• Pick & Roll

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    Pick & Roll

    Pick and Roll is a basketball term. Here’s how it works. A guard with the basketball chased by another guard goes by a teammate – as he goes by the second guard is picked (wiped out) by the teammate, usually big, big teammate – actually sometimes flattened – then the Giant Teammate rolls to the basket getting the ball tossed to him by the initial guard. Pick and Roll. Best in the business, John Stockton – devious 6′ 1″ guard to Karl Malone 6′ 9″ block of granite. Running into Malone shortened a bunch of careers and lives and kept several orthopedic surgeons fully employed. One very good guard said that there was not enough money in his contract to be picked by Karl Malone.

    Probably the finest Pick and Roll I have ever encountered (and engineered) was with Dave Holdaway and Ben West. In the early days of my youth, I had a 1948 Cushman Motor scooter – you can’t even envision what it looked like, but lets just say it was a long, slab-sided metal canopy shell and could fit three people on without too much trouble. There was a space in front where the driver could put his feet, but the riders just hung their legs down over the sides holding on to each other. Foot pegs, surely you jest. The scooter was a born killer – hungry for the lives and limbs of teenage boys. It even looked malevolent. Pieces of iron jutting out here and there.

    Said scooter was in use during a couple of years when none of us had a driver’s license – of course it was never registered, licensed, street legal or anything like that. Just a big hunk of iron to run around town with – cost me $75 – this was in 1956.

    So, we were at another friends – Dave Shoell’s house – he had a four foot concrete retaining wall at the back of his home – there was a small gap in the wall, just about the width of the scooter. With Dave behind me, and Ben bringing up the rear, and without warning, I shot the gap – Pick and Roll – My legs were in front so I was fine, Ben bailed off the back at the last second, but Dave was forcibly picked by the wall as both extended knees whacked into the concrete – violently tossing him backward into the roll portion – sort of a pancake landing on his back.

    After turning the scooter around, I came back through the aperture to see Dave lying there, groaning, with major rips in both Levi knees – more blood than I had imagined. Once he came out of shock, boy was he pissed, but the volume and length of the filthy obscenities directed towards me – totally uncalled for. I, of course, protested I didn’t realize he’d get picked and explained to him it was mainly the unfortunate choice of seating that had done him in. He staggered, bloodied to his feet with his face masked in pain, and asked to be taken home – I still think he could have walked, but then he was generally lazy – I did feel bad and immediately offered to take him to his casa. We were about a block away from his house when my unfortunately driving habits had me take a corner too fast – a gravel road corner. You got it – over went the scooter – me semi-protected in front once again and Bloodied Dave trapped under the monster as she became one with the road. Completely ripped off one of the already torn pant legs – astonishing amount of new blood, skin, and tissue. As I remember he called me an SOB and started to crawl the rest of the way home. I protested my innocence – getting more verbal abuse and the Bird. After all I hadn’t charged a fee for the ride.
    That damned scooter had it in for my friends and I. It lurked in the background just waiting to get us. We ended up in a sewer trench one night, in a dry Murdock canal bed another and the bugger went down numerous times while trying to negotiate a 90-degree turns on the gravel roads in 1950’s Pleasant Grove, Utah. Half my friends are claiming arthritis from those spills and have even suggested they might file a class action suit. I have explained numerous times that my driving was not at fault and that the scooter was a spawn of the devil. I eventually sold it to another kid who immediately hit a car and demolished the beast – but at least I got my $75 back.

    Another nice pick and roll from those days was when our friend Gerald (Known as the Animal to one and all) tried to dislocate my left arm and shoulder. Here is what went down. We were double dating, I had dropped off my date and then had gotten back in the car – front seat – why not – that was where his date – the gorgeous blond – was demurely sitting. I put my left arm up on the seat and she kind of slid towards me a couple of inches – whoa, that was a pleasant surprise, but I knew she wasn’t that fond of the Animal anyway. I lightly put my hand on her shoulder – big, big, mistake. The Animal (who I thought was impervious to all of the goings on) reached over with his right arm (he thought he was going to caressing the blond) and ran into my left. Big trouble. He picked my arm away from Jill (unbelievable blond hair) and then rolled it violently downward. Mind blinding pain and a torn rotator cuff to this day. I tried to bring the arm back up – just to put it back in my own lap – no can do – only when he dropped off the blond bomber was I able to reposition myself. Then he came back to the car told me in no uncertain terms – here we go again – that if I ever pulled a stunt like that again he would dislodge my arm from my socket. I believed him as I walked home.

    So, I’m on my honeymoon in Bora Bora – my wife is willing to buy into one of my Ollivier schemes – which is to climb up to the main Massif in the center of the island – no trail, no guide, no preparation – no nothing. Water, food, why would we want to bring any of those items – after all its just about 3500 feet to the top through the jungle. Just bring a camera to take pictures of our assault on the mountain – had it been climbed before to the top – later on I checked – try Never.
    Anyway after starting out around nine in the morning we had beat our way (literally) through the jungle up to the base of the main volcanic crux – oops – not climbable with just the camera as a climbing aid. And we had made detours, back climbed and generally take a wide zig zag line in getting up to this point – through the cliffs. By now we are tired, covered with sweat and extremely thirsty – was the shear knife-like remains of a volcano climbable from this point – after wandering and thinking – absolutely not.

    Besides we were weary and our throats parched. Okay, we’ll just go back down the same way we came. Follow our way back through the jungle, right? Oh, Oh, after about a 100 yards I realize we left no trail through the foliage and it looked completely different anyway. We start just doing a beeline down – after all, we could see the beach 3000 feet below. Hmm, the terrain seemed to be getting steeper and steeper, until we were actually holding on the vines just to not fall vertically.

    And of course the ground is muddy from last nights rain. All of a sudden my wife lost her grip (picked by a tree) and started to slide down – I go to reach out, get picked myself by another tree and slide after her. And now the bad part, the roll part, we both roll over a 35 foot hidden cliff that we couldn’t see. Smash landing on the stones below – both unconscious for a few minutes. Me, leg crumpled, ribs separated from my sternum – whole body racked with pain. Her – blood filled one eye, elbow the size of a basket ball – bruising and pain everywhere. Serious trouble, really serious.

    With my usual stupidity, I had not told anyone at Club Med where we were going. No one would have the faintest idea that we up high on the mountain, injured and unable to move. As we laid there – sobbing – I thought about a story of a biker a few years ago who had ridden around the island and hit something that threw him off the main road and over an embankment – he was about 75 feet off the road and had broken his back when he hit. No big deal, someone would come along and find him – get him to Papeete and into the hospital. Not so. He apparently could not move, and the jungle dampens cries for help. Imagine his feelings after a day, out of water, crippled so he could not drag himself back up to the road, in tremendous pain, frustratingly close to being rescued. As time went by I’m sure he probably wished there was some way to end it – take his own life if he could. In the end they found his body, the bike, and his frantic attempts to crawl – six months later.

    I had just heard this story the night before at dinner and here we were in the same situation – absolute fear gripped me. I had to do something – here was my new bride who depended on me, who trusted me, who loved me and I had put her in a situation that could take her life – very slowly and horribly. What now to do – no water, injured, she couldn’t see out her one eye – I had lost my glasses and couldn’t see either. But we had to try something – so holding on to one another we started down. But once again it just got steeper – I figured one more fall would end it for both of us. The route we had taken was doted with steep cliffs – completely different that the way we had come up – but we had to try. Our calls for help were a joke – I had to face it, no one was going to come for us – no one knew where we were – It was the maximum terror I have ever experienced.

    By now nightfall was starting – we could hardly talk because of lack of water – and our injuries were stiffening us up. We were approaching the point where we couldn’t move. I finally found an overhanging rock where a drop of water dripped every 10 seconds. I tried to get my head under it, but that didn’t work, so I ripped the camera case apart and started catching the water – the dye from the case tainted the water and it was a foam insert – so we had to suck the water we caught – about a mouthful of dark liquid every half hour – we trapped water for eight long hours that night just to get where we were not so parched.

    But here we were, so injured we had trouble even talking to one another – I had put some limb cross braces in front of us to keep us from further sliding down. What would happen – would we just die there on that slippery ledge? The sounds of the jungle around us – I had the sensation that something was out there – twigs would snap and I could sense movement – was it a large animal – a snake – what was it – it just added to the terror of our situation. Even the smallest sound would make me twitch.

    We held each other the best we could – I cried and apologized and begged forgiveness for putting her in this horrible situation. I could not see a way out – we would just have to try to crawl down in the morning without falling again. Chances of living or making it down – very small.

    But then, for some reason, I believe that God, in his infinite mercy, decided that we needed some help. We had met a couple the night before at dinner – very nice people. We were going to meet them the next night for dinner again – when we didn’t show up, they became concerned – went to the Club Med management and told them we were missing. The response was, “Hey, they are just out drinking or gone camping or something”. But our friends were concerned and finally decided to drive around the island looking for us at midnight. That was the kind of people they were. Anyway they started at midnight and would drive 500 yards of so and then yell our names – around 1:00 AM I heard them, ever so faintly.

    We yelled back with all our might – and, miracles of miracles, they heard us. We were saved – they called up that they would go organize a rescue party – then came back in about an hour to say that it was too dangerous, and could we make it through the night. That next seven hours was lived total fear. Did I just dream that they yelled and said someone would come in the morning, would they even be able to find us – the jungle was so thick.
    After a sleepless extremely painful night we could hear shouts about 7:30 – we would shout back – relief flooded through me as I realized we were going to be found. After about three hours two natives from Bora Bora showed up – wearing of course – flip-flops. They had water and we almost bowed down to worship them – we were so grateful for our lives.

    Then a helicopter showed up above us. Found out later the management at Club Med had gotten into the safe and hired a copter for $4000 with my AMEX card. They let down a rope but the angle was so steep we would have crashed into the mountain side – and anyway it was just a rope – no harness or anything. Later we found they had a Doctor on board – but he apparently said there were too fools down there, didn’t need to be a third, so he declined to come down the rope.

    The Bora Borans lowered us and held us and eventually got us down the mountain – took about five hours. Went immediately to the small clinic and since we had hired the helicopter anyway, they flew us to Papeete Hospital where we got some minor treatment – Tylenol was the strongest pain-killer – everyone stood all together in the X-ray room. Took a couple of months to slowly recover from the injuries – we were lucky we got away with our lives. I thought about that horrible night many times since then – picked and rolled by the scooter, the Animal trying to pick off my arm, even running into Karl Malone with the resultant injuries. I’d take them all rather than than a Pick and Roll On Bora Bora.

    November 2012

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