Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Opinion: If more were like ‘Big Dave’

December 18, 2003

Chances are slim that people around these parts have heard of Dave Selbe. They're even less that people have seen "Big Dave" play basketball.

And that, dear friends, is a downright shame.

In today's era, negative elements of basketball (Ricky Clemons, Dave Bliss, shoe companies, agents, etc.) plague the game like a virus and foster a disgust among fans.

With these detractions, too numerous to recount here, it's easy to label the game as corrupt. It's even easier to forget, much like I have before, what draws us to the game in the first place.

I can say without question the most surefire remedy for this ailment is spending a couple of hours each Saturday morning with Big Dave. A couple of hours playing basketball, heck even just shooting around with him, you'll come away remembering what's good, pure and right about basketball.

I promise you that.

Big Dave, a husband, father of three and foreman in the carpenter's union, resides in the Piper area. He is the uncle of Jake and Greg Laffere, two prolific hoopsters who played at Basehor-Linwood High School, and brother of Karen, a Basehor resident.

He's in his mid-40s, is approximately 6-foot-5 and has bad knees. He's also possessed with the court vision of an alley cat, the deadliest jump and hook shots I've ever seen and a passion for the game I sure as hell haven't seen anywhere else.

On Saturday mornings, Big Dave, a few other weekend warriors and myself, gather inside an old gymnasium to play pick-up ball.

Each and every game, Big Dave is out there quietly working his tail off, setting screens, rebounding and playing team basketball that would make patriarchs of the game such as Dean Smith and John Wooden proud.

And make no mistake, this guy has game. Serious game. The highest compliment players can receive is that their team wins and more often than not, teams with Big Dave hold the court.

The thing that amazes me isn't that Big Dave is an extremely good player (which he is), but that he plays the game with respect and zeal. If more people in basketball had his passion and work ethic, the game of basketball wouldn't be in such bad shape. No more Jim Harricks, no more Myron Piggies.

Between games, we Saturday players usually take a break and shoot the bull before playing again. Each break, you'll find Big Dave still on the court shooting baskets, most of his shots dropping inside the hoop like someone casually tossing pebbles into the ocean.

When the last game is played, after everyone says they're too tired to play another, you'll still find Big Dave on the court shooting. Woe to anyone who faces him in a game of Around the World or a free throw shooting contest like I did on Saturday.

After two games of Around the World, which Big Dave won easily, we settled into a free throw shooting contest, best out of 50. I thought I did a decent job, 40 of 50 ain't that bad, but Big Dave smoked me.

It's hard to beat a guy who doesn't miss, and Dave never missed -- 50 up, 50 down.

After it was over, he started heading for home.

Before leaving, he said he'd be back next week whether it was to play a game or just shoot around. I don't doubt for a second he'll be back.

No matter the circumstances, great players always want the ball in their hands.

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