Bad Sporting memories: Being bested by my sister in basketball in front of a crowd
When I was a kid I was encouraged to be involved in as many sports as possible. My parents were very supportive of all of this with me and my other siblings. There was one particular member of our family that shined just a little bit brighter in her sport of choice though and this was evident at a very young age.
To be fair to her she worked a LOT harder than the rest of us did to excel at basketball or really any other sport that we all attempted. There is a video of us on Christmas day from the early 90's where myself and my other siblings were so excited about the fact that we had gotten a Sega Genesis from Santa and my older sister got new Nike basketball shoes and a trip to a elite basketball training camp. This is what she wanted for Christmas too and that just shows that her dedication to excellence in that sport was of paramount importance to her.
The rest of us were good at sports as well but we never put in the work like she did. I also recall that she had these shoes that were meant to strengthen your calves and she would wear them everywhere regardless of how silly they looked. I have no idea if those shoes worked, but she was so dedicated that she would wear them in the hopes that she was going to increase her vertical by a few inches. The rest of us were trying to master Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog.
While she was a lot more dedicated than I was and certainly at basketball, I was nearly a foot taller than her and kind of expected to be able to defeat her anyway. Boy was I ever wrong.
this is not us... cameras used film back then and took a week to get the prints back
There was a league at the local YMCA that everyone that was interested in basketball could play in. My sister was too good for the girls' league and elected to be the first ever female to be allowed to play in the boys league. We are only 2 years apart in age so we were in the same age division based solely upon our birthdays falling just inside the cutoff points. We were NOT on the same team.
I was always supportive of my sister and would cheer her on when she would play all the way up to the point where she played overseas in multiple professional leagues and even had a brief stint with the WNBA. She is only 5 foot 2 so this is a VERY BIG accomplishment. I was always on her side, win or lose.... but not on that one day where she was on the team opposite me at the YMCA.
I wish I could say that I handled it like a man, but I was only 11 or 12 years old at the time and my emotions got the best of me. Despite being one of the better players on my team and averaging over 10 points a game and 4 rebounds, I was nowhere near as talented as my sister. I can't really blame the coach for this but he wanted us to play man-on-man (are we still allowed to say that?) rather than a zone defense. He figured that since I grew up with her that I would be better at defending her. This is not really how it worked out.
My sister was a lot more familiar with my playstyle than I was with hers and time after time she would cross me out, misdirect me, or simply force me to jump for a block only to run around me for an easy layup. I distinctly remember trying to play closer to the hoop to try to prevent this but then she would just rain down jumpers and 3-pointers and ended up scoring nearly 30 points that game. This isn't much of a rare thing in professional circuits but for a YMCA game where the teams rarely even score 50 points each, this was a momentous occasion.
I'd like to say that I handled this humiliation well but I didn't. I acted like a little baby and at one point got a technical foul for kicking over a folding chair. My parents were not very pleased with my attitude and were quite ashamed about the fact that my sister's performance was overshadowed by how much of a little shit I was acting like.
I will say that I learned a lot from that day and am still embarrassed about it to this day. Outbursts of that sort never look good even at a professional level and me and my sister still talk about it to this day nearly 30 years later.
To be fair she went on to be featured in USA Today as the "first team" in all of the United States high school players and I didn't even continue to play past my sophomore year. She was scouted by dozens on universities for a complete athletic scholarship and eventually decided on the University of Miami, who were very pleased to have her. She would later go on to set records at Miami that remained in the record books for nearly a decade so considering all of that, she definitely put in the work to outscore her younger brother by 25 points on that day.
Unfortunately for her, when she graduated from college the WNBA didn't exist and whatever the league was called that existed before that had just shut down, so her options were limited about having a career in basketball. She would later play in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and even Russia. Towards her late 20's she was recruited by the Phoenix Mercury but was so old that her contract came with an injury clause and halfway into her first season she got injured and was cut.
I only ever watched the WNBA for those few games when she was on the team and I'm not going to call her out about how little her salary was. The good news is that she bounced back and was able to form a very lucrative career as a personal trainer and girls' basketball ambassador for Nike. She also gave a commencement speech at our high school. I was never invited to do such a thing.
I think we can all learn to take defeat a little bit better than we do and I really wish that I had handled that particular day at the YMCA differently. I look back and wish I had high-fived her when she made good plays instead of acting like a spoiled brat and making a scene. The ignorance of youth is really the only thing I can pin that on since I have in fact lived most of my life in a very level-headed way.
I love my sister and celebrate all of her accomplishments. She does the same for me. It was just that one day where she was a bitter enemy and I handled it poorly. I learned a lot that day though and there was only a few other times in my entire life that I let my emotions get the best of me in sports, especially with family involved.
That poor folding chair... it's not too late to apologize. I wonder if it is still there at the YMCA?
It's amazing that your sister got that good at 5"2'!!!
yes she was quite the pride and joy of the family because the odds were against her based on physical attributes. If anything, a lot more was expected of me at 6 feet tall and 175 lbs (in my prime)... I just didn't put in the work like she did and she deserved all the success she achieved.
I should have gone into folding chair kicking as a sport because I was really good at that.
I know of some people who brought Fistball to South Africa so that they could claim to be Springboks (SA National Team). They went to a proper tournament and got thrashed by all the countries that actually play the game at all... Hahaha!
now i am going to have to look up what a Fistball is :)
That's the competition gets beyond the normal situation. I was also frustrated when my dad beat me at tennis. I've got very frustrated since I took it seriously and went to tennis classes and all and my dad who didn't practice at all was kicking my ass.
Dad's are good at that though, aren't they? It was many years before I could best my father at most physical things and to this day, even though he is in his 70's I wouldn't fancy my chances in a scrap with him!
Funny how we see the fairer sex as weaker and just expect to beat them no matter what. She was dedicated to the sport and practice makes perfect so you really didn't stand a chance. 5ft2 is seriously short for basketball as I struggle to hit the loop and I am 6ft5 so forget the slam dunks as It is not happening.
in my basketball prime I could touch the rim but for anything bigger than a tennis ball you can forget about me ever dunking. You need some serious "hops" for that. Being a good perimeter player I think is more important though anyway, especially in the way that most pro ball seems to be about showboating these days rather than putting points on the board. A jumper from 12 feet counts just as many points as a behind the back slam dunk jumping over the defender.
It was this excellence at distance that lead my sister to her excellence and she also was great at drawing fouls, which was a bad mistake because she had a near 100% free-throw percentage and this was the main record that stuck at her university for around a decade.