This normally is one of the best times of the year for Charlie Weber. Known by just about everybody in local basketball circles and by many people nationally for running top tournaments with a self-deprecating wit, this month was scheduled to be a bonanza for the 58-year-old Weber.
First there was the Charm City Challenge all-star game in Baltimore, featuring a U.S. team against the locals. Last weekend was the 150-team Capital Invitational tournament. This weekend is the 170-team D.C. Hoops Festival, with 17-and-under and 16-and-under tournaments at several local high schools and colleges.
Weber, however, has not seen a minute of action this spring. And he won't be courtside this weekend, either -- somewhat by choice.
It was late last fall, Weber was diagnosed with prostate cancer. On March 1, he underwent surgery at Fairfax Hospital.
"It went beautifully," Weber said. "Unfortunately, the next day my kidneys stopped functioning. Nobody could figure out why."
So Weber, 58, spent the next two weeks on a dialysis machine as his kidneys slowly returned to health.
"That was great," he said with the usual tinge of sarcasm. "Unfortunately, once my kidneys started functioning, they realized urine was not coming out the way it should."
Weber underwent tests, which determined he had a leak in his bladder, meaning "it was flowing into my body like somebody turned on a hose."
Weber finally was able to go home in mid-March, but doctors inserted a series of tubes to alleviate pressure on his bladder and allow it to recover. Doctors told Weber he could try to carry on as usual, but Weber was not ready.
"I could go, but I'm not going to be walking into the gym with two urine bags in tow," he said. "That's not the image I want to be portraying."
Weber might be temporarily "grounded," but he is maintaining a sense of humor. He says he has to -- consider these stories from last weekend.
Although Connecticut Select's Wayne Simone is running the tournaments in Weber's absence, Weber is still the person everyone goes to. One woman, upset with the view from the stands after paying $5 to get in the gym, called Weber to complain. "Lady, what do you want out of me?" he thought.
Then, after midnight one night, a coach called in desperation because his team was going to lose a tiebreaker of total points scored that would decide first place in pool play.
"He called and said he has video of a game to prove they lost by nine, not by 10," Weber said. "You think at that hour I wanted him to come over with the video to see if they lost by nine, not by 10?"
Weber has a doctor's appointment next Thursday to see if his bladder has healed properly. After that, he hopes to begin preparations for his next event, a new Memorial Day tournament sponsored by Adidas at the University of Maryland.
"I don't have the luxury of just saying, 'The hell with it. I'll sit on the sidelines for a while,' " Weber said. "This is my busy time of the year."
Local Football Players Hit Combine
In addition to being a terrific basketball weekend, it is a big one for local high school football players. About 600 participants from across Maryland are expected in College Park on Sunday to take part in the Maryland Football Coaches Association's junior combine. Also Sunday, at Virginia Tech, Nike will hold one of its 12 spring training camps for elite junior football players.
The class of 2006 looks like it could be a special one for the Washington area, so Sunday's events figure to draw plenty of attention.
"This is what the juniors have been waiting for," said Suitland Coach Nick Lynch, whose roster includes All-Met junior linebacker Navorro Bowman. "They've been banging away since January lifting weights, running and doing agility drills. Now, put yourself out there to see where you stand, if that's the correct word. It's a measuring stick for where you are right now. The kids, I know they're sick of me in the weight room. Now they get to compete and stick their chests out a little bit. Find out where they are and where they need to make improvement."