Tales from therapy

Published February 18, 2007

Transcript re-printed with permission from the Offices of Psychologist David A. Murphy, M.D. Specializing in Basketballology


DR. MURPHY: Good morning, Mr. Basketball.

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Good morning, Doc. I appreciate you seeing me on such short notice.

DR. MURPHY: Well, normally I wouldn't. But my receptionist said you showed up to the office this morning brandishing a bottle of Tylenol PM and a compound bow. I have to say, I'm a little concerned.

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: You should be, Doc. I'm at the end of my rope. Nobody loves me. Don't you know how that feels?

DR. MURPHY: Of course I do. I spent time as a high school sports writer. I'm a middle child. I know the feeling very well.

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Well, nobody in this county loves me. Nobody.

DR. MURPHY: Why not?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: I don't know. Why do you think I came to you?

DR. MURPHY: Well, why don't you think anybody in this county loves you?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: What else am I supposed to think? On Thursday, Springstead hosted Bishop Moore in a region quarterfinal and 149 people showed up. 149! Two days earlier, Nature Coast's girls team hosted West Port. I didn't even bother to ask about attendance. I could have counted it myself - if I wasn't too busy searching for my Valium.

DR. MURPHY: Go on . . .

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: I mean, 150 people is a lot for a game of darts. Maybe even a game of Jenga. But basketball? In the playoffs? The place was quieter than the Laugh Factory after Michael Richards went berserk. You should have heard the grief John Q. Quiz Bowl was giving me at the water cooler the next day.

DR. MURPHY: How did that make you feel?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: How do you think it made me feel? I was born in 1891, for crying out loud. I still remember the sparkle in Naismath's eyes when he grabbed me out of the closet. You should have seen the way the fellas at the YMCA looked at him when he tacked those peach baskets to that elevated track. (laughing). They thought he'd lost his mind. People say football and baseball are America's sports, but people have been playing versions of both since at least the 16th century. Shoot, the only thing Doubleday did was take cricket and change the name. I wouldn't be surprised if Cavemen played a form of baseball. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Julio Franco taught it to them.

DR. MURPHY: I think we're getting off track.

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Well, you would, too, if you watched an entire county of people thumb their noses at the purest of all American games. I'm the John Mellencamp of sports. But people around here would rather watch a colonoscopy. And it makes no sense. They'd show up to watch 22 donkeys play football. But you've got two basketball teams in this county that went a combined 28-0 in their district this season and people would rather stay home and watch Heroes.

DR. MURPHY: Heroes was actually on Monday.

JOHN. Q. BASKETBALL: Even better. Where else did people have to go? The Florida State Fair? Applebee's?

DR. MURPHY: Do you think the small crowd made a difference in the Springstead game?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Absolutely. Don't get me wrong: Bishop Moore was the better team, and the better team won. The Hornets play the game it was meant to be played . . .

DR. MURPHY: (interrupting) You mean they shoot on peach baskets?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: No, I mean they always make the extra pass, they shoot the ball, they play great defense . . .

DR. MURPHY: So what impact could the crowd have had?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Plenty. There was a point in time where Springstead had climbed back from a 16-point deficit to cut the lead to 42-40. Did the fans who were in the stands yell? Sure. But imagine the impact 600 fans would have had. In that small of a gym? Bishop Moore wouldn't have been able to hear itself think. Instead, the Hornets remained calm and ended up pulling away.

DR. MURPHY: So what can be done? Will Hernando County ever embrace basketball?

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: It doesn't look like it. The crowds have been abysmal all season. I cornered Springstead athletic director Bob Levija in a broom closet after the game and he told me the biggest crowd the school had ever seen for a basketball game was 600. That was against arch-rival Nature Coast earlier this year. And half those people didn't show up to watch basketball, they showed up hoping a fight would break out. Levija said he and other athletic directors have been brain-storming ways to get people excited about basketball. They formulated a plan that would have allowed students into games for free, but he says the school board shot it down because it couldn't afford to pay the referees.

DR. MURPHY: That's a shame. Where I grew up, every basketball game was a social event.

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Tell me about it . . .

DR. MURPHY: Friday nights, packed houses, opposing schools busing their fans 40 minutes for a game . . .

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Yes, go on . . .

DR. MURPHY: At my school, you didn't miss a basketball game. When you were in the stands, you watched the whole thing . . .

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: How did that make you feel?

DR. MURPHY: It was great. There's nothing like a packed gymnasium on a Friday night while a player from a rival high school is trying to shoot the front end of a 1-and-1. The energy, the emotion, the electricity (voice starts cracking up) . . .

(awkward silence)

JOHN Q. BASKETBALL: Doc, you alright?


(more silence)

DR. MURPHY: On second thought, pass me some of that Tylenol PM.

Dr. David A. Murphy can be reached at dmurphy@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1407.

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