Excerpt from Plank Brothers
Hello, everyone! We are really excited about our new book coming out next week, Plank Brothers, from our friend Eric L. Taylor! Please take a look below at a short excerpt from the book, and be sure to check back for more!
Sweat dripped off the players’ brows as they bent over to grab their shorts and gasp for deep breaths of air. Their collective mindset focused on getting through the last part of practice: the last-team-standing drill. Essentially a test of mental and physical toughness, the drill consisted of two teams of three players. Coach Van Gundy shot the basketball with the intent of it caroming off the rim. All six players battled for the ball with the goal being an offensive put-back. The team that reached five buckets first was the winner. The losing team had to run wind sprints.
Coach Van Gundy put together a trio of Garrison, Kobe, and Mike in the last round of the day. They matched up against Danny Fisher, Andrew Wilson, and freshman Steph Croom.
Garrison was slightly pissed he and Kobe drew Mike as a teammate in the drill. He had yet to show any intensity through practice, and it was grating at Garrison more and more as the drill went on. The players engaged in a back-and-forth affair seemingly on the verge of a fight every single play. That’s exactly what Van Gundy wanted for his winless team—hunger, fight, and desperation. With the score notched at four apiece, the next put-back would be the winner.
Coach Van Gundy shot a brick that bounced high off the rim. The mob of bodies under the basket went up for the ball almost in unison. It bounced to the left and looked to be going out of bounds along the baseline. Garrison yearned to be the hero to win the game, but he frustratingly found himself on the weak side. Mike was within reach of the basketball. Garrison knew if Mike could grab the ball, power dribble and put his rear end into Danny to create space, he would have an easy kiss off the glass to win the game.
Instead, Mike barely extended his arms before seemingly letting the ball bounce out of bounds. He didn’t even make a token attempt to grab the ball. That was the final straw.
“What are you doing!” erupted Garrison. “Is that how they do it in the Big Apple, the big city? Damn soft as Charmin!”
As soon as the words left his mouth, he wanted a takeback. This was not what Meg had in mind when she had told him to be there for Mike, listen to him and try to establish a friendship. The rest of the team was wide-eyed at the outburst. They all knew Garrison was intense, but he had never really gotten after a teammate like that. He would talk a little trash and try to motivate, but he was not a screamer.
Mike looked like he wanted to be anywhere else in the world. His shoulders were slumped. He was staring at the ground, and looked like he was trying not to cry. Garrison was instantly ashamed of what he’d done. He was about to apologize when Coach Van Gundy intervened.
“Alright! Everyone, I mean everyone, on the line for suicides! Let’s go,” he yelled. There was some groaning, but everyone lined up for the worst conditioning drill ever invented. They had to run from the baseline to the free-throw line and back, and repeat the process to half court, then the other free-throw line, and lastly the far baseline. However, Coach Van Gundy thought that was too soft, so he had added in the top of both three-point lines to the mix as well.
After about a dozen sprints—Garrison had lost count—the starch was out of the situation, and nerves had somewhat calmed. Coach Van Gundy blew his whistle twice, signifying an end to the conditioning. The whole team let out an audible sigh. Danny barely made it to the trash can on the side of the gym where he lost his lunch. Garrison, despite being in great shape, felt like he would have joined him if they had to run even one more step.
Coach Van Gundy called everyone together and preached teamwork and toughness but did not address Garrison’s outburst. As the team came together to put their hands in and yell, “Pirates,” Coach made eye contact with Garrison and nodded his head in the direction of his office. Garrison just knew he was in trouble for speaking so forcefully to a teammate. After all, there was a different set of rules for Mike.