Most of you playground hoopers remember playing 21

I was thinking about one of the funniest things I ever saw. Though it’s never that funny when I tell the story (so don’t get your hopes up). I guess it’s just one of those things were you just had to “be there” to get the impact. Because it was so unbelievable. You could file this story under: “SOMETIMES YOU JUST CAN’T WIN.”

Six of us were hanging out at the playground playing 21. You hoopers are probably familiar with the game of 21. You get 2 points for field goals and 1 point for free throws. First one to score 21 points wins. With the caveat that if you get to 20 but miss the free throw you go back to 12. So that’s the pressure shot. The game-winning free throw when you get to 20.

So this one guy is having the game of his life. Every shot he throws up goes in. But every time he gets to 20 he misses the crucial free throw and goes back to 12. He got to 20 four times — lapped us four times — but then misses the free throw. Ha ha. So we’re all laughing and ragging on him. “CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE!” And we can tell the pressure is getting to him. He’s concentrating so hard it just makes his free throw farther and farther off course. Clanking off the rim.

So he laps us again. But this time when he gets to 19 he decides to play it smart. He decides he’s going to purposely miss the free throw. That way he can easily win the game later with a 2-point field goal later, with no pressure on him.

So he’s at the foul line. And he just flings the ball at the basket as hard as he can without even looking at the rim.

Of course the ball goes right in the basket. It was such a shocking sight, it was so unexpected, we’re all literally rolling around on the grpund laughing our guts off. Except for him. He’s standing there at the foul line in complete disbelief, groaning “OOOOH NOOOO!!” He can’t believe it. When he was trying to score he kept missing. And now when he’s trying to miss he scores. Ha ha. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Now he’s back at 20 again. And has to try and hit the game-winning free throw yet again. He’s concentrating so hard now, he’s trembling. And of course his shot is way off. “NOOOOO!! NOOOOO!!!!” Back to 12 for him. Loser. And somebody else ended up winning the game.

Sometimes I think the gods fuck with us for sport.

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