Mister Blackwood*

 Coach Tom Blackwood and arch-rival Rob Collins battling it out at Acalanes High School on some Friday night in the 90s

Coach Tom Blackwood and arch-rival Rob Collins battling it out at Acalanes High School on some Friday night in the 90s

Mister Blackwood*

Piece of work, we used to call ‘em

That kid’s a real piece of work

And so were we

You, Crazy Tommy

Roger Durant calling you that, telling me stories from the 70s

You were a piece of work

But for all who saw you scream

So few saw the art

I nearly missed it too

TJB CAT, another original Minnesotan

Basketball coach, history teacher, father

Husband, ex-husband

Letter of recommendation writer for us all

You’re a piece of artwork

And now that you’re gone, nearly two decades into a strange century

It’s all too concise and too clear

The world you’ve left will not produce another you

It’s hard to imagine you escaped the 90s intact

To call you a character understates, overstates, underwhelms

You were a Picasso, born of Norman Rockwell and Bob Knight

You were better than Bobby Knight, better than Frank Allocco

Better at being human

For all your autocratic leanings you were a softie

My parents let me choose my own religion

I chose basketball

The gym, that gym, became my church

You were my father

You made life feel like Hoosiers

Those sweaters

Those snarls

Rare and cherished Cheshire smiles

Your voice bellowing throughout greater Martinez

“TWENTY!!!”

“ARRRRRCH!”

“BRONCO!!!!”

“JESUS CHRIST, JOSH TRIBE WILL YA STOP FREAKIN’ POUTING — GO RUN LIBERTY!”

Thank you, Mr. Blackwood

For Olympic Drill at summer camp

For hauling us to Chico, Healdsburg, Carmel

For making me drive you home when I was less drunk than you

For teaching me how to love video poker

For the two-foot power layup

For inspiring me to attempt to perfect the elbow jump shot

Thank you Coach, for never contorting or conforming

Thank you for letting me pay you back

For allowing me to redeem my adolescent ingratitude

For letting me scream at you

“PUT IN KJ!”

“IT’S TIME FOR THE PRESS”

“FORGET TWENTY, WE GOTTA GO MAN!!!!”

Thank you for trusting me to coach Justin

Thank you for sending me out of history class to put new nets on the rims

For those magical no-look bounce passes you used to throw in practice

Thank you for always having my back

I should have wrote this before you died

I’m sorry

I love you

Your movie’s over

It’s official now, you’re a classic

Andy Read: “No one ever said Jesus Christ better than he did.”

It’s true, and it counts

Flags half-mast in Minnesota

And Miramonte 

One-Two-Three… TOGETHER

*By one of the proud, the many, worst point guards in Miramonte history