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Simmons Says - Saying so long to No. 23

Some Facebook notifications are ones you wish you’d never seen.

Sitting around Saturday, I was saddened when I read the update in the Class of 2004 page that our classmate Reese Bishop had passed. It’s still not sitting any better.

Since coming back from college, I haven’t seen Reese a lot. When I did, our conversations always seemed to drift toward what brought us together in the first place – basketball. 

I met Reese when I was in eighth grade. He was the first guy who I met who had a bigger passion for basketball than I did. He lived and breathed basketball, never wanting to relent at any time. We couldn’t be more opposite on the court – me a plodding post and him a lightning-fast guard – but we both loved the game.

We once played 1-on-1 in eighth grade, after Reese had beaten everybody else and was in search of a clean sweep of the entire roster. Somehow, I beat him on a long 3-pointer that I’m pretty sure banked in. I wouldn’t know – my eyes were closed in prayer.

He repaid the favor 100s of times. I made the mistake of hitting a miracle shot against the most competitive person I’ve met. And he let me know about it every time we played.

We were teammates for two years – in eighth grade and as freshmen. His career was always going to run longer than mine, and we both knew it. When we were freshmen, I vividly remember watching from the bench when Reese broke his wrist.

In typical Reese fashion, he sprinted to the bench with his shooting hand hanging limp. He wanted a quick tape so he could go back in and play. Two weeks later – in a cast – he skunked me using only his right hand.

I watched from the stands the next three seasons as he went on to score 1,000 points. Every so often, I’d see him at one of my Jaycees games. He was 10 times the player I ever would be, but he was never arrogant about it to me.

Later in life, we would match up at the Civic Center. Three buddies and I would be on the court, fighting to stay alive for as long as possible. Reese would walk in and people would start to quake. During the grind, I’d hear him start talking.

“Uhho – we got the Spurs out here doing things.”

He called us the Spurs because we weren’t great athletes or exciting players, but we knew how to play. Reese would assemble his crew and we’d be off the court shortly after.

If we were the Spurs, he was LeBron. We had our time and he was ready to take over the court.

Looking back, I’m just glad we had our time.