Issue 144: A little classic “awww” to warm up the holidays

This issue of Crisp Bounce Pass comes thanks to longtime reader Craig Leener (who also happens to be the author of the great Zeke Archer young adult basketball trilogy).

I had seen Jason McElwain’s story before, but it’s a fantastic one, so let’s give it some more love to truly embrace that warm, fuzzy, holiday spirit.

Let’s hop back to 2006. Jason is an autistic basketball player. He loves him some hoops, and the varsity team of the Greece Athena High School (in New York, not actual Greece) invites him to serve as manager. He hangs out with the players and shoots around during practice, but never makes it onto the court during a game.

Before the final home game of his senior year, Jason’s coach Jim Johnson has a message for him: “I’ma get you in this game.

All of Jason’s family comes into the stands. Most of the school is there, too. It’s certainly a larger crowd than any of my high school games, so the nerves are PALPABLE.

With four minutes left, Jason gets the call. He’s going into the game.

Jason’s first shot goes up and…it’s an airball. Here’s the difference between him and me, though. After I shoot an airball, I do one of two things (and often both):

I congratulate the person guarding me for making a nice block. They know I’m full of it, but they’ll usually kind of just quietly say “o…kay” and everyone else is none the wiser.

I also try to avoid shooting for the rest of the game. I can make up for it in other ways! I foolishly think to myself. Then the buzzer sounds and I’ve got nothing to show for it.

But Jason? When he shoots an airball, he just gets more FOCUSED.

Check out the scene unfold below or right here.

By the time the final buzzer rings through the gym, the team has Jason hoisted up on their shoulders, parading him around like a rock star.

This whole story also encouraged other high school teams to do similar things, and other autistic students got a chance to shine in the limelight.

Just delightful. Thanks, Craig, for reintroducing this clip into my life.

Since graduating, Jason has accomplished quite a bit. He authored a book, had a movie come out about his story, coached teams, and even played professional basketball with the Rochester RazorSharks (which have since rebranded to the Fast Break Fury, a far inferior but I suppose slightly friendlier name). Keep it up, Jason!

Also, this will be the last Crisp Bounce Pass email of the year! I’m taking a break for the holidays (or the holiyays, depending on how festive you are) and hope you get some relaxing in, too.

If you want *CUE SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION* I wrote a book that you can get by clicking right here, look how easy it is!.

The ebook is currently on sale for 99 cents. That’s, like…1/5000th the price of a LeBron James rookie card. What an investment.

In the meantime, keep being wonderful to each other.