Can Johnny Score?

The link posted below took me back…with a smile, an experience that extols the why not’s of life.  Come back with me, circa in the ‘80’s—that’s the 1980’s for the cynics.

I was into being a basketball coach…for my son Andrew’s YMCA Saturday morning team.  [Sigh, in those days, not even soccer was played at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings.]  There were rules, which I applauded—the primary of which every player has to play two quarters in each game.  The teams weren’t the result of a high-computerized-scouting report by parents or the coach.  Nope.  It was based upon grabbing names from a long list, with no earthly or divinely-inspired idea of the selection’s ability.

Johnny didn’t sign up.  His father did it for him.  And from the first moment it was clear—Johnny didn’t want to be there.  And as for ability, dearth was the best description.  That meant the basics which included dribbling the basketball, passing it, what to do when you received a pass…and do your best to not convert a basketball into a football—all were absent for Johnny.

What I liked, really appreciated, about Johnny…he never complained, he never asked to play more but he also never pleaded to clap and cheer and never enter the game.  He knew he would play two quarters.

When I talked with his father—who didn’t seem like a tyrannical pushy father—he asked, “All Johnny wants, now that he’s played in a couple of games, and he’s starting to like basketball, is to score one basket.  For him scoring a basket will be his personal championship.”

I got it.  The other players got it…our primary goal was a basket for Johnny.

Had to remember these kids were 4th graders, none of whom knew what NBA stood for.  They enjoyed playing and their coach never scolded—that was the first commandment—always look for the good and never spell wine with an “h.”

To make it simple we had plays that were identified with a number.  That meant only one player was attached to that number and when it was called, he would end up shooting the basketball.

Okay, so far.  For Johnny he was number one.  Week after week we practiced #1.  In practice, even without any players defending against him, Johnny still barely managed to dribble.

Last game.  Oh boy, Johnny still needed his basket, his moment to score.

Don’t remember the running clock time for each quarter…maybe 6 minutes.  Remember these were 4th graders, so who’s keeping time?

I knew the last quarter would be “it.”  The one goal, every time we had the ball, the play was “#1.”

The end was near; the goal was unachieved.


In an incredible moment, Johnny got free, stood alone near the basket.  Caught the ball.  Took two dribbles better than he’d never dribbled before…and didn’t shoot the ball.  He heaved it.  And just before the timer’s whistle ended the game—time stopped.

The ball hung in the air.  Every player froze in place.  Johnny looked up at the backboard.  The ball hit the sweet spot on the backboard that would only let the ball go through the basket.

And it did!


We went crazy.  And Johnny’s smile.  I will never forget it.  Johnny raised his hands.  A winner!  The players lifted him on their shoulders.  Johnny scored.  Yes!

I thought of that this morning.  The link below brought back that joyous moment.

Take a moment…look at the newscast video.  It’s about another Johnny.

But more.

It’s about how we are not the most important…especially when we consider life to be only for us.  It’s about some kids who make a decision.  And their Johnny scores.


So do they.

So do they.



About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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