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I grew up in Montana, a state where high school basketball was a thing as strong as family or work, and Jonathan Takes Enemy, a member of the Crow (Apsáalooke) Nation was the best basketball player in the state. He led Hardin High, a school with years of losing tradition, into the state spotlight, carrying the team and the community on his shoulders all the way to the state tournament where he averaged 41 points per game. He created legends that decades later are still spoken of in state basketball circles, and he did so with a fierceness that made me both fear and respect him. On the court, nothing was outside the realm of his skill: the jumpshot, the drive, the sweeping left-handed finger roll, the deep fade-away jumper. He could deliver what we all dreamed of, and with a venom that said don’t get in my way.

I was a year younger than Jonathan, playing for an all-white school in Livingston when our teams met in the divisional tournament and he and the Hardin Bulldogs delivered us a crushing 17-point defeat. At the close of the third quarter with the clock winding down and his team with a comfortable lead, Takes Enemy pulled up from one step in front of half-court and shot a straight, clean jumpshot. Though the range of it was more than 20 feet beyond the three-point line, his form remained pure. The audacity and power of it, the exquisite beauty, hushed the crowd. A common knowledge came to everyone: few people can even throw a basketball that far with any accuracy, let alone take a real shot with good form. Takes Enemy landed and as the ball was in midair he turned, no longer watching the flight of the ball, and began to walk back toward his team bench. The buzzer sounded, he put his fist in the air, the shot swished into the net. The crowd erupted.

In his will even to take such a shot, let alone make it, I was reminded of the surety and brilliance of so many Native American heroes in Montana who had painted the basketball landscape of my boyhood.  Marty Round Face and Tim Falls Down and Max Spotted Bear of Plenty Coups.  Elvis Old Bull of Lodge Grass.  Joe Pretty Paint and Takes Enemy himself of Hardin.  Many of these young men died due to the violence that surrounded the alcohol and drug traffic on the reservations, but their natural flow on the court inspired me toward the kind of boldness that gives artistry and freedom to any endeavor.  Such boldness is akin to passion. For these young men, and for myself at that time, our passion was basketball.

But rather than creating in me my own intrepid response, seeing Takes Enemy only emphasized how little I knew of bravery, not just on the basketball court, but in life. Takes Enemy breathed a confidence I lacked, a leadership potential that lived and moved. Former AT&T executive Robert Greenleaf, social critic and friend of Robert Frost and E.B. White, once said, “A mark of leaders, an attribute that puts them in a position to show the way for others, is that they are better than most at pointing the direction.”[i]  Takes Enemy embodied this idea. He and his team seemed to work as one as they played with fluidity and joy and abandon. I began to look for this way of life as an athlete and as a person. The search brought me to people who lived life not through dominance but through freedom of movement, and such people led me toward the experience of artistic living. One of the most potent experiences of this came with the mentoring I received from my future wife’s father.

My wife Jennifer and I were in our twenties, not yet married. I was at the dinner table with her and her family when Jennifer’s father said something short, a sharp-edged comment, to her mother. At the time her father was the president of a large multinational sports-oriented corporation based in Washington State. Thinking back, I hardly noticed the comment, probably because of the chaos and uncontrolled nature of the ways I had previously experienced conflict. For me most conflicts revealed a simmering anger or a resentment that went underground, plaguing the relationship, taking a long time to disperse. I did not give her father’s comment a second thought until sometime after dinner when he approached me as I relaxed on the couch. He had just finished speaking with his wife over to one side of the kitchen when he came to me.

“I want to ask your forgiveness for being rude to my wife,” he said.

I could not imagine what he was talking about. I felt uncomfortable, and I tried to get him and me out of this awkward conversation as soon as I could.

“You don’t have to ask me,” I said.

But from there, the tension only increased for me. I had not often been in such situations in which things were handled in an equitable way. My work experience had been that the person in power (typically, but not always, the male) dominated the conflict so that the external power remained in the dominant one’s hands, while internally everyone else (those not in power) suffered bitterness, disappointment, and a despairing nearly hopeless feeling regarding the good of the relationship. Later in my family and work relationships I found that when I lived from my own inordinate sense of power, I too, like those I had overpowered, would have a sick feeling internally for having won my position through coercion or force rather than through the work of a just and mutual way of being. In any case, in the situation with Jennifer’s father, I felt tense and wanted to quickly end the moment by saving face for both of us. “You don’t have to ask me,” I said.

“I don’t ask forgiveness for your benefit,” he answered. “I ask in order to honor the relationship I share with my wife. In our family, if one person hurts another, we not only ask forgiveness of the person who has been hurt, but also of anyone else who was present in order to restore the dignity of the one we’ve hurt.”  

From a relatively brief experience, I gained respect for myself and began see the possibilities of an artistic way of life free of perpetual binds and rifts, and free of the entrenched criticalness that usually accompanies such relationships. My own life was like a fortress compared to the open lifestyle Jennifer’s father espoused. I began to understand that much of my protectedness, defensiveness, and lack of will to reveal myself might continue to serve as a fortification when in future conflicts, but would not lead me to more whole ways of experiencing the world.

I also began to see that the work of an artist requires the ability to humble oneself, and a desire to honor relationships with others as sacred. In Greenleaf’s work, this takes the form of listening and understanding, and only the one who seeks to honor the inherent dignity of other human beings is able to approach people first by listening and trying to understand, rather than by needing to be understood.  The artist embodies the beauty and depth of the beloved other equally through consolation or desolation, rather than approaching art through coercion, manipulation,  or dominance. Just as “true listening builds strength in other people,” it follows that a lack of listening weakens people. 

In basketball, to listen is to evoke chemistry and teamwork and unity and victory.  In basketball, the beloved other is embodied in a collective engagement involving great cost, great responsibility, and great opportunity.  And now that my life has entered a place where the grace of basketball gives way to the power of the written word, I wonder again what it means to truly listen.  When reading a great poem, for example, I find the beloved other embodied in the heart or soul of the artist and given life on the page, a sort of covenant with humanity that is both vigorous and vital.  For me the sacredness of this encounter occurs generally late at night when my three girls are asleep and the house has fallen quiet.  Often my wife and I sit together at the kitchen table.  She reads to me.  Or I read to her.  We read the poem aloud. 

What does it mean then, to listen to art, and to the artists of our nation, and our world?  What does it mean to listen to Alexander, and Alexie, and Browning, and Brontë, and Tolstoy, and Dickens, and the Kokinshū, and Sappho, and all the artists who commandeer the vessels of our dreams?

In the half dark of the house, a light burning over my shoulder, I find myself asking this question.  

In my waking dream I see Jonathan Takes Enemy like a war horse running strong and fierce.

The question gives me pause to remember him and his artistry, and how he listened to something more. 

The answer drives me deeper into life. 

 


[i]Greenleaf, R.K. (1977), Servant leadership, p 15.

[ii]Greenleaf, R.K. (1977), Servant leadership, p 17.

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Shann Ray SHANN RAY is a poet and prose writer whose debut collection of stories, AMERICAN MASCULINE, was selected for the Bakeless Prize and appears with Graywolf Press. He is also the author of Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity (Rowman & Littlefield), has served as a research psychologist for the Centers for Disease Control and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Humanities. His stories and poems have appeared in McSweeney’s, StoryQuarterly, Northwest Review, Narrative, and Poetry International among other venues. Ray, who writes in honor of his mother Saundra Rae, was part of a family basketball dynasty in Montana and now lives with his wife and three daughters in Spokane, Washington where he teaches leadership and forgiveness studies at Gonzaga University. www.shannray.com

46 Responses to “The Artistry of Montana Basketball Legend Jonathan Takes Enemy”

  1. Brad Listi says:

    ***NEW INFO TO CHECK OUT RELATED TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE***

    sorry to break into your post here Brian, but wanted people to see this right after the above artice:
    this comment from Mike Richardson below indludes the link to the Sports Illustrated article on Takes Enemy from years ago. A gorgeous and well-detailed and thoughtful SI peice:

    Hi Shann and everyone. What great memories of some classic Montana high school basketball moments. For those who haven’t read it, here is the link to the SI article Shann mentioned: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1118885/index.htm
    Dean said it all, the days of Kral and Shann will be etched in Montana basketball history forever. For some extra memories, check this out as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUsQWrdqTJQ
    I can’t believe it has been so long, but with articles like this, we can all remember the good time of PHS and class A basketball in the 80’s.

    ***see above link for great Sports Illustrated article on Jonathan Takes Enemy***

    Now back to Brad’s original post:
    this was great, shann. welcome.

    first of all, i just gotta say that jonathan takes enemy might be the greatest name for an athlete that i’ve ever heard of.

    this also struck a chord for me because i grew up in indiana, the quintessential basketball state, where high school basketball takes on an almost absurd level of importance. i remember going to games and seeing guys like glenn robinson and alan henderson and greg oden and eric montross play ball. but there was nobody in my childhood who had more of what you describe re: takes enemy than damon bailey. he was a manchild in high school and bob knight started recruiting him when he was in — what? — 8th grade. he was a legend before he was a sophomore. i remember going to see my high school team play against him during his senior year; the game was at hinkle field house, where butler plays its home games, and where jimmy chitwood hit the winning jumper from the top of the key in hoosiers. bailey dropped 32 on us that night, i think. something like that. he came out onto the court and there was a hush. his first shot — i still remember it — was a 3-pointer that bounced twice on the rim and then dropped in.

    he went on to have an average college career and not much (if any) pro career.

    interestingly, bob knight said that of all the talented players that he coached through the years, the one he had the hardest time reaching was bailey. knight, in my opinion, is a tremendous asshole, so maybe bailey was simply smart enough to box him out and mentally tough enough to let it go in one ear and out the other. or maybe he had been a god for so long, the game of basketball and all of its attendant expectations became something of a burden.

    anyway. a great read. thanks for posting. and again: welcome!

    • Shann Ray says:

      Thanks Brad.
      Indiana hoops is the real deal!
      I played against Steve Alford and B. Knight there when I was in college.
      A powerful sports venue.

      Thanks for TNB. It’s beautiful!

      Shann

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I read the SI article long ago. It was included in a collection of sports writing — in fact, I think it was called The Best American Sports Writing of 1992–which was edited by Thomas McGuane, a wonderful writer who lives on a ranch in or near Montana’s Paradise Valley. I’m sure Shann will be familiar with McGuane, and as a Montana native from the same area, he might even have met him.

        Livingston has got to be one of the greatest small towns in America, if not the world. I love Livingston and the whole blessed state, including the so-called big empty. I hope, one day, to write about the night I camped out alone on the Crow reservation near Hardin. There’s really not much of a story to tell, but the experience is worth recounting, if I can only find a way to make my impressions as vivid and interesting to readers as they were to me.

        • Shann Ray says:

          Thomas McGuane is a legend of Montana writing, as well as national. Thanks for bringing him to mind here. And way to give Montana and Livingston some serious accolades there. I love it too! Paradise Valley outside Livingston, all the way to the old entrance to Yellowstone National Park is one of the great beauties of the Rockies.

  2. Joe Daly says:

    Shann-

    Welcome aboard. I really enjoyed this piece, and the fact that I’m not remotely a basketball fan speaks to the quality of the writing and the compelling delivery of the story.

    I do remember being at work one day, listening to the radio while unpacking cartons of Levi’s jeans, buried deep in a warehouse. The DJ ended the song with an announcement that Len Bias had died and that, while details were still scarce, it appeared to be drug-related. A pretty sucky basketball memory, but one that often comes to mind when I think of old school talents of the game.

    Also interesting about your future father-in-law’s behavior. This very morning, I went for a jog with my neighbor who was sharing some strategies that he had learned in his 24 year marriage. A propos of nothing, he offered that whenever he and his wife did have any type of “cold war” in the house, if the kids were there, he made it a point to apologize to each of them, despite there consistent protests that his apology was not necessary.

    Keep ‘em coming.

  3. Shann Ray says:

    Great points Joe.
    Len Bias was an amazing player. A deep tragedy when his life ended that way.
    And the nuances and complexity and dark matter and light associated with forgiveness, reconciliation, power, and atonement are an elegant mystery, that’s for sure.
    Thanks for the welcome.
    Shann

  4. Caleb Powell says:

    Whatever happened to Jonathan Takes Enemy? Did he play or even go to college? Where is he now?

  5. Shann Ray says:

    Jonathan was recruited heavily by big schools, but when they looked in they found difficulty with grades and I think he already had children, he then only had a choice to go to Sheridan community college in Wyoming. I saw the papers showed he scored 4 pts or 2 pts or 0 in some games there. Then he disappeared. Later he showed up in the Billings Montana newspaper, The Gazette, scoring 65 or 70 or 56 in the city league there. Then if I recall it right he drank himself (a relentless thread both on the Cheyenne reservation where I grew up, and on the Crow reservation where he is from) into a ton of weight and disappeared again. About 5 years later I think it was, he showed up strong and true at Rocky Mountain College in Billings Montana where he averaged about 21 for them for his junior and senior years there. A beautiful article was later written on him in Sports Illustrated.

    He lives that strong true life in Washington now.

    I spoke to him about a year ago and he and family were doing well.

    Still considered one of the best all-time in Montana basketball history, and he’s still playing ball.

    • Shawn Wetzel says:

      Hey Shann,
      I remember my senior year at Northern and Rocky came up to play us late in the regular season. We got out on em early and never looked back. Bakes pulled all of the starters with about 7 minutes to go. Accordingly, ;) we had walked off to a standing O from the home crowd as we were up 30. As we sat down and the “bench” came in, we witnessed a remarkable performance by Jonathan down the stretch as he proceeded to score somewhere around 22-24 points in said time. With about a minute and change to go we were only up 6 after he hit a 3 from Pryor or more accurately 25+ feet out. Bakes comes flying down the bench and yells at all of us to get back in their to stop this cat before he actually pulls it off. We ended up get em by 10 or so but it was one of the best displays of a cat going into the proverbial “zone” that I had ever seen. The other was during my senior year at Corvallis when we met Elvis and the Crow Hops in the State semis….but that’s another story. ;)

      • Shann Ray says:

        Good to hear from you Shawn.
        And sweet story to add to the legend of Jonathan Takes Enemy.
        I know, I have a few great ones of Elvis Old Bull too.
        Best to you and yours!

  6. Dean Hendrickson says:

    GREAT PIECE SHANN. I HAVE ALWAYS ADMIRED THE NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS THAT WE HAVE HERE IN THE GREAT STATE OF MONTANA SUCH AS TAKES ENEMY, ELVIS OLD BULL AND MANY OTHERS, BUT TO THOSE WHO MAY NOT KNOW, SHANN AND HIS BROTHER KRAL FERCH AND THEIR DAD, TOM FERCH, ARE LEGENDS AS WELL. THE “WILL TO WIN”, DEDICATION AND WORK ETHIC OF THIS FAMILY IS BEYOND MOST ANYONE WHO HAS PLAYED THE GAME. “THEY REFUSE TO LOSE AND NEVER GIVE UP!” EVEN TODAY, AS I WATCH THE THREE PLAYING IN TOURNAMENTS TOGETHER, AND THERE DAD IS NOT A YOUNG MAN, THEY ARE FIERCE COMPETITORS AND THEY WILL PLAY THEIR HEARTS OUT TO WIN THE GAME! KRAL WILL BE INDUCTED INTO THE MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME THIS FALL. CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES TO YOU SHANN AND IF WRITING IS YOUR “NEW PASSION”, THEN I
    KNOW YOU WILL BE THE BEST…”WINNING IS KNOWING YOU DID YOUR BEST”… YOU’RE A WINNER.

  7. Shann Ray says:

    Thanks Dean. Always wonderful to hear from you!
    Hope you and your family are enjoying life together, and your pics are still bringing delight to all.
    Shann

  8. DeAnn Kreiger Weickum says:

    I enjoyed your memories and life lessons you have taken from them…

  9. Mike Richardson says:

    Hi Shann and everyone. What great memories of some classic Montana high school basketball moments. For those who haven’t read it, here is the link to the SI article Shann mentioned: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1118885/index.htm
    Dean said it all, the days of Kral and Shann will be etched in Montana basketball history forever. For some extra memories, check this out as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUsQWrdqTJQ
    I can’t believe it has been so long, but with articles like this, we can all remember the good time of PHS and class A basketball in the 80′s.
    Shann, you haven’t aged at all, what is your secret?

    • Shann Ray says:

      Wow, thanks for tracking those down Mike!

      That article on Jonathan in SI is sure good to read again. Beautiful, tragic, profound, thoughtful, and powerful article. Thanks for sending along the link.

      As for young, I have a good wife. Great wife, great life! Plus raising three lovely girls keeps me you.

      Best to you and loved ones,
      Shann

  10. Greg Jones says:

    Some Art and talents are not truly appreciated until the Author reveals there perception of What they have accomplished in their life. I for one would like to understand this artists motivation, inspiration and drive in their own words. Jonathon encompassed a complete Spirit of basketball. His fluidity and unorthodox moves were not taught at any basketball camp, they were an innate natural part of his being. I was fortunate to play along side of him in high school and witness his Artistry first hand. He was a Master of the Game. I wonder if he realizes the impact his Artistry has had on others? The native american spirit is strong, proud and true in Jonathan Takes Enemy.

  11. Greg Jones says:

    Great life lessons on Honor and Dignity Shann! They have become lost in today’s world only to be ressurected by those bold and humble enough to exercise them. I have found the smallest acts of honor are the ones that have the power to transform one’s life.

    • Shann Ray says:

      Thanks Greg, great to be in touch with you again. Beautiful posts by you above.
      Hope you and your loved ones are enjoying the grace and strength of a life lived for each other.
      Take good care,
      Shann

  12. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    “…people who lived life not through dominance but through freedom of movement,” I find this description of leaders you sought especially profound, along with your portrait of this player. Sounds like he could have schooled both Pierce and James in his heyday.

    Listening and the beloved in basketball, I like that too. There is an artistry in the game of basketball that makes it like no other.

    Welcome, looking forward to more of your posts.

    • Shann Ray says:

      Thanks for the welcome Nathaniel.
      Takes Enemy was a serious player. Would have been great fun to watch him match up with those two. I just heard from a friend, that he played against Takes Enemy in an all-Indian tournament and Takes Enemy had 75.

      Doesn’t suprise me at all.

  13. Rod Kastelitz says:

    Great piece Shann! I had the opportunity to play with Jonathan when he came to Rocky. He was an amazing basketball player and a wonderful person to be around. I am pleased to hear that Jonathan and his family are doing well in Washington.

    Great to hear from you. I wish you and your family the best .

    Rod

  14. Shann Ray says:

    You too Rod, best to you and your family as well!
    That’s great you played with Jonathan, I had faintly remembered that. Tell us a little here, if you get this, about how he was a wonderful person to be around.

  15. Rod Kastelitz says:

    When Jonathan arrived at Rocky he looked exactly the same as I remembered. The last time I saw him I was a freshman in high school in Livingston. I was sitting in the stands at the Butte Civic Center watching Livingston play Hardin in the best basketball game I have ever witnessed. I watched two of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Montana go head to head in a morning game at the state tournament. It is a memory I will never forget. I didn’t know Jonathan but like many others I was huge fan.

    I never heard much about him again until our coach announced that Jonathan would be coming to Rocky to play ball. Everyone on our team was excited that Jonathan would be joining the team.

    Jonathan was a great person. He was soft spoken and unassuming. When Jonathan was at Rocky he had a family and that was his number one priority. You could tell that he had made a conscious decision to get his priorities straight. You could also tell that he was appreciative of the new opportunities being provided.

    One thing I always remember about Jonathan is he was always smiling, especially on the court. He was a fierce competitor but you could always see how much fun he was having on the court. In practice he would make an amazing move (which usually happened every time he touched the ball) to score a basket and would run down the court and give his defender a light tap on the butt just to say good defense. That’s just the type of person he is. Even though he was one of the greatest players to come out of the state he was never arrogant. I feel priviliged that I got the opportunity to know Jonathan. Im confident that Jonathan’s family is still his number one priority.

  16. Shann Ray says:

    Thanks Rod, for those up close descriptions of Jonathan.

  17. jonathan evison says:

    . . .hooray, so glad to see you posting, shann! . . . you write about hoops like only an insider could . . .

    • Shann Ray says:

      hey bro, you opened this door like a gentleman.

      thanks for the kindness.

      best to you and your loved ones!

      keep writing like a giant with a deft and beautiful touch.

      shann

  18. Alan Heathcock says:

    Stunning stuff, my G-wolf brother. As I’m another writer who found beauty in sport and who had to learn to live with artistic freedom, I greatly appreciate these words. Elegant and true and powerful. If this isn’t a first introduction to your work, this is surely an astounding announcement of your unique and formidable voice in the world of letters. Best to you.

    -Al

    • Shann Ray says:

      Great to hear from you, and glad to be in the wolfpack. I’m tracking your luminosity.
      Thanks for the love!

      Shann

  19. Sara H says:

    This was great, Shann.

    • Shann Ray says:

      Thanks Sara!
      I saw your site. Wow, you do beautiful and mighty reviews.
      Thanks for keeping the lit flame alive.

      Shann

      • Sara H says:

        Thanks for that. I’m looking forward to reading your book when it is out, being a Montana resident and 7 year Spokane resident. Makes me get all “WOO! Home team!” … which I suppose is apt, considering the sports content here.

        High school basketball really is the thing to see here. With a lack of pro teams in state, I think people enjoy seeing the passion and skill combinations that high school and college teams have.

        • Shann Ray says:

          I know, the energy and emotion of high school and college b-ball here in Spokane is pretty amazing. So many good players. I enjoyed watching Ferris and G-Prep players this year, and so many other good teams around.

  20. Rjay Barsh says:

    That was a great read for me. I now understand the powerfulness of being in uncomfortable situations and the lessons we learn from them

    • Shann Ray says:

      Thanks Rjay. How’s the hoops life?
      Hope you and yours are well.
      I know, the lessons come, don’t they, from some type of almost unconscious or divine sense of listening down inside some of the uncomfortable situations we face.

  21. As I was reading an issue “Poets&Writers” specifically geared towards writing contests I came across a quote of yours. “Write as if your blood is made of fire, as if your heart it a vessel to carry all of humanity.” As an aspiring writer i was deeply inspired, moved enough to google your name (the ultimate compliment in this day and age) and from the search I came across your site and this entry. Once again I am deeply moved and inspired. When I played high school I remember sometimes feeling uncomfortable and even afraid of certain high pressure/uncomfortable times and now I find that as a college student I seek those moments out. Anyways, thank you for a double does of inspiring words.

    • Shann Ray says:

      What’s up Nana?
      Thanks for your post above. I love Poets and Writers.
      Glad to hear you are an aspiring writer. Life with people and life with words makes for a great life!
      All the best to you in your pursuit of the writing life.
      Shann

  22. Stefani Farris says:

    Shann,

    What a fine, thought-provoking piece. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon it, but I did, and here you are, writing as powerfully and thoughtfully as ever. I’m eager to get ahold of your new collection. I do hope our paths cross again one day!

    Cheers,

    Stefani

    • Shann Ray says:

      Hi Stefani!
      What are you up to these days. Is it outdoor leadership like facebook mentions, or is that another you? How’s the writing?
      Best to you,
      Shann

  23. Brett Bardwell says:

    Shann – I live in Indiana – got real interested in Montana HS bball and Jonathan Takes Enemy – Then I got the awesome opportunity to work bball camps in the mid 90′s for gary turcott at Carroll College in Helena – Learned about you , your bother and your great teams at Livingston and showdowns with Hardin. I had never known just how great bball was in Montana. There were some very talented kids in camp – I am now a HS athletic director here in Huntinburg Indiana ( Southridge HS) – Would love to see some videos of those great games – especially the one in 84 I believe – I also have a good fly fishing buddy from Cody Wyoming – Dean Olynick , who played at Montana Tech. Really enjoyed this web site
    Thanks
    Brett

  24. Shann Ray says:

    thanks for your message Brett. I know, Montana, kind of like Indiana, produces a bunch of shooters. I’m always joking about how everyone in Montana can shoot. old school discipline. I think my dad may still have some videos of the old games. fun days back then. best to you in your work and helping to raise up the next generation.
    Shann

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  27. Mike Nelson says:

    Shann;

    The power of the internet touched me today (a little behind the times after seeing the dates of the posts above). Received an email with a link to this article and have been flying through all the links and comments for a little longer than I should be (while at work). I played against JTE in 6th grade, and enjoyed playing with him and my other great teammates from 7th-12th. Playing ball in Hardin had its ups and downs (at least three of my friends from those teams were no longer with us within a few years after graduation), but the times are certainly memorable. The culture around basketball was an experience you can’t really explain (it’s not every day that you get adopted into a tribal clan or receive blankets at a powwow), and definitely shaped my approach to many future life experiences. The runs we had were fantastic, and the excitement around the team was pretty unbelievable. It was great to be a part of it. The “events” against St Labre/Livingston with the Ferch family were never short on hype, and the games lived up to it. I remember coming into the locker room after losing the 1984 state consolation game (we choked in the opening round) against Livingston, after a moment of quiet, Coach Pfeifer said something to the effect of, “I didn’t think I’d ever coach a high school team scoring more than 100 points in a game and lose.” I think the game was 103-102, and received more newspaper commentary than the title game for the excitement and records set–JTE scored 50 (sorry to Central vs Central for stealing the show). Enjoyed seeing the two of you take it to the next level (and for me to claim to have touched a small part of the history), and also spread the word through FCA (if I remember correctly). After taking up v-ball (intramural/city league) in college (and later in the Air Force), it was fun to see Kral come back to MSU in an Olympic Team exhibition game. Wow, I’ve rambled much more than I intended–just wanted to leave a quick note. The sad thing is that I actually left a bunch out. :-) Thanks for the article. It brought lots back. Playing in Hardin was quite the experience. Playing with JTE was something. My family forwards me updates when they hear about him–always good to hear he’s doing well. It would be good to chat with him again sometime. He was pretty quiet, so I’d have to find a way to get him talking. Best to you. – Mike

  28. Buddy Windy Boy says:

    Great Piece Shann!!!

    It is truly amazing where one finds inspiration and encouragement, the stories and experiences that shape us as human beings are truly amazing. Its always a pleasure to read your work, I appreciate the different light you shed upon something that is near to my heart….this game of Basketball……and its correlation to the game of Life.
    Many players find comfort hearing the leather hit the hardwood…..the sound of the net swishing.
    I remember being a young kid, trying to get into the Hardin High School Gym, standing there with my mother, Janine Pease, waiting to crowd the gym and cheer. I listened to her stories of Jonathan as a little fella, her descriptions of his game, fluid, flowing……running and gunning….hardworking…..hardnosed…..playing with heart……playing Indian Ball….a thing of beauty. The stories he drew with his game, the images he put inside my head, haven’t ever left my sight.
    Life lessons are sometimes hard, but better a lesson learned than not at all…..

    I like the idea your then Future Father-in-Law had.

    Definitely looking forward to future work!

    Thanks
    Buddy

  29. Shann Ray says:

    Thanks Mike, great to hear of your life and the opportunity to be on that sweet Hardin Bulldogs ride to the top of Montana basketball!
    Best to you and yours,
    Shann

  30. Shann Ray says:

    Buddy Windy Boy!

    Talk about a pure J with deep range! I’ve seen that beautiful jumper of yours up close! Too close in fact, as I think I still have it in my eye.
    You are one of the best my friend, hoops and life.
    So glad to hear from you here, and thankful to know that you are a light and a mentor and a man people emulate and follow.
    Thanks for being a leader to me and others,
    Shann

    ps–see you on the court

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