Basketball Bounces Back at Stonegate

Never mind Watergate.

Don't worry about Contra gate.

The biggest threat to our way of life might have been Stonegate.

For the sake of that small segment of our population unfamiliar with this burning issue, it seems the homeowners association of Stonegate, a housing tract in Castaic, had outlawed basketball hoops in driveways after complaints from a small group of residents in the 250-home development.

The courtside Scrooges were concerned about the noise generated from driveway games and the horrible damage done to the design of the houses from the metal rims, nets, and wooden backboards protruding from the roofs of garages.

These are the kind of people who could tolerate the building of golf courses as long as they wouldn't insist on putting those ugly holes in the ground, those silly flags in the holes and those ridiculous patches of sand all over the place.

These are the kind of people who get in a huff if you want to ruin a perfectly flat roof by sticking ugly metal rods on it merely to watch television; if you want to dig holes in a beautiful backyard just so you'll have a place to swim; or if you who want to put ugly utility equipment on the outside walls of their homes merely to have heating and air conditioning.

Let's face it, if your surroundings are not good enough for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, why bother?

If the people from Stonegate had had their way in French Lick, Ind., what would Larry Bird have done, become an interior decorator? What would Magic Johnson be doing these days, pulling rabbits out of hats? What would Danny Ainge have done, moved to the whine country?

On Thursday, however, the Stonegate controversy was resolved.

Once they were made aware of just what was going on, the majority of residents in the tract cried foul and, at a special meeting in the Stonegate community hall, voted to once again make Castaic a city of hoops.

But imagine if they hadn't. Imagine if this law had not only prevailed, but spread. Imagine a nation ruled by Stonegate mentality.

The Oval Office, sometime in the 1990s. The President is being briefed by his FBI director, J. Edgar Hooper.

Hooper: Bad news, Mr. President. Lawyers for the Stonegate Committee have proof that the Attorney General has a basketball court in his basement.

President: You're kidding! Not a member of my own Cabinet. Can anybody be trusted?

The Attorney General has been the most outspoken advocate of the new anti-basketball legislation.

He's been the one to crack down on underground sporting goods stores that still sell rims and nets on the black market.

He was the one who created the Hoop Hotline for those who couldn't shake the urge to shoot a few baskets. He told me he'd get calls in the middle of the night from addicts and he'd tell them, "Feel like taking a few shots? Go buy a gun."

He was the one who created BA, Basketball Anonymous. He said it brought a tear to his eyes to attend meetings and watch those 7-footers get up in front of a crowd and confess, "My name's Fred, and I like to play basketball."

Hooper: I know all that, sir. But it turns out that he had a real problem.

Seems he played the game a lot back in the dark ages when people were too insensitive to care about the long-term effects of all that abysmal architecture on their children.

The committee has proof he spent six months in a basketball rehabilitation clinic. Went through the whole program. Not easy, either. They put you out on an asphalt playground with a set of drafting tools and tell you to design a cathedral.

President: But it seemed to be working. Why just last week, he was in here, pushing a bill that would turn Boston Garden into a rose garden.

Hooper: I know, but apparently he's hooked again, sky hooked.

My agents obtained a search warrant and found he even had a bootlegged copy of "Hoosiers" in his VCR. The man has become a real embarrassment.

President: What should we do?

Hooper: What can we do? He knew the rules. Like the slogan says, "Buy a ball. Go to jail."

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