The Gus Macker was great fun. Even though we at The News were oh-for-2, two-and-done, doubly eliminated.
The squad that competed in the Friday-only corporate challenge was myself, sales intern and current University at Buffalo
student Holly Pryzbysz (a name I hopefully spelled right when she was a
standout at Kenmore West) and buffalo.com's Dave Jarka and Ben and Tom Kirst.
The first game pitted us against West Herr Honda, which apparently has
very tall people selling cars or working on cars. They had a duo that
was just too big for us. We hung in there early on but ended up falling
by like 8-1 or something. (The one basket will be the one I'll be
telling everyone about, however -- a drive from the left side finished
with an up-and-under move and a layup. Booyah.)
We were headed to the loser's bracket, where our opponent would be
either Coca-Cola or Athleticare. Coke was leading, and they had a dude
in skinny dreads who looked very familiar. Sure enough, it was East
High grad (and 2008 All-Western New York first-teamer) Jamal Webb.
Luckily for me, there was no chance for Webb to posterize me -- Coke
At Athleticare, they take care of people, which apparently means they
are very adept at hurting people as well. Hey, we kid because we care
-- and because we lost to them. :-)
More big, physical dudes. This was the first game I received an armbar
on a drive to the hole. Early on I went baseline and ended up with a
contact lens dislodged (but I got some great help from -- no joke --
the trainers' trainer, who hooked me up with some solution).
I haven't gotten my Macker on in about 10 years, but at the end of the
game a ref said, "They shouldn't call it the Macker, they should call
it the Mauler."
Even Athleticare's female (every team must have one) was about a
head-and-a-half on Holly (who gets my vote as our MVP). I think we
managed a few more points in this one, but the score was similar to the
first. Athleticare ran some pretty give-and-go's late to settle things,
and the biggest dude among the big dudes posted me up and played Dwight
Howard to my Anderson Varejao.
Despite me knowing every referee in the joint on a first-name basis, our Macker was over.
But it was a great time with some co-workers, a nice chance to see some
coaches, officials and players I see in high school gyms all winter --
even if I showed why I write about the hoops instead of play the hoops. I might check out the action of what should be a great hoop festival on Saturday.
As I walked out, I got the ultimate cutdown from Dick Gallagher, the
guru of Western New York high school football. He was smiling his
devilish smile, the one he usually reserves for trash talking to Yankee
fans about how they are living in the decade of the Boston Red Sox.
"We'll call you if we're doing a story," he said, "on how not to play basketball."
I got one thing for Mr. Gallagher and the Macker. In the words of Timmy Lupus, "Just wait til next year!"