Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Fan Fest, Part 2

The next few stations that we visited allowed you to compare your own physical measurements to those of the basketball "freaks" — I mean that with all kindness but look at the difference between Johnny with a wingspan of about 4' 9" and Shaquille O'Neal at 7' 7" — almost a 3-foot difference. Granted that my little buddy is not fully-grown but WOW!

Next up is hand size. It is hard to imagine someone having a hand that big — Shaq, you are impressive in physical size as well as basketball ability.

And here we can compare the size of basketball feet...

... and the shoes required for those feet. Size 22?!!! Unbelievable.

I really enjoyed some of the artwork on display on the walls. Here a photographic mural showing baseball great Lew Alcindor (who later converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

He stood 7' 2" and was known for his skyhook shots. In high school, his team won 71 consecutive games. He enrolled at UCLA and those teams won three straight NCAA Championships with Alcindor winning the MVP Award all three years.

He was drafted number 1 in the NBA Draft and went on to a stellar career with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The next photographic mural featured Larry Bird who starred at Indiana State University. They played Michigan State University for the NCAA Championship but lost — Bird had an off-night. Of course part of that was due to MSU's star player, Magic Johnson.

BTW, that game achieved the highest ever television rating for a college basketball game — due, in large part, to the two marquee players, Bird and Johnson. Their rivalry continued into the NBA — Bird with the Boston Celtics and Johnson with the Los Angeles Lakers.

And here was an autograph station where young fans could obtain autographs from their favorite players. The star is Gary Payton who played for Oregon State University and later with the former Seattle Supersonics. He was also known as "The Glove" for his excellent defensive ability.

Back to sport — here is a court where guys could fantasize about what could have been.

The next stop was quite intriguing — Allstate Insurance sponsored a "driveway match-up" between players and two tubular, air-filled Mayhem defenders. I am sure that you have seen this type of advertising figure which waves back and forth almost like a 3-D flag. I watched a number of players try to sink a basket but these Mayhem defenders made it very difficult.

Next door, this driveway featured a set of three baskets mounted on a rotating backboard, guarded by a 2-D player who moved forward and back. This required the player to anticipate when the basket would be at the 12:00 position and time the shot to arrive at that instant. Also quite a challenge.

Another "not-basketball" challenge — rock climbing. This girl was pretty good. I asked Johnny if he would like to try it but he said, "No thanks".

Here was the last of the "be a star" challenges. Each participant was thrown a basketball with two seconds on the clock (middle right side). He or she needed to get the shot off before the clock counted down to zero and sink the basket to win the game as time expired. Pressure! Easier said than done.

Our last stop for the evening was the Managers Basketball Tournament. The players were the managers from two college basketball programs. I assume these were guys who love the game but who were not big enough and good enough to play varsity basketball — so they took the role of "manager" to stay close to the game they love. It was fun to watch.

Although I was not originally that enthusiastic about Fan Fest (basketball is not really my game), I really enjoyed both being there and sharing with Johnny. He seemed to enjoy it even though he was too shy to try any of the participatory activities.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com