Disclaimer: I found the attached image at the following site: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/19/this-painting-of-george-washington-dunking-on-dictators-is-breathtaking/. This picture fit too perfectly for my drama to pass up! Kudos to painter Aaron Needham.
By Steven Dexheimer
Skip Winkendale: Hello everybody, Skip Winkendale here. Welcome to the annual Historical Five-on-Five Basketball Tournament. With me is fellow analyst—the foremost authority on historical figures and their athletic prowess—Larry Yarp. Good afternoon, Larry.
Larry Yarp: Greetings Skip, and hello everyone. This is going to prove to be an exciting game between the Philadelphia Founding Fathers and the Washington Civil Warriors. This is the first time these teams have met and there will certainly be fireworks as these two go at it head to head. Wouldn’t you agree, Skip?
Skip: I sure do. Both teams are loaded with talented and seasoned professionals. Among them are the Warriors’ center Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln and the Fathers’ center George “Pop USA” Washington. Over the years, both men have grown to become the leaders of their respective teams.
Larry: That’s right Skip, Lincoln and Washington have successfully developed their raw talent into superstar quality play.
Skip: And they really use their height to their advantage. At 6’ 2”, Washington towers over most of the league with the exception of the 6’ 4” Lincoln. Lincoln’s height of course doesn’t include his stovepipe hat that he insists on wearing on the court. (Skip and Larry laugh)
Larry (still chuckling): Yes, that’s right! He told me it was for good luck. And I must say that the chinstrap he wears to keep his hat on is really quite fashionable. (Both laugh again)
Skip: Although…others in the league are beginning to catch on to the chinstrap idea. In fact, John Adams is wearing one right now as we see him practicing free throws in front of us.
Larry: His wig won’t be going anywhere today. (Men laugh again)
Skip: All right Larry, let’s take a quick look at the rest of the starters, beginning with the Founding Fathers.
Larry: Okay Skip. As you mentioned before, Adams is working hard on his free throws. Overall, he is a decent player, and puts up better than average numbers. He is an excellent student of the game though, both in his opposition’s abilities and in the very game itself.
Skip: Yes, he does tend to have a very legalistic mind about the play of the game, and there have been some contests where he has pointed out more infractions than the referees. Perhaps he’s chosen the wrong career.
Larry: I think you’re right on that one. Although his keen mind has proven beneficial in many ways, Adams does have a tendency to become overzealous and a little obnoxious to his teammates. Next we have Patrick Henry.
Skip: Henry is clearly the spark plug, and the outspoken voice of this team. He is fiery both on and off the court.
Larry: I had the opportunity to interview Fathers’ coach Dr. Ben Franklin a few weeks ago, and the topic of Henry’s enthusiasm came up. He told me about a half time meeting during one of their recent games where Henry fired up his teammates with a rousing speech and concluded with the war cry: “Give me the basketball, or give me death!”
Skip: (laughing) He’s certainly intense about the game.
Larry: Franklin said the same thing. Although he mentioned that after the speech, Franklin cautioned his team that even though they can be that enthusiastic about their offence, to remember that “a basketball in the hand is worth two in the basket.” This philosophy has kept the Fathers’ turnover rate the lowest in the league year after year.
Skip: Sound advice from the master.
Larry: You’ve got that right.
Skip: And then there are the quieter members of the Fathers’ starting lineup, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
Larry: These two men are continually underrated because of their low profile, but they put up incredible stats. Jefferson is an all-around athlete and a virtual renaissance man. His off-season is always packed with musical and academic activities, not to mention that he’s quietly becoming one of the nation’s top snowboarders. Madison is pretty much a one-sport man, although some may wonder why he chose basketball as that one sport. Stature-wise, he is one of the smallest men in the league.
Skip: He does make up for it though by working hard and hustling in every game. He is also one of the best at sinking the three-point shot.
Larry: Overall, a very solid and consistent team. Even the bench players provide much to this team. Unquestionably the best of the group is Benedict Arnold who has the potential to be a starter, but when you already have five quality starters, where do you put him?
Skip: That’s definitely been a concern for Coach Franklin. He’s been looking for ways to give Arnold more minutes on the court. He has made the most of his time given, but in recent days, Arnold has been very vocal about his disappointment at his lack of playing time. He may demand a trade at the end of the season if things don’t change.
Larry: I know the Fathers’ will hate losing him, so look for some major dealing from the front office.
Skip: We’ve got to take a commercial break right now. When we come back, we’ll analyze the Civil Warriors’ starting five and bring you to the start of a great match-up. Don’t go away.
[Insert commercials here]
Skip: Hello and welcome back. Over the break, Larry and I were discussing the Warriors line-up and some of the flaws that could prove costly to the team if not corrected.
Larry: One of the things I feel that the Warriors struggle with is consistency. They start off a game really well, but they lose focus as the game goes on and it tends to shoot them in the foot. We mentioned Lincoln before; he is the team leader and clearly the most consistent of the starters.
Skip: Despite being as skinny as a rail…no pun intended… (Both men laugh)
Larry: (Still laughing) I’m sure it wasn’t Skip…
Skip: Anyway, despite his thin frame, he is surprisingly strong, and again, his height becomes a real advantage. He has a tremendously accurate shot and will score on average at least 25 points per game. But his real claim to fame is his patented dunk that won him last year’s slam-dunk contest.
Larry: He calls it the “Rail Splitter”—quite a suitable name for his method of hammering the ball home. For those who haven’t seen it, what Lincoln will do is leap from the free throw line with both hands on the ball. At the top of his jump, he will pull his hands and ball back and to the side as if he were swinging an ax, and then make an overhead chop down into the basket.
Skip: It’s certainly a crowd-pleaser.
Larry: That it is. Now almost as a polar opposite of Lincoln’s physical make-up is Ulysses S. Grant. Grant is short, stocky, and doesn’t really have the finesse that Lincoln has. But if you wanted a hard-working, ambitious player on your team, Grant is your man. He is not blessed with skill but he is a real bulldog on the court, especially when picking up rebounds. Grant could easily be leading the league in that category, except for the disparity in his first and second half performance. He puts up big numbers during the first two quarters, but by halftime, he completely falls apart physically and mentally. Last game, he literally passed out on the court and had to be carried off. No one really knows as yet what his condition is, but if it keeps up, he may be confined to the bench.
Skip: Warriors’ coach George McClellan tends to be a bit cautious about his player’s performance, and will pull out anyone who doesn’t look to have their “A” game.
Larry: And that’s another struggle that the Warriors have. I had a chance to stop in at a practice session a while back, and I was really impressed at how Coach McClellan ran it. He works the team hard, they go over strategies and in practice, the team looks great. But somehow “Little Mac”-that’s what his players call him-can’t seem to translate that successful practice onto the court. From what I’ve seen in past games, McClellan runs a very timid offense. The defense is much better though, and that’s what keeps the Warriors into games.
Skip: Another reason for the solid defense is the tireless work of William T. Sherman. In many ways, he is very much like Patrick Henry in stature and in spirit. Sherman is energetic, fiery, and very vocal.
Larry: I agree that he possesses much of Henry’s attitude. But Sherman has also succeeded in blending that with the tenacity that we see in Grant. What we see as a result is an excellent, and often times, intimidating player. Sherman is very single-minded when he’s on the court and he will stop at nothing to get the points for his team. His record-setting amount of fouls attests to this fact.
Skip: I think the tattoo he has on his upper right arm states his mantra quite clearly: “Basketball is all hell.”
Larry: I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it just adds to the intimidation factor.
Skip: Sherman also takes that ferocity off the court as well. He has proven to be no media darling as we have seen from some of his interviews. What was that one thing he said about the press last year?
Larry: It was something to the effect of: I could do the world a favor and kill off all the media, but there’d be news from hell by morning. (Both men laugh)
Skip: He certainly isn’t shy about his views, is he?
Larry: Not at all… (Laughs)
Skip: Now that brings us to Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. These two are remarkably skilled and work very well together. However, there has been some trouble in the past with the two getting along with the rest of the team, particularly Jackson. Coming to the Warriors as free agents last year, Lee and Jackson have had a difficult time adjusting to the playing style of Coach McClellan. There had even been talk midway through last season of the two breaking off from the Warriors and starting their own team in Richmond. After much debate, Lee and Jackson finally agreed to remain on the team, but an uneasy peace still exists.
Larry: Well, we’ll see how it all plays out today as the game will begin, following the singing of our National Anthem.
[Celine Dion comes out to sing the anthem]