- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"...100!" Charlie looked excited enough to uncork a bottle of champagne, but I called for the ball. "Hurry," I urged, "before I faint." He thought I was kidding; I was not. The ball seemed to be swelling. I sensed that my arch was increasing with each shot, that I was brushing the rafters and was bound to miss. But somehow the ball kept cutting the net."...105...106...107...."
Coach Ceravolo reappeared, carrying a sport coat on a hanger. "Still going?"
"...108," Charlie said hoarsely, catching the ball with one hand as it dropped from the net.
"You'll have to stop at 125," Coach said. "I'm sorry, but I have to close the gym."
I didn't argue this time. I wanted it to be over. "...113...114..." With an enforced end in sight, I might as well have been reshooting the first 25, the pressure-free two bits that had started my streak a half hour earlier. Grab, bounce, lift, release...swish. "...124." Grab, bounce, lift, release...swish.
My sleep that night was a perforated strip of feverish dreams and wide-eyed delirium. My feet twitched. Basket, rim and net floated before me: Grab, bounce, lift, release...swish. Grab, bounce, lift, release...wish.
The next night we played Lake Worth High School at its gym, and during warmups my hands felt cold and stiff. My jump shots hit the backboard like sacks of flour, my hook shot couldn't be coaxed over the rim. I went to the foul line to shoot a few free throws, and my teammates stopped shooting to watch. I made my first two and missed the third.
The string was ended at 127. Basketballs rained on the rim as my teammates resumed shooting.
I found celebrity to be perishable. I received no ribbons or plaques for my feat. For a while, nobody would rebound for me in practice for fear of missing dinner, but that, too, soon passed. (I don't think I had another streak longer than 40 or 50 that year.) I do remember a game in Vero Beach in which Coach Ceravolo honored me by having me shoot a technical foul, usually the task of our high-scoring point guard, Terry Kimmel.