In an effort to fill the time between stocking shelves part time at a liquor store and also the desire to not be a fat 30 year old I’ve been trying to stay active. No I don’t work out anymore, not like I REALLY did ever, I went through spurts, but I’m inherently lazy, and swimsuit season is over. The urge to hibernate right now is strong. In an oddly domestic day around 2 months ago I decided to shop for some new sheets. Side Note: the sheet game is absurd these days. You’re options are basically sandpaper for a pennies or a decent thread count for stupid beans. No in-between. If you’re curious I went with these new fangled sheets that are basically sheets made from the same material as T-shirts. That way I can sleep naked and it’s like I’m wearing clothes. Or I can wear clothes and it’s like I’m one of those cool kids that wear two shirts.
Anyways, point of this is that I ran into an old regular (a 60+ retired teacher) whilst shopping who said he had a basketball league starting up soon and asked if I wanted to play. I used to ball. One of my friends I used to play basketball with regularly ‘retired’ because of ACL surgery or some shit, what a pussy, right? Anyways point is I haven’t put up a shot in 2 years. But fear of my bathroom mirror turning into a fun house one prevailed and I said yes. All I was told was be at Burleigh Manor Middle at 4 pm on these days, and the rest was left to my imagination. I didn’t know how organized or how seriously I should take this. Over the past two months I’ve sent a few subtle texts trying to suss out these details without overtly asking, “Should I care about this? Because I kind of don’t want to take this too seriously at this point in my life, I just don’t want to be fat.” Here’s an example:
Should I wear anything in particular tomorrow? Color? Etc?
“Wear good shoes”
REAAAAAAAL helpful there, bud. Anyways the day is here and I figure:
I’ve never been to Burleigh Manor Middle, in fact I’m pretty sure it was built long after I dropped out of school. In regards to the school I’ll say the entrance is not well defined, and the parking lot doesn’t make a heap of sense, but I made it. I walk inside, there are people out front, but no one gives me a second glance, your kids are real safe there… I walk in, see a janitor and I ask him where the gym is. He stared at me like I was a special ed student, though to be fair I can totally see him confusing a bearded guy in his late 20’s showing up at a middle school after the school day ended with one of the students he cleans up after when they’ve eaten a tub of Elmer’s glue. It was even more understandable when he literally pointed and said 20 ft away and on the left. yay… No one is in the gym. It’s 3:50. I was told, “We start at 4,” so again, I don’t know how official this is, is that tip-off? I’m old now, I have to stretch and again I haven’t shot a basketball in 2 years. People start trickling in, luckily the guy I knew is one of the first there so it’s less strange to just be in a middle school after hours. Lots of different body types walking into the gym, plus shockingly I’m making shots in warmup so at this point I’m feeling pretty good. Recreation ball and I dig it. Once six people were ‘suited’ up we start the first game, first possession I take the ball down the right wing, euro-step, scoop finish at the basket, pretty much like this:
Couple guys were like, okay new guy, which was the peak of the day because I then proceeded to get worked up and down the court. My cardio is trash. My lack of Cardio irked, let’s call him Neon, on account of his neon chartreuse shirt, and we clashed several times as I’ll elaborate down the road, even though we were on the same team. Commence with the baskets!
First of all at 6’3 if I’m standing under the basket double teamed by two people, notably shorter than I am (but obviously not open), and you are wide open for a short jumper and I say, “put it up,” what does that mean to you? I think it means shoot, and I’ll play the rebound. Neon thought it meant bullet it to the white kid who obviously can’t dunk (and again not open) and then get mad when the pass is way over my head saying indignantly, “You called for it.” This happened several times. More people showed up and unfortunately a few were of the more serious (Neon) variety. The two of note were brothers who clearly played college ball, not D1 or anything, but notably better than me. The older one, based on my Freudian analysis, was stoic and a hard ass. One of those guys that can’t have fun playing basketball even though they are putting in work against old men and out of shape losers. I love basketball, if you make a nice play, even on the other team, I’ll give you your props. He’s one of those dicks that just stares as you when you say something nice, like, why the fuck are you talking to me? And I’m guessing it’s a lot because his happy go lucky brother was smaller and yet still better than him.
At this point they took me off the oldest man there and had me guarding a fucking gazelle. I’d also like to point out, and this has happened in just about every organized basketball scenario I’ve ever been a part of, I’m shocked that people insist on telling me to play the wing instead of under the basket. I’m not a shooter, not a ball handler, I have a decent drive, but I don’t care how long you’ve been playing together, if you’re a dumpy 5’4 guy even if I have zero under the basket skills, at 6’3 I need to be there over you, and I have news for you, MY ONLY SKILLS ARE UNDER THE BASKET.
Like I said I was getting worked. Foolish me trying to play pick and roll with a guy who tries to bounce pass in the lane. The gazelle was fresh from not playing the first game and he was also cherry picking, but regardless, after Neon continually blowing the pass to my back door cut to the basket, shocker when gazelle would dart back from not having to play defense and take the cross court dump for an easy layup. After the third-ish time this happened Neon got snarky and snipped at me that I needed to get back. I said nothing as I was keeled over gasping for air like a pig with it’s throat slit, but If I could have I would have said something like, “oh, is that’s what happening? I hadn’t noticed.” That would have really irked him.
It was then I decided that I’m working too hard for a rec game, and no quips from Neon would deter my resolve. Besides I’m pretty sure I scored more points overall than Neon anyways. I settled into my effort rhythm and it worked. Neon wanted to call it quits after game two and I loudly said, “Run it back, I’m good.” Now knowing how to budget my energy the third game was my best and his worst. Who’s lacking effort now? I’d rather be a solid 6/10 every game than a 7,6,3. Consistency is key.
The only other thing I found really weird is that they all got really worked up when the net got caught in the rim. Older brother would lose his shit if we didn’t stop the game and fix it immediately. I mean first of all it only ever happens when you make a pure shot, and he was the only one doing that, and then you want to bitch? over what? Also dead give away that he’s never played in the hood. That doesn’t happen with chain nets, or hoops with no nets, or milk cartons.
But what do I know? I did steal the ball on a break away at one point and blow the open layup… and the put back… and the put back… I didn’t make that shot at all actually, the defense got back in time…