Point Guard

October 1, 2007

Poetry of the Times

"Hit the open man!"

Head coach Red Holzman's strategy for the New York Knicks

championship basketball team, 1970 and 1973

I love to tell teenaged boys the story

of the famous shot when Doctor J went up

and under and around Kareem before

he slammed the ball home. I tell them Doctor J

gave all the credit to Kareem for forcing

him to fly in ways he had never flown before,

that there is always a big man between

you and the basket and he will teach you

how to create your own way to score.

Believe me, I know this is pure cliché,

but the boys I see are seventeen and can't

name the oceans surrounding the USA.

Yet a few have seen the highlight clip,

and most know enough to nod and listen

to my middle-aged white-guy stories about

where I sat the nights the Knicks took their titles.

But they're not sure they should believe me

when I say I'm still dreaming Red Holzman

will call me up to the pros to play point guard,

that I'm practicing medicine somewhere past halftime,

dribbling up court, checking out the defense,

always looking to hit the open man.