RABBI REEVE ROBERT BRENNER IS A BASKETBALL hotshot, and he's not too humble to say so. "I'm now in my fifties, I've probably scored more points, committed more fouls, stolen more balls, maybe than anybody," he says. "Is that saying enough for you?"
No? "I can give you the names of a dozen people who can tell you how good I was."
Still not enough? How about this: "I've reinvented the game of basketball."
Whoaaa there, just a minute!
Yes, that's what he says, and that's what he means. "If you examine the game of basketball, you can't tamper much with the ball or the rim," he explains. "The only thing left to tamper with is the board."
So tamper he did, and the result was Bankshot, a "marriage of billiards and basketball . . . built on the model of mini-golf." Bankshot is played by shooting a basketball at 19 ordinary looking hoops and nets, each attached to an oddly shaped backboard.
Brenner, a Holocaust scholar and author of The Faith and Doubt of Holocaust Survivors, has served the Bethesda Jewish Congregation since 1987. He initially developed the game for the physically handicapped in 1981 when an athletically inclined cousin was confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident. After getting a patent the next year, Brenner "designed and redesigned," trying various materials, including PVC, steel, lucite and finally fiberglass to make the brightly colored backboards, which have been shown in the Israel National Museum in Jerusalem and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
He also created the Bankshot course, which fits into an area half the size of a tennis court, and developed the idea of Bankshot as a family game. "I wanted it to be a tough, challenging game, not a mini-game but a serious sport," says Brenner. "That was my major motivation." Now he envisions Bankshot in "every playground in America, every city in America, anywhere leisure-time activities are played."
Already there are courts in 65 cities (although so far, none around here; Brenner's still negotiating to have Bankshots built in Herndon and Chantilly). And on August 26, the first nationwide Bankshot tournament will be held on those courts. "It will be like bowling or miniature golf. Whoever scores the most wins," Brenner says.
A perfect game is 200 points. Only one person has ever managed to score that.