Enjoy this inspiring sports action, from Wednesday’s second-round playoff game between two Pittsburgh high school basketball teams:
There’s no shot clock in this league, even though a 2018 poll indicated that a majority of coaches would prefer it. Here’s as strong an argument for one as nature could have produced.
With 7:09 to go in the fourth quarter, up one point, Mt. Lebanon grabbed a rebound and advanced the ball. Then Mt. Lebanon senior guard Mike Palmer stood with his feet on the logo and the ball at his side. The defender for Allderdice hung back at the arc. Bored teens from both sides wiped their shoes, tugged their jerseys, milled around aimlessly. Everyone involved looked listless and unwell, Palmer included. But he stayed there until Allderdice finally decided to pressure him, by which point the clock read 4:38. Probably they should have tried that a lot earlier: Palmer had stood in place for some two-and-a-half minutes.
“I said it felt like forever,” Palmer told the Post-Gazette. “It was like three minutes, but it felt like 20. But whatever you have to do to get it done.” Whatever you have to do, indeed.
“If we’re up, we’re going to do what we do,” Mt. Lebanon coach Joe David said of his perverse tactic. “There’s no reason for me to change it because I know those guys are gamers and they’re going to knock their free throws down. It’s the best way for us to win a basketball game. I didn’t plan on holding it, but if you’re going to stand there and let my guy there, I’ll be fine.” Fair enough.
Mt. Lebanon would hit a three on that same possession, extending the lead, and eventually advance, 64-58. Maybe there is glory in the coward’s path. One day we’ll see this play in one of those moody Nike commercials, the background darkened, the crowd noise dialed down to a muted roar, some tinkly piano, and a teen frozen in place, head slightly bowed as if in shame: “Just Don’t Do It.”