Sunday, February 17, 2013

A True Basketball Star

Over the past few days sports talk radio has been inundated with stories and memories of Michael Jordan. Evidently he turns 50 today. Yippee. Plus, the National Basketball Association’s All-Star game is being played this evening. Because I couldn’t care less about either of these events, I decided to bring out a classic from the Koos Vault and honor a true basketball star from Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

You guessed it – the name of this local legend is none other than that crusty Kraut, the iconic Arno Schubert.

Although this man never played in the NBA and technically was never an All-star, he certainly deserves to be acknowledged for his contributions to the game of basketball.

In order to pay homage to this phenom, I would like to share with you one of the many stories that have been written chronicling his greatness. It was originally posted January 10, 2010.

On a cold Saturday afternoon in January of 1977, Kenosha Tap’s basketball team took to the court at Bullen Jr. High School. Led by player-coach Kurt Plaisted, the squad was warming up for their 1:00 pm City League tilt with the Jubilee Lounge. As fans began to fill the bleachers, Plaisted nervously watched the locker room door as he tossed in a long practice shot.

All of Kenosha Tap’s players were present and accounted for, except for the special secret weapon that Plaisted had counting on. It was almost game time and he was beginning to become anxious.

Suddenly Plaisted’s anticipation disappeared.

With a thundering bang, the door from the locker room burst open and a loud cry of “Let’s kick some ass you sons-of-bitches” was heard throughout the large gymnasium. Dressed in a torn t-shirt and dirty sweatpants, Plaisted’s special secret weapon had arrived.

With a predominantly toothless grin, Arno Schubert clumsily dribbled a basketball as he took the court amid boisterous cheers, mixed with a few chuckles from the astonished crowd. A relieved Plaisted tossed a scarlet Kenosha Tap jersey to Arno and said, “Here, get this on and put out that cigarette.”

Arno tossed the butt to the hardwood floor and ground it out with his well-worn Chuck Taylor sneakers. As he attempted to tug the jersey over his large head, it was obviously a size too small, causing it to fit the hung-over German like O.J. Simpson’s glove.

With the game ready to begin, Plaisted gathered his team into a small huddle. “Okay guys, the starters are Cliff, Stan, Harry, Gino and Hall. The rest of you be ready!” No sooner had Plaisted stopped speaking, Arno blurted out, “What the (expletive deleted) Kurt! I ain’t starting?!?”

Plaisted smiled at his special secret weapon and said, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” Arno, cursing under his breath, sat down on the bench and shot a dirty look at Plaisted. If looks could have killed…

The referee tossed the ball into the air and the game between Kenosha Tap and Jubilee Lounge was under way. The contest was a typical City League basketball game and the score went back and forth. It was also a very physical game, with the players needing frequent rests.

Every time Plaisted would put in a substitute, Arno would jump up and beg to be put in the game. Each time, the response was the same, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” Arno would return to the bench and curse at his coach a bit louder.

At halftime, the game was tied and Plaisted told his crew to hang tough. He then, much to Arno’s chagrin, announced that the guys who started the game would start the second half as well. 

Knowing what was coming, he turned to the disgruntled German and said, “Not yet Arno, not yet.” This time Arno didn’t even bother cursing; he just waved his hand at his coach and went to the far end of the bench.

The second half was a different story, with Kenosha Tap pulling out to an early lead. Before long, the margin had grown so large that Plaisted knew what he had to do. With the game seemingly in hand, he stood up smirking, winked at the crowd and shouted out, “Now Arno, now!”

The special secret weapon was about to be unleashed.

Arno sprang to his feet, almost falling as he pulled off his grimy sweatpants. Initially the crowd roared its’ approval and then broke into laughter when Arno finally succeeded in getting his sweatpants off, revealing shorts that were only slightly larger than a pair of Speedos.

What ensued was not for the faint of heart.

The special secret weapon went on a vicious rampage and nobody was going to stop him. His elbows were flying, knocking opponents out of the way. He threw up high-arching hook shots that came nowhere near the backboard, let alone the basket.

He dove for every loose ball and challenged his opponents for every rebound. At one point he leapt high for a rebound, curling both legs underneath himself. It was a thing of beauty. The only problem was that he forgot to straighten his legs out and crashed to the hard wooden court, landing on his boney knees. The fans gasped, shuddered and cringed before beginning to giggle.

It should be noted that this all took place in a span of about 5 minutes.

As the beer-guzzling, chain-smoking man from Germany attempted to get up, he looked to the bench and beckoned to Plaisted to take him out, he had had enough. Plaisted broke into a wide grin and replied, “Not yet Arno, not yet.”

For the next 10 minutes, the feisty Kraut struggled up and down the court, his weather-beaten face growing redder each step he took. Every time there was a stoppage of play he would plead to be taken out of the game. Each time, Plaisted’s response was the same, “Not yet Arno, not yet.”

Almost mercifully, with 2 minutes left in the game, Jubilee Lounge took a timeout. A crimson-faced Arno hobbled over to the bench and glared at his coach. Plaisted, fighting back laughter, decided to give in and said, “Okay, Arno, you can sit down now.”

But Arno did not sit down. Instead he kept staggering down the sideline, wheezing and gasping for breath every shaky step of the way. There was a hush over the crowd; all eyes were now on Arno as he continued his unsteady journey toward the corner of the court.

Ultimately he disappeared behind the bleachers in the southwest corner of Bullen Jr. High’s gymnasium. Fans, players and officials stared at each other, questioning what had become of Arno, the special secret weapon.

The powerful retching noise that was emitted quickly answered everyone’s question.

After he finished regurgitating, he finally came back toward the bench. With tears streaming down his face, he wiped the remnants from his mouth and said, “Thanks you dirty rotten (expletive deleted).” He then took a seat on the bench and quietly watched Kenosha Tap seal its’ victory over Jubilee Lounge.

Okay, today is Michael Jordan’s birthday and the NBA All-Star game is being played. Whoopee. I just hope that you enjoyed my tribute to this true basketball star. If you would like to read more tales about Arno Schubert click on either Arno or Schubert in the Label section below the blog.

Until next time…from the booth.

2 comments:

Sue said...

Ha ha - Arno would be no match for Michael Jordan. Is there no end to Arno's 'talents' ? ha ha

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

I don't think so, Sue. :~)