February 27, 2001

Some Things Just Can't Be Missed

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For years my brother and I battled on the basketball court. Being four years and five inches his superior, on paper I should have won easily. Yet our one-on-one games that were supposed to end at 21 would always drift into the wee hours of darkness until one of us heaved a shot into the dimmed hoop ending the thriller. We had a healthy rivalry that only strengthened our relationship. Win or lose, we were always bonded by our mutual love for the game of basketball.

My brother David took his passion for the game to the next level and earned a spot on the Plainview varsity basketball team. Now after three years of rigorous practice and dedication, Plainview has the chance to be crowned Nassau County champion. There is only one problem, I am not sure I can make tomorrow night’s Nassau County Final Four showdown against Hempstead. Besides the five-hour drive to Long Island, I have a prelim the next day. But I ask myself, how can I not watch my little brother compete in the most important basketball game of his life?

I can only imagine his pre-game shenanigans. For regular season games, he religiously listens to the Survivor hit, “Eye of the Tiger” replaying it about thirty times. For this post-season contest, he will probably set a Guinness record for the number of “Eye of the Tiger” playbacks.

I want to be there to experience his pre-game intensity, his passion and his ferocious longing to put a victory in the books for his team.

I want to be there when my parents are driving to the game.

I want to be there to experience the nervous anticipation of watching a loved one participate in the biggest game of his life.

I want to be there when they introduce the starting lineup and the P.A. announcer says, “Now starting at shooting guard, number 11, David Skolnik.”

I want to be there when my parents get teary-eyed as they proudly gaze in my brother’s direction.

I want to be there to get teary-eyed with them.

I want to be there to sit next to my father while he nervously flaps his legs awaiting a Plainview basket or key defensive stop.

I want to be there to see my father’s involuntary body movement as he tries to will the ball through the bottom of the net when my brother takes an outside jumper.

I want to be there to watch my brother’s friends excitedly root him on, waving posters with #11 written in bold lettering.

I want to be there to root him on myself.

We have had too much history, too much camaraderie, and too much mutual respect for me to miss a game of this importance. Five hours of driving and a prelim the next day will be a fleeting memory, while my brother playing in a college stadium with a thousand roaring fans will be an indelible one. A memory, which I just decided, will be experienced first-hand.

Go get ’em, Dave.

Archived article by Jason Skolnik