Sunday, November 3, 2013
'Dr. Dribble' has a ball at NYC Marathon
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- It all started with a dare.
Darren Weissman had already run the Miami Marathon in 2012 and crossed it off of his bucket list.
But nine months ago, a friend of his dared him to do it again -- only this time, while dribbling two basketballs as he was running.
Weissman, known as "Doctor Dribble" because he trains NBA players using unique ball-handling drills, was hoping someone would talk him out of it so he’d have an excuse not to go.
But no one did.
"All my friends thought it would be cool, fun and interesting and add a little flair to the marathon, so they encouraged me to do it," the 31-year-old Weissman told ESPN NewYork.com after completing Sunday’s New York City Marathon in 4 hours, 42 minutes and 54 seconds -- yes, while dribbling a pair of basketballs.
"I couldn’t believe the response I got from all the runners. I heard that people were on their last breath and I gave them a second wind. Their legs were giving out on them and I helped pace them all the way to the finish line by giving them a surge of energy. So that alone inspired me to want to continue to do that."
In the process, Weissman realized he'd accidentally broken a world record, while also missing an opportunity to raise money for charity. He’s currently in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the fastest marathon man while dribbling two basketballs -- 4 hours, 39 minutes and 12 seconds, set at the Fort Lauderdale Marathon on Feb. 17.
Now, Weissman says, he continues to do marathons to support charities, inspire runners and give them some form of entertainment.
On Sunday, though, Weissman was the one being inspired. During the NYC Marathon, he heard someone say, "Do you know who that is? Do you know who that is? That’s Dr. Dribble!"
Weissman looked over. It was a blind man who was running the marathon with the help of an escort.
"So the guy helping him said, 'You’re amazing! You dribble so beautifully! Even a blind man can see you!' " Weissman said.
"That kept me going throughout the race. I couldn’t stop thinking about it."
Weissman trains NBA players such as Andray Blatche, Penny Hardaway and Tim Hardaway Jr. back in Miami, where he resides.
"It's a lot of fun, and I’d love to work with more of them," Weissman said.
Weissman says many players go into his program thinking they've seen every ball-handling drill -- that is, until they see his.
Weissman began dribbling when he was a kid. He said it was his dream to play basketball in high school, so he was always dribbling. Everywhere he went, whether it was the park or the supermarket, he’d have a ball in his hand.
He briefly became infatuated playing Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt on the original Nintendo, but his father took it away.
"I couldn't play Nintendo anymore, so I’d just play basketball," he said.
Weissman used to train much harder for marathons. Now, he runs in too many, and he doesn’t have time. One day, he's competing in a marathon. The next day, he might be doing a half-Ironman across the country. He's pretty much all over the map at this point.
"I used to work out every day and got in phenomenal shape," Weissman said. "Now it’s just running, resting and recovering."
Weissman considered somewhat of a celebrity on the marathon circuit. He’s frequently asked for autographs at airports, restaurants and marathon expos.
"It's really amazing how everyone is so receptive of me," Weissman said. "That’s why I continue to do it."
Ever wonder what the hardest part of running a marathon with two basketballs is?
(No, its not the fact that Weissman can’t use his hands and has to have his family members pour water in his mouth.)
"It's dribbling around the water stations," Weissman said. "It's tough with all those cups on the ground."