Softening the Attack

There’s a lot of memories I still hold dear in my life.  A lot of good moments, a lot of special events.  And when things end, when you find out that they’re done and over… it does affect me.  It might be things or events or locations or people that I haven’t thought about in ages…

Case in point.

I was reading ESPN this morning, and caught some news regarding Michael Jordan’s investment in a fitness center / gymnasium in Chicago’s West Side neighborhood.  The gym, known as Attack Athletics, was built in 2007 by Tim Grover, Jordan’s friend.  The facilities were used by such NBA superstars as Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, who could use any of its four NBA-sized courts, its spacious weight-training facilities, or its private entertainment center in the back of the building.

Today, Attack Athletics is in foreclosure, and Jordan could lose as much as $1.5 million in the bankruptcy.  Okay, yeah, Jordan could probably find $1.5 million in his couch cushions…

Personally, I remember Attack Athletics for a different reason.  And it has nothing to do with Michael Jordan.

For the first two years of my involvement with the Premier Basketball League, I had the opportunity to photograph PBL games at that venue.  Here’s a small photo set from one of those games, in which the Chicago Throwbacks played the Detroit Panthers.

The first time I photographed at Attack Athletics, it was during the 2007-08 PBL season.  That year, ten teams made the playoffs, and the teams seeded #3 through #10 would play in a two-day single-elimination tournament at Attack Athletics.  I did get some excellent photographs – of course, back then it was with my old Nikon D70 – but the fact that I could climb up on the bleachers or shoot down low from the floor gave me plenty of photographic angles to choose.

I should also note that there was a small Albany Patroons connection in the PBL that season – Donnie Boyce, who played with the Pats during the 2005-06 season, was the head coach of the Chicago Throwbacks team.  He would later move on to the D-League and coach the Reno Bighorns.  But enough of that.

I returned to Attack Athletics for a game during the 2008-09 season.  My original plan was to photograph the Detroit Panthers and the Chicago Throwbacks when they came up to Canada.  But when the Montreal team suddenly went belly-up in the middle of the season, I checked the schedule for alternative dates for those teams to visit.

And there really weren’t any that fit into my travel plans.

Eventually I made arrangements to fly back to Chicago and photograph the game in the above slideshow.  The game didn’t start on time; apparently Attack Athletics was booked for a youth tournament, and the Panthers-Throwbacks game was pushed back half an hour.  Then an hour.  Finally, ninety minutes behind schedule, there was a tipoff.

I photographed the first half of the game, then I had to excuse myself and get to Midway Airport for the last flight back to Albany.  Apparently I missed an overtime thriller of a game.  Well, what am I going to do, tell Southwest to wait on the tarmac for me until the game ends and I battle Chicago traffic to get to the airport?  Yeah, like that will work.

The Throwbacks ceased operations after the 2008-09 season.  A different Chicago-based team, the Chicago Muscle, suited up for the 2011-12 campaign, but they never played at Attack Athletics (their home games were either played 40 miles away in Palatine, Illinois, or 200 miles away in some place called Wisconsin Dells).

Even though I’m not with the PBL any more, I still remember the Attack Athletics and how much I enjoyed photographing basketball games there.

Just another place gone… and I need to move on.