old rocking chair, those coaches didn't tell me I'd someday play in the NBA. They didn't even say I'd play if I came to their schools. You'll have the same chances everyone they said, which was about all I could ask for. It's just I wanted to ask for it somewhere else. One day that winter while most of the coaches who were recruiting mate were focusing their attention on the teams. They already had my father said he had an idea at first, I protested. It just wasn't what people did dad, but after twenty four hours of teenage stubbornness, I came around the alternative was a home at someplace like the university of Missouri Rawla where because it was an engineering school, the male to female ratio was twelve to one. But don't worry that team's assistant coach at said, the players get all the girls I wrote down every place. I could conceivably imagine playing, maybe not Duke Kentucky or North Carolina, but north western western Kentucky and North Carolina, Charlotte, and on and on. And on. When I was done, I had a list of sixty schools using a directory dug up at the Topeka library. I found out the names of the head coach at every one of them and then I fired up. We're perfect on the Hewlett Packard that resided in my parents bedroom and turned out my letters in which I explained who I was and what I believed that inspired or the fact that I played basketball for high school in the town of seven hundred people. I was good enough to play at their respective schools. Most of the coaches didn't respond, but a few of them did at Oklahoma Kelvin Sampson wrote that he appreciated the initiative I'd taken but that he didn't have any scholarships left. Northwestern said they were full to and from. Iowa stayed in a leaning scrawl head coach, Tim Floyd said he too was sorry. But then he couldn't come up with scholarship for me. Well, Tim Floyd was writing to me. I was tearing up high school basketball courts all over northeast Kansas, fueled in no small part by all those rejections. Sometimes during my senior year, I'd only score twenty, but a lot of the time I scored thirty an accomplishment made all the more difficult. Thanks to the zones, the double teams and boxes, and ones that were engineered by opposing small town coaches by season's end average twenty five points and twelve rebounds shooting a nearly unbelievable seventy percent from field while also blocking four shots every game leading the state in both categories and we were winning. We had a coach who encouraged us to raise up and down the court. A point guard jed Traxler who transferred to our school before junior year who could throw me in alley youth and a three point shooter to take the pressure off the inside together. We took our tiny high school to the state tournament for the first time in school history. Surely. Someone would notice all of that. I thought. And so they did the university of Missouri, Kansas City you KC was interested. So was Wichita state and Drake university into Moines better, but still not the place I wanted? Sure. I'd written those letters to schools all over the country, but I hadn't given up hope on Kansas by March. Most of the high school seniors who are going to play college basketball, the following autumn had already signed their letters of intent or about to like a sophomore girl who's three months pregnant. I need to make a decision. So after we lost by seven, in the first round of the state tournament, I visited Dartmouth Harvard, the university of Vermont and the university of North Dakota at Dartmouth. I saw my first real party and I thought maybe Hanover was the right place for me, but then I came home and we figured out that my parents would have to pay fifteen thousand dollars a year for me to go to keggers with rich white people. Harvard was expensive to, of course, but it was Harvard or so said our families resident, Harvard grad, my uncle, Tom in Vermont, the coach told me he thought I could be a Rhodes scholar and at North Dakota, true to form coast k. made the competition. Look clownish, Lee, incompetent. My hotel room was filled with green and white balloons when I got to the gym on the scoreboard above a message. Read welcome Paul to the home of your future dunks. Here I was wanted. Here I would succeed here. I would probably become the team star, but at a division two school. After the visit, I told coach k. how much I appreciate it. Everything he'd done in that I'd miss him in the models. But the thing was one way or another. I was going to play division one basketball. He was disappointed. He told me, but he wasn't surprised. I might even be able to help. He said. Before taking a job at the university of North Dakota coach k. had been in assistant at Iowa State. When I told him to buzz off, he called Iowa State head coach, Tim Floyd, and told him about this kid, and no one knew about, but he thought was good enough to play in the big twelve, the sports conference that had just been formed by all the former members of the big eight and a half. The members of the southwestern conference Floyd had just given away his last scholarship. He had an idea though one of his former assistants was at southern Mississippi. Why didn't he put us in touch the next day I took a call in the high school library. It was the head coach, southern miss offering a scholarship. This was a little more like it a few days later I heard from the head coach at Davidson college in North Carolina. He was willing to fly to Kansas to watch me work out soon. After his visit, I went to Charlotte to walk the campus at Davidson, the smallest division one school in the United States, and the only one that's still did all of its students. Laundry. Then when I got back from North Carolina, two pieces of news, we're waiting after a little research. My mother had learned that it I was state status as a national merit finalist was worth a full academic scholarship. She'd gotten back in touch with the basketball office and Tim Floyd had started paying attention again if I wanted. I could come to Ames on that academic scholarship and play for the team. Technically, I would be a walk on a non athletic scholarship player, but Floyd promise not to tell anyone, but I was state would have to wait because the other piece of news was that Matt Doherty had called ROY Williams wanted me to come to Lawrence to talk. The night before the big day, I conjured various dream scenarios all of which involved roaring Allen Fieldhouse crowds Raef lafrentz than the jayhawks starting power forward high fiving the after Lael. Paul Pierce whose I practiced. I'd watched as a high school junior picking me up off the floor after I'd take an charge shock. Wban smiling at me as we both ran back on defense after I'd made a short jumper. In the morning, I put on my best Saint John's bay long-sleeve cursed the pair of Whitehead's that had made an inconvenient appearance overnight and got into the grand Voyager with my parents for the drive to Lawrence. After we found the basketball offices and after we waited the requisite fifteen minutes, we were ushered into ROY Williams plush office. His desk was a monstrosity, something out of the mediocre John Grisham novels. I was reading at the time, been the man himself appeared his voice all Honey and clover. Just like in the press conferences, I'd watched. He offered us the chairs across from his desk, my eyes wandered to the pictures of him coaching, various national teams, his arms around Jim behind Dean Smith gene Katie in then we sat. In that same accent, ROY Williams crushed my boyhood dreams. He hadn't called because he wanted me to come to Kansas. He'd called because he wanted me to go to Davidson as it turned out that random call from Davidson hadn't been all that random someone at Kansas. It called Davidson's coach about me, but that wasn't the worst of it. While I weighed what I was being told, Williams dropped the death blow. Telling me that I needed to face up to the fact that I wasn't good enough to play in the big twelve stunned I asked about Iowa State, Kansas is new, big, twelve, rival bay seem pretty interested. I said both Williams and Dougherty scoffed. You don't want to go to Iowa State, just go to Davidson. It'd be a great place for you. Were they trying to do a favor for an old friend? Were they trying to keep me out of the big twelve in case I blossomed and came back to haunt them? Or were they just trying to get me out of their office so they could get back to smoking cigars drinking port or playing cards or whatever it is that people do in a room with carpet. That's an engine a half tall. I never knew exactly. I did know that they were right about one thing. Davidson would have been a great place for me. My visit had happened on a spring weekend, so gorgeous that I almost signed up on the spot. Plus the coach at Davidson was a pulse. Shirley fan and Davidson wasn't so division. One also ran the team would eventually be known for producing NBA super duper star Steph, curry. After I staggered out of ROY Williams, his office and after my mother vowed that she'd never, again cheer for Kansas. And after I said no to Wichita state and Drake and m KC whose head coach had come to my high school with a letter of intent that he wanted me to sign on the spot. My options were set Davidson. Araya was state. Davidson seemed like the safe option. Even though it was farther away I'd be welcomed their hailed, maybe not as the future, conquering hero, but at least with open arms, Iowa State was a risk. Sure. Tim Floyd had said, no one would ever know. I was technically a walk on, but could I trust him would I really have a chance to play one late spring evening with my brothers, treating me like the rubber tires in a bumper car track. I sat down at the kitchen table and made a call him of pros and cons. Iowa State was closer Davidson was friendlier. Iowa State had an engineering program. Davidson was a better school. I'd spoken to Tim Floyd. Once I talked to the Davidson coach nearly every day, my list organized, reasonable and fittingly obsessive compulsive solved. Nothing. What did help make up my mind was the searing pain of unequivocal rejection until ROY Williams told me from behind his massive desks that I wasn't good enough to play in the big twelve. The rejections had been passive and unreturned letter a phone call that never happened. My desire for retribution had been similarly, ephemeral. I wanted to prove these people wrong, but my anger didn't have a focal point. Now, though I had something to hold onto. After I called Davidson, the coach wrote me a four page letter in which he told me how much he'd enjoyed getting to know me. It made me wonder about my decision to go to Iowa State as did the first day of pickup basketball in Ames the following autumn when future NBA first round draft, pick Kelvin. Cato spun out through down a vicious, slam dunk on top of my head as did the first weekend of official practice when we had a pair of grueling three hour sessions on Saturday and another pair on Sunday as did the first late of games during which I was mired at the end of the veg- as did laundry day. And every time I was out of clean socks. Every so often though little tendrils of life shot up practices when I'd outsmart keta with timely pump fake in early game at the university of Iowa before which coach Floyd took me aside to tell me I was going to play a lot and into which I was inserted because one of my senior teammates was ineligible. I scored a quick eight points more important though, was the feeling I got on the court. I wasn't good enough yet, but the path was getting clearer. ROY Williams was going to be wrong about meat. We made it all the way to the NCWA tournaments Sweet Sixteen my freshman year finishing with the twenty two and nine record. Thanks to five. Beloved seniors. Five beloved seniors are fans would miss the following season. My sophomore year when are twelve and eighteen record helped Dr Tim Floyd in the arms of the Chicago Bulls. This was a problem. Coach Floyd hadn't been all blessings and butter cups, but I could tell he liked me that he had plans for me one day during Christmas break. My sophomore year. He asked me to come with him to Moines after practice. He had to speak at a fundraiser. He said, when we got there, he told me I was going on stage. Are like seven hundred people out there. I said, you'll be fine. He said with the same Bri grin charmed. Most everyone he came in contact with and I was. It was a man who had confidence in me who'd said far nicer things to me than my own father. And now he was leaving in the heart of my college career, and there was no way of knowing who the athletic director would pick to replace him. But I reckon there wasn't much I could do about any of that. So that summer I went back to my parents house with myriad athletic cliches on the brain. I was a not going to let anything stop me be ready to take on the world. See going to lift harder, run faster, and work longer than anyone else. I was ridiculous. It was like I was writing slogans for those no fear shirts at once favored. But I was also serious. I knew I was close to realizing the dreams. I'd carry it around since my summer at Skinner's nursery, and I was going to do everything I could to make my dreams come true. During the day I trained at my old high school lifting weights in the fetid dungeon where at once watched their Dinsmore fracture vertebrae doing clean and jerk that night. I drove to Kansas City for summer league games in a brick of Jim near the CEO, which is a street where people are sometimes shot by the middle of the summer. The cliches were lining up. I was getting bigger, stronger better. I noticed that I was far less afraid of my opponents. Now I was starting to figure out how my body worked and my teammates on that summer league team. We're taking note often throwing the ball and telling me to go to work and take it to him. It is difficult to be at a Milan creative when you are out of Renner, then came, the news, Iowa State had hired a man named Larry you. She who'd most recently been the head coach at Utah state. My initial research turned up some data. Most of you Stacy's players at Utah state only stayed for a year or maybe two. Which did nothing to counter. What I was hearing about is too radical attitude toward coaching. Then the rumors got less room ary at the same time that I was thinking about my third year of college, my brother Dan was thinking about his first. He was headed off to play basketball at a college in Kansas called Pittsburg state, and as luck would have it. One of his new teammates had just transferred in from Utah state. I call Dan's new teammate to ask what you stay. She was like toward the end of what had already been in alarming conversation. He said, look, you seem like a decent enough guy. I'm going to tell you a no uncertain terms. You do not want to play for that man shaken. I called the man himself. When I did his wife answered. I said, your name is Stacey. You Stacey. Great start. Paul. When my new coast got on the phone, I asked him my questions. Did he know about me? It coach Floyd said anything was the starting job. I'd earned still mine. All I wanted was a little reassurance for him to tell me to calm down that he'd love the way I'd played in some game or another, but reassurance was not forthcoming. You'll have the same chances. Everyone else he said was no longer what I wanted to hear. From the outside the participants in college, basketball and football seem to have hit the jackpot, the colors, the pageantry, the fans, these things make college sports. Look like a wonderland. I had once thought this to if someone had told me in high school that I would someday get to play major college basketball, I would've asked what deal I'd have to make what the devil. However, when you're inside the machine, it's a different story. You're tired, you're overworked grown. Men are screaming at you and you realize how much money is being made in how little of it you're seeing. Sure the fans like you, but their patients is short. There were players before you. There will be players after you. Oh, and you are twenty years old with no one to guide you are to advocate on your behalf. What if I went back to Iowa State and Larry used as she didn't like how I played, what if he was already trying to find my replacement? What if he was already holding a grudge? Because I'd noticed his. Wife's rhyming name. With the wise and the what if roiling in my brain an idea popped up an imperfect solution to an imperfect problem. I called my high school coach, and I told him to get in touch with Kansas. ROY Williams would surely be excited about having me come play for him now that I'd prove my worth as a big, twelve basketball player. My coach told me he'd see what he could find out. And I went back to training and playing those games near the CEO in Kansas City getting ready for a season who's location, I didn't yet know, but whatever that was big and strong in twenty and invincible. Near the end of one of our games. I went up for a rebound it was a lot like any other rebound except that when I came down, I slipped on the Jim sweaty floor. I lost my balance and smashed my right elbow, opening it all the way to a ligament, which shone bright white, and it's little tissue taco. And that was alarming. I thought my dad agreed and we went for stitches at the hospital into PICO where my mother had once worked. The doctor on call. So I should probably have some antibiotics too. I was on a low level course for the acne that was still plaguing me in college. I asked if that was sufficient. Sure. He said three days later, my arm had swollen and was oddly hot. So I went to the offices of our favorite orthopedist where a doctor pronounced swelling was a result only of the trauma of the injury. He put me in a half caste and sent me home that night. I was sitting in our ancient rocking chair idly watching television. I'm mother came over to check on me feel okay. She asked, I shrugged and she put her hand on my forehead. I had a fever of one hundred and three. We rushed to the emergency room at the same hospital where a new doctor re-cut. The wound song stupa Fant, which is a common French phrase. I just made up to me and they couldn't use any light. Oh Cain to numb the side as it would contaminate the sample, they needed to send to the lab. By the time I was done hyperventilating from the combination of the fever and the pain that results when someone cuts into your naked flesh with the scalpel we had the verdict, a fair number of staphylococcus bacteria had invaded the Bursa in my elbow. I had what is commonly known as a staff infection. I was not. In fact, invincible. Doctors get panicky about bacterial infections. A fact with which I would become well acquainted once my brother, Dan grew up in became an infectious disease. Doctor, nurses also get pretty panicky about them effect with which I would become well acquainted right. Then my mother was never routinely sympathetic toward her sons when they were sick. This is because before her stand with the county health department, she'd worked as a nurse. I at the Veterans Administration hospital near where I was born and then at the regular hospital where I was now about to be admitted and put on IV antibiotics. Oh, you've got a cold, at least you don't have leukemia. Oh, there's a splinter in your hand. At least you have a hand. Nursing has a way of putting things in perspective. However, there's one benefit to having a nurse for a mother when something serious comes up, like a staff infection raging inside the elbow of her eldest son. She goes into action. She was on the doctor's like a drill sergeant. But not in the way that most mortals might have been, which would be to wonder why someone had accepted that. Whatever antibiotics I was on were sufficient port to ask why no one had caught the staff infection earlier that day. She was only interested in solving the problem in front of her getting me upstairs and making sure I didn't lose an arm. Meanwhile, I wasn't doing much thinking at all extreme fevers. Having that affect on people. I was mostly worried about when I would be able to close my eyes because the fever and all the pain killers they pumped into me after the scalpel work. These things had me sleepy. So it was with only partial interest in the situation that I watched. My parents closed the door to my hospital room telling me they'd be back in the morning. It is usually lazy and possibly disingenuous to skip to the next part of a story by saying. And the next thing I knew, however, in this case, it was the truth that the next thing I knew my parents were walking through the door and then they weren't walking or one of them wasn't anyway. My mom was rushing to my bedside, her eyes wide and her nostrils flared. She grabbed my arm started your antibiotics. Like I said, I wasn't using shortcut when I said the next thing I knew my mom's is got even wider and she world for the door. I can only imagine what happened at the nurses station in terms of the supernatural, like my mom's sprouting scaly wings and turning into a demon. Rightfully so someone had forgotten to start the IV antibiotics that had been deemed urgent. The night I was admitted to a hospital where in addition to having once worked, she'd given birth to all three of my brothers. I'll never know. Of course, whether I was close to losing my arm or to any of the other catastrophes that might have befallen my body of the staph infection had gone checked. I also do not know how much of the Bill from my three day stay in the hospital. My parents had to pay, but my educated guess is none of it. I do know that when I got out of the hospital, it was with a port in my arm through which I've e- antibiotics were delivered for the next two weeks during daily trips back to the hospital. Thanks to all this trauma in the fact that I couldn't work out while my body recovered from its invasion. I also lost twenty pounds. I didn't have to lose all of this while all manner of Macintoshes had probably been going on at Iowa State and at Kansas. Sometime during my recovery, a chill, flushed, my spine. I told my high school coach to call Kansas hadn't. I regret poured through me in a way that is familiar to anyone who's checked the messages they sent after at night, made hazy by drinking. My call had made a lot of sense when I'd been a hail athletic specimen that almost any college program would be happy to have it made a whole lot lessons now that I'd return to looking like a scarecrow the real problem was this one by asking my coach to call Kansas. I'd already largely committed to carrying through with going Kansas. If the new coach at Iowa State this you stay. She fellow found out I was considering leaving. Well, that's probably why someone I applied the phrase burning bridges to situations that didn't involve actual bridges. I dialed my high school coach with even more fear than when I'd called Kelly step kit for the first time coach. Yeah. Did you call Kansas? There was a pause. No, Paul didn't. It felt the little disloyal. I don't know that my si- of relief was audible. I do know that it was a conflicted sigh of relief because on the one hand, my high school coach had inadvertently saved me from a storm of confusion and he wasn't wrong. I had to be thankful for what I'd gotten so far from Iowa State, but on the other heat, sorta kinda taken my destiny in his own hands. And what I'd gotten from Iowa State, I mostly owed to the man who just left. Then there was that quote, from my brothers, new teammate, you do not want to play for that man, but I'd had enough conflict for one summer, so I reported to my now familiar campus tilling. No one had designs on being there again. In my first encounter with my new coach, the husband of Stacey, you stay. She did nothing to allay my concerns about his interpersonal skills. When I was finished telling him the story of my terrifying summer, he said, well, at least you weren't the guy. I was reading about a few days ago. He got a staph infection while sailing across the Atlantic lamb self and had to cut off his own arm. Okay. Well, you're not wrong coach, but jeez, thanks to the staff infection. Thanks to a long term strategy. You stay. She was cooking up. It was decided that I was going to spend the season as a redshirt, a player who can practice, but not play. The plan was for me to gain weight and strength. While we awaited the arrival of a couple of recruits that were going to make far better the following season, then even that plan fell apart. When I recovered from the staff infection, a sharp pain in my pelvis led to the discovery of an aversion fracture in my right issue them the bone in your pelvis that makes it look like a poorly, John Hart. My hamstring had pulled a piece of this phone away which explain the stabbing pain. Anytime I leaned over to pull on a pair of socks. This was on top of the staff infection and those on top of the fact that you stay, she had never seen me play. Faded into the background, a ghost relegated to the sidelines during practice in St. closed during games, ignored by my coaches and teammates. They were getting distance from me like I was a leper or an ex girlfriend. I couldn't blame them. I didn't know if I'd be able to play college basketball. Again, there was though one thing I could do lift weights. So each day is my teammates started practice. I reported to the weight room where I listened to Zach della Rocca rage while I took out my frustrations on the assorted weight lifting apparatus available to me when I got into college, I weighed two hundred pounds and bench, press one hundred and eighty five of them, which by the standards of college basketball would be labeled terrible. By the end of that Richard season, two hundred and thirty pounds. It could bench press three hundred and thirty, which by the standards of Larry, Stacey would be labeled as acceptable, but which by the standards of most people would be labeled as nearly superhuman. As winter turned to spring, I was cleared to practice on the court. I noticed that my newfound Braun provided me with a new set of options. If I wasn't scoring points or getting rebounds, I could keep other people from doing those things before I'd relied on my wits on the court. Now I was relying on my body and in the process becoming that, which I'd once resented the physical specimen who throws himself around the court, like he's the disk in a game of air hockey, but I told myself it would be worth it because the thing that is usually true about guys who are big and play hard. Basketball coach will find a way to get those guys on the court. Even if that coach is the sort of asshole, who when you explain your staff infection to him shrugs and tells you that at least you didn't have to cut off your arm. We started the following season my junior year on a sour note losing two of our first three games, but we found the melody after that winning twenty two of the next twenty three and rising to number fourteen in the national polls. Well, also, jostling for position atop the big twelve conference despite his prickly demeanor or perhaps because of it, you stay. She had done a masterful job of pairing income and superstar Marcus visor with Iowa's dates, newest toy, Brooklyn playground legend. Dumol Tinsley. Next up was a game in the home of the team with which we were jostling at the top of the conference table, the university of Kansas. The game was on ESPN. Part of that network's big Monday coverage. It had been a year and a half since the staph infection. And the memory of my dalliance with Kansas had been replaced by a familiar narrative. The one that featured ROY Williams telling me I would never be good enough to play in the big twelve. And yet here I was ROY doing exactly that. The week before the game. I stayed for an extra hour after each practice shooting free, throws the image of ROY Williams face floated above the basket. Somehow I was going to show him show all of them that I belong. I wasn't sure how though. Knew better than anyone how rarely Kansas lost on its home court inside cavernous Allen Fieldhouse named after legendary coach Forrest Claire thog Alan whose mentor had been the guy who invented the game. These are two of the ghosts that haunt Allen Fieldhouse. They aren't the only ones. There's Dean Smith who learned the game at fog Allen's feet before becoming a coaching legend in his own, right. There's CLYDE Lavelle lead Kansas to its first national championship in nineteen fifty two. There's any manning we'd lead Kansas to its second national championship in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight causing me to go into paroxysms of joy. Won't spotted manning at the end of an aisle in the Lawrence WalMart, we were in town to watch the Christmas vespers program put on by the university. I was nine years old. Do I asked my mother. For his autograph. Mr. manning, can I have your autograph. It was still in a cork board in my childhood bedroom as the game tipped off. Many years later, Kansas forward, Nick collison would tell me that at halftime of the game after I'd outwitted him and his teammate drew Gooden for several offense. Rebounds ROY Williams screamed at both of them. Do you knew over Meridian which he said wrong, not knowing right one Kansas is no. Well, if Shirley gets another offensive rebound in the second half, I'm going to tight in my car and after the game, I'm going to drag you there. I think I got another offensive rebound in the second half and I don't think ROY Williams tied either policy or good and do his car. He must've forgotten caught up in the excitement like everyone inside Allen Fieldhouse. He could be forgiven. The oversight our game was one of those that made kids like me fall in love with basketball and old fashioned barn burner that had all fifteen thousand eight hundred fans on their feet. For most of the game, the roar they created came at us like Wade's so loud that we had to signal each other with our hands. It was all I could do to keep from thinking. About what was happening. We were really doing it beating Kansas in the place where no one beats Kansas in I was having a lot to do with it. Coach stay. She may not have been the sort of gentle soul. I wanted him to be, but he was smart enough to take advantage of six foot nine, two hundred and thirty pounds. Human was willing to turn himself into a missile in the service of retribution. At the end of play, went our way, and then a plate went their way, and then a play went our way again. And pretty soon there wasn't much time left and the game came down to the end of the story was also the beginning of the story. Me at the free throw line in Allen Fieldhouse with a chance to seal the win for my team at Kansas and a chance to seal something like vindication for myself. I was sweating hard in my red and gold uniform, which seemed godly bright. When mixed up with Kansas is pristine home whites behind me. A giant Jayhawk was painted across the floor. The mythical bird had replaced a massive, yellow map of Kansas, the color and shape burned into my memory from those games I used to watch as a child. I was tired from all those rebounds and from the days of preparation leading up to the game, the late nights and the post practice free throw sessions. When imagined. This vary scenario visualizing ROY Williams, his face anytime I got tired or felt like quitting the crowd bought and the basket swayed from right to left now, dribble twice and I shot my free throw and the ball bounced once on the front of the rim. And once on the back. And then as with most things in life, it just happened no more preamble, no more anticipation. No more preparation. The ball fell through the net. We need just wanted Kansas. The crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse didn't roar because home crowds don't roar for the opposition. They seemed a little pissed off in fact, robbed of their chance to start the chant that brings forth ago STS raw Shah Jay. Haw my teammates skipped toward one another ready to celebrate ready to leap into waiting arms. I walked toward the Iowa State bench a few yards from ROY Williams. I'd imagine this moment ever since that visit to his office through practices through early morning. Wakeup calls through summer sessions on the track through feverish nights with IV antibiotics being dispensed into my arms, ROY Williams words bouncing through my head like one of those Super Bowls in the back of a u. haul. It wasn't just about him. Of course it was all of them. All of those division. One coaches who thought I was too skinny or too short or from two small town. This didn't make me any different from thousands or millions or billions of others before me driven by something a man said to them. But in this case it was me and now I had to decide what to do with ROY Williams. The options ran through my head like a menu. Should I shake his hand and say, nothing. Should I give him a wink in laugh? Should I flip in the bird? Then through the fans, the players, the people from ESPN his is found mine like a Kennedy bullet, didn't odd. I didn't. Wink. I didn't flip him the bird only smiled and he only looked away because I was twenty one years old and because I was more by rage than reason. It was only the greatest feeling I'd ever had. The playmate from zuri taps. The side of her empty wine glass with a blood red fingernail. She says the pretty much forgotten about almost becoming a traitor. My laugh and lean into the vinyl behind me, the ignorance of youth Irit just trying to square the circle in your head. I can feel the wrinkle in my brow. What do you mean? Like people who get divorced? I once read somewhere that usually when people split up there on okay terms. But by the end, there's a good chance. They'll hate each other because of the lawyers and stuff. No, because they need to convince themselves that they made the right decision. Our brains don't linked to be uncomfortable, so I had to decide I hated ROY Williams even though like forty, five percent. We wanted to still be playing for him exactly swirl the fuel remaining drops of blind around the crimson dot at the bottom of my glass, it'll probably only get worse want it. Way better. The story as I get older, I'll probably forget more and more about how many ways I could have ended up at Kansas, and it'll become a story about me versus big bad, ROY Williams. She says, rising out of her chair still a hell of a story, though this is what I wanted to hear all that long. Of course. We moved to her bedroom. She's got one of those memory foam mattresses and lying down as a relief after a night of standing around at the playboy mansion. We kiss a little, but nothing happens as it were. It's too late and she says, she's not that kind of girl. And as I go to sleep, I'm feeling pretty good about that because who knows it might be kind of interesting to date a former playmate, take her home to Kansas have meet my family. People won't understand because they never do, but who am I to judge her for being in playboy. I was in the NBA and people make all sorts of judgments about that. Not to mention. She's wiser than she has any right to be. As I drift off. I'm congratulating myself on the new maximum. I've just worked up. Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. You shouldn't judge a playmate by her centerfold. My wake up today, daylight streaming into her bedroom. It must be ten AM I'm alone. So she's probably in the bathroom or maybe in the kitchen. I do a quick body scan to gauge how I feel, which is not nearly as bad as I thought considering that I had way more than one free drank before that bad rapper took the stage at the mansion I look around the room, live laugh. Love is on blocks on a shelf, and there's a dance like no one's watching poster and such things might turn me off if she sold insurance or top third grade. But in this case they serve as ballast kind of weighed against the playboy thing. Like all the other things I've done service counterweight against the playing in the NBA thing. I continue my survey of the room rotating my head counterclockwise asked the dresser, the mirror, another shelf, this one with candles on it, and that's when I see it above her bed, blown up to twenty four inches by thirty six inches is a picture. It's her own centerfold. I turn sharply so I can see the whole thing. I'm hoping it will at least be painful pans covering pubis, that sort of thing. It is not tasteful. One hand is on her hip, pushing her naked pelvis toward the camera, her breasts are fully exposed making the photo more National Geographic than not. But most important. It's above her bed. Hey, she says from the doorway I world from the poster. Hi, my voice has more enthusiasm than I intend because my brain is being overrun with questions. What happens when her parents come to visit when friends are over with unsuspecting gentlemen, collars like myself, she leans into the door jamb playing de and get back. I say. If you think you could take me to my car. Remember what I said about not judging girl by her centerfold. That's only true if it isn't hanging over her bed. Thanks for staying all the way to the end on a serious note. I appreciate that you took the time to listen to my voice, and I hope you'll subscribe and share with your friends, a big, thank you to lunch, break entertainment for their help in bringing this oral adventure to life because everyone should go on an adventure once in a while. Oh, by the way, that's oral with an AU, Google it. If you have to.