I didn’t exactly know what I would be asked to do while I was in Tucson for the team’s public scrimmage Saturday night. But I never would have guessed it would involve driving a legend around town or playing a role in the game itself.

Boris Diaw dunks the ball during Saturday night’s scrimmage. 

(NBAE Photos)

The team hotel is about 25 minutes away from the McKale Center,
so a number of the employees have been carpooling back and forth all week. But to my surprise, I was asked to give Al McCoy a lift to the game.

As you may remember from a previous blog post, Al is one of the first people
who comes to mind when I think of Phoenix Suns
basketball, so you can imagine how thrilled and honored I was to share a ride
with the Voice. We didn’t really discuss anything important on the way.Just normal things like his kids, my kids, where
we live, the Diamondbacks (Congrats, D-Backs!) and the ASU game. But to be discussing normal things with Al
McCoy in my car was a surreal experience to say the least.

At the game, I was planning on keeping statistics for
another blog post I am working on. But as
seems to happen a lot at this job, my plans changed quickly when I heard the
scorer’s table needed someone to run the 24-second shot clock.Obviously, this isn’t something I have ever
done before, nor is it something I ever thought I would get the chance to do –
even if it was only for a Suns vs. Suns scrimmage.

“How hard can it be to run the shot clock,” I asked myself.
“Everyone knows how to do that. You just restart it every time the ball hits
the rim!” Little did I know that was just the beginning of the job. Now I’m not
here to say that running the shot clock is rocket science, but it does take a
lot more concentration than I realized.
And in a real-game situation, where an extra second means a possible
extra shot, I’ve got to think it can be a little stressful.

For instance, without looking at the rulebook (it’s
obviously all outlined there but I didn’t have that luxury at the time), try to
answer the following questions that came up during the scrimmage:

  1. When a
    basket is made, when do you reset the shot clock: after the ball goes
    through the hoop, when the player who is passing it inbounds touches the
    ball or when the player who is inbounds catches the ball?
  2. When a
    player shoots and misses, and there is a scuffle for the ball, when do you
    reset the shot clock: at the point
    the ball hits the rim or when someone finally gets possession of the ball?
  3. If a
    player shoots a ball and it circles the rim a couple of times, when do you
    reset the shot clock: at the point
    the ball touches the rim or at the point it falls off the rim?
  4. Does
    the clock get reset to 14 seconds anytime the ball goes out of bounds and
    there is less than 14 seconds on the clock? If not, what are the situations in which it does get reset?
  5. What happens on a jump ball?

Sitting here calmly at my computer, I’m able to come up with what I think are fairly good answers.
But at the time when I had sweaty palms and was worried one of the assistant coaches or players was going to come storming over to me complaining that I wasn’t doing the shot clock correctly the above questions were swirling around my head without any real answers. (The answers, as far as I understand them now, are at the bottom of this blog post.)

Thankfully, everyone at the scorer’s table was really great about the whole thing. I had about three
minutes to learn how to run the machine before the game started and then we were off! The guy running the game clock (I asked his name twice, but now can’t remember it again) was really, really great. He was patient with me as I learned the ropes during the first quarter and would prompt me to reset it if I forgot.

You’re probably asking yourself, “How in the world could he forget to reset the clock?” Well, when
you’re a huge fan, it’s easy to get caught up in the game and forget what your role is at said game. Luckily, by the middle of the second quarter I got the hang of watching and enjoying the game while still performing my shot clock duties.

The lead referee was also very helpful. He came over to me after the first quarter and told me I was doing a good job. Then he pointed out that it was better to be slow on the trigger rather than quick (something the game clock guy was also trying to drill into my head). In his words, “In this case, it’s better to
give them 26 seconds as opposed to 20 seconds.” But never once did I feel like
they were wondering why they ever asked me to help.

If you’ve ever listened to Al during his post-game wrap-up, you know he always spends three or four minutes breaking down the key statistics. It usually sounds something like, “Steve Nash had 15 points and 9 assists tonight. Shawn Marion had a very good shooting game – hitting 14-of-18 and scoring 30 points. And Brian Skinner and Sean Marks each had 11 rebounds to help the Suns win 97 to 91 tonight.” Well, on our way back to the hotel, I got my own personal post-game show, as Al offered his expert analysis to his audience
of one. It was exactly like taking Al McCoy out of my car speakers and buckling him into the passenger seat of my car!

After I dropped Al off at the hotel and headed to my room, I called my wife and told her I was glad it was dark in the car, because I had grin from ear to ear the entire way back. It was quite a night.

By the way, the answers to the questions above (if I understand them correctly) are:

  1. When the player who is inbounds touches the ball.
  2. When someone finally gets possession of the ball.
  3. At the point it falls off of the rim.
  4. There are specific points when the ball can be reset to 14 seconds: (a)
    Personal foul by the defense where ball is being in-bounded in frontcourt,
    (b) Defensive three-second violation,(c) Technical fouls and/or
    delay-of-game warnings on the defensive team, (d) Kicked or punched ball
    by the defensive team with the ball being inbounded in the offensive
    team’s front-court, (e) Infection control, (f) Jump balls retained by the
    offensive team as the result of a held ball caused by the defense, (g) All
    flagrant and punching fouls.
  5. The shot
    clock is reset to 14 if the defense causes the jump ball (a held ball by
    both teams) and the offensive team retains the ball on the jump. Otherwise, it is reset to 24.
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