By Ed Fulginiti
Washington, DC – After losing seven of eight games to the Members of Congress, lobbyist Paul Miller, co-founder of the charity basketball game, decided on a new strategy which paid off with Miller’s team winning for only the second time in nine years, 45-36.
Because the Congressmen played zone defense, less strenuous than man to man, Miller’s game plan was to win or lose on long-range three point shooting against the zone, to, as the saying goes, “live by the three or die by the three.
Miller told the oldest player on either team, Jim Martin, 71, to take the first three point shot. Martin made it and after the Congressmen missed their first shot, Martin ran down court to drain another three-pointer. When the Congressmen missed again they double teamed Martin who passed to teammate Danny Leonard who buried his three. Now down 9-0, celebrity coach John Thompson III, who took Georgetown University to the Final Four this year, called time and told the Congressmen “get out of the zone defense before the old guy kills you.”
When they switched to man-to-man, Martin signaled to his celebrity coach, Karl Hobbs, to pull him from the game because, Martin said, “these legs can’t run in the faster paced man-to-man defense.” Hobbs is George Washington University’s coach and the charity game is played each year at GW.
The ninth annual Hoops For Hope All-Star Classic has raised over $300,000 for childrens’ charities like Horton’s Kids, the Luke Tiahrt Fund and St. Anthony’s Scholarship Fund.
Republicans and Democrats played together on the Members team. The game was co-founded by Miller, former president of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL), former Republican Congressman Jack Quinn of New York and Democratic Congressman Tom Barrett of Wisconsin. The stars for the Members were Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).
After the game, several members of Congress touted Martin for MVP honors. A remark heard often was that “after you made two straight three pointers, that took us out of our zone defense and set the tone for the game. The third three pointer put us down 9-0 and we lost by that exact margin.” Martin said that in practice leading up to the game he was trying to shoot “at least 50 threes but after Paul told me I was to take the first shot, I went to the gym every day and increased my output to 100 three pointers. I sure didn’t want to fail. It paid off.”
Following are some quotes from a couple of Martin’s teammates.
Jameson Booth: “Great shooting! We went up 9-0, in large part thanks to Jim — and we never looked back. Now that’s the way to start a game!”
Andy Blocker: “Ditto. Jim “Free for the Three” Martin. It’s good to win!”
Danny Leonard: “The answer is that we need to find Jim “make a three look like a lay-up” Martin’s long lost twin and have one in each game!” (Leonard referred to the first game of the evening between lobbyists and Congressional assistants won by the assistants, 66-55.)
Attached are two photos showing Martin well behind the three-point line. Martin is President of the 60 Plus Association, a senior citizen organization with 4.5 million supporters nationwide.