Free throw for free Giordano’s pizza

The shot heard 'round Oak Bluffs.

Marty Nadler and Charlie Nadler, resting up before the annual free-throw-for-Gio's. — Courtesy Charlie Nadler

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

Two important events are on my calendar for Saturday July 12th. One is a comedy show — at Alex’s Place at the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA — where I will be on stage approximately three times as long as I have ever been on stage. I am not anxious in the slightest, because the second event is far more nerve-wracking for me; the annual foul shot competition between my dad and me.

I can’t recall exactly when it started, but it was sometime in the mid 90’s. We were in our driveway in East Chop and decided to shoot a free throw. The loser had to buy a large cheese pizza at Giordano’s. The inaugural loser was my father.

Next summer we decided to repeat the competition. The loser was my father.

We entered the third summer with a clean slate, and once again my father bought me a pizza.

This yearly David and Goliath battle leaves zero upside for me. “Obviously” is the go to response at Gio’s every time we report that I triumphed, because I have gotten a free pizza every single summer…

With the exception of one tragic loss almost ten years ago, which had to be one of the best days of my dad’s life. I couldn’t believe it; the Giordano boys didn’t believe me; luckily it hasn’t happened again.

But it will. And it causes me to lose sleep. My dad has not been missing by much the last couple years. He regularly hits the back of the rim – dead center. Last year the ball rolled around the hoop – seemingly for days – before popping out. The pleasure he gets from seeing me on the verge of a panic attack has become a fun consolation prize for him.

My worry this Saturday is that my dad tells me he has now been training regularly down in Florida; working on his form, anticipating greatness, and visualizing mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, the last time I touched a basketball was last August’s victory against him. It’s a slippery slope and I can feel my heart rate elevating and just had a flashback to that losing year that shall never be mentioned again.

We have had several derivations of rules over time and finally settled on a fair set. Since my dad will read this piece — and I need to constantly refresh his memory so he doesn’t try to slip in any sneaky variations — I now present them in official form:

1.) We flip a coin. The coin flip winner shoots first.

2.) If First Shooter makes his foul shot, Second Shooter must make his foul shot or

buy a pizza. If Second Shooter also makes his shot, reset completely and shoot      again.

3.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter scores, Second Shooter wins a


4.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter also misses, reset completely and

shoot again.

5.) After a sportsmanlike handshake, proceed to Giordano’s where Marty buys

Charlie a pizza.