What will "new neutral" rate be?
Every year, March Madness reminds me of my own storied basketball career – with more emphasis on stories than a career I will admit, but what else would you expect from a 6 foot tall white guy whose best assets were that he could jump higher than most and whose legs looked good in short shorts. I did start as point guard on a championship team for three years running, but what I remember most was not a last second buzzer beater but the foxy cheerleaders yelling “Bill, Bill, he’s our man – if he can’t do it no one can.” Their cheers however went silent outside of the gym. They never seemed to say hi in the halls which I found somewhat confusing but nevertheless precedent setting as I transitioned into college at Duke.
Being somewhat of a high school star, I decided to try out for the taxi squad on the freshman team. Duke that year was well stacked with three future All Americans and NBA players but they needed some competition in practice and I was a prospective servant for the greater cause – not Duke – but my chance to show off and eventually get a girl into the backseat of a car for the first time in my life. Neither came to pass as I was cut during the first tryout session and cut frequently as well on second and third dates in parking lots behind the sorority houses.
I found my chance to get even though, when 35 years later I came back to my alma mater on a philanthropic mission and was picked up at the airport by none other than Bucky Waters, the freshman coach who had so coldly and heartlessly cut me from the team. Recognizing Bucky but he not recognizing me I said, “Nice to see you again Buck.” “Did we ever meet?” he asked optimistically in hopes for a close personal connection and a bigger check. Once I said, “In 1962, the day you cut me from the freshman taxi squad.” “Ohooooo I’m so sorry”, he said. “I’m sorry too Buck”, I responded: “that’ll cost the university a few bucks!” We laughed and have been friends ever since.
But that’s not the end of my storied basketball career at Duke. Twelve years ago I attended a summer basketball camp for middle-aged guys at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the site of my humbling yet undeserved dismissal nearly forty years before. The one and only Coach K headed the three-day session and began with an inspirational talk followed by a friendly admonition to have fun, concluding by saying that no one who ever attended the camp for the past 15 years had ever gone home without making a basket. Never that is until Bill Gross signed up. Why my teammates never passed to me I’ll never know – perhaps it was my frequent air balls or the constant turnovers – go figure – but I remember during the last game Coach K called a special play – sort of like the one for that little runt Rudy, who was on the taxi squad for Notre Dame, in the movie. Coach even told the other team to sort of give me a wide berth to the hoop to keep the streak alive. Thirty seconds to go, I got the ball, my great looking legs now covered up by modern day shorts to the knee; lacking any youthful bounce that as a teenager could dunk a basketball; not hearing any sort of encouragement from foxy cheerleaders screaming my name from the sidelines; nevertheless, I dribbled the ball confidently to the hoop with no one in my way – I went up for the gimme layup – it rolled in and around and out. The streak had been broken. “That’ll cost you a few bucks, Coach K”, I disgustedly said as we shook hands after the buzzer. We laughed and commiserated about my unique contribution to Duke Basketball.
Like I said, a storied career – full of stories but void of points not only in the parking lot of the Alpha Phi sorority but on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium.