Jeff Pearlman

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Why my pinky looks like a nub, by Kelli Hyjek

So they say Karma’s a bitch. But I can’t figure out what I did to deserve this one. I play basketball on the women’s team here at Manhattanville College. I haven’t spent much time in the trainer’s room, unlike most of my teammates,. This is extremely surprising, because I take more charges than anyone else on the team (not bragging—it’s fact). One time I even flipped over some girl’s back in a game.
Unfortunately our season ended earlier than expected, so now we’re just lifting and training for next year, when I’ll be a senior. This past Monday night we played pickup in Kennedy Gym on campus. I was pumped, because I love pickup. Basketball takes my mind off everything else. College is crazy between classes, hoops and work, then trying to have an actual life. It had been a long day and I was staring down a long week ahead of me. I couldn’t wait to play.

At 9:15 pm I headed to the gym with my Nike kicks in my backpack and a Rock ball in hand. We finally start playing around 9:30.  My team had the ball first and we scored immediately. A deep three-pointer from one of our guards put us up 2-0. Our next possession was a fast break.
Our point guard threw me a softball-style long pass. It came up short and took a weird bounce. I went to scoop the pass but clearly missed and the ball took out my left pinky. Yeah, I should have stepped to the ball. I know … I know. But my pinky was now crooked. It didn’t hurt—at first. Then the pain sunk in. It hurt. A lot. It didn’t help that some of the men’s players was sitting there watching and when they saw my finger they starting freaking out like pansies.

I ended up in the ER for more than two hours. I love how it’s called the emergency room, yet I waited forever for someone to just pop my finger back in place. I didn’t mind the waiting, save for the mounting pain. Obviously this wasn’t a life-threatening injury, but it still hurt. I was also scared the bone was somehow going to pop out of my skin. That would have been nasty.

Once the doctor finally popped it back into place it felt 100 times better. I knew it wasn’t broken but they made me get X-Rays. So I had to wait even longer. I was starving. I craved McDonald’s.
I never got that McDonald’s. And, to make matters worse, the doctor told me I’d be out for 6-8 weeks. Seriously? For a pinky?  That’s a joke, right? It’s not even broken. Now I have to see an orthopedist and wait to be cleared in order to work out and play ball again.  Six-to-eight weeks for a pinky?

I’m thinking three weeks—tops.

Kelli Hyjek is a junior at Manhattanville College, and a student in my journalism class. Her other nine fingers seem OK.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life