In honor of the NBA All-Star Game playing tonight, I have decided to talk about my exciting career in sports. Well as much of a career as you can have when you’re twelve.
I never played sports in high school, mostly because my theater department was a starkly All or Nothing type environment (you were in theater or you were in sports, there was no room for both), so all my glory days stories hail back from pee-wee leagues. You think it’s sad to hear the old guy at the bar talk about his game winning touchdowns to win the state championship, but it’s nothing compared to the guy who holds the tiny plastic participation trophy of his on par with the Lombardi Trophy.
Totally the same thing.
I have been watching the All-Star festivities. The dunk contest, the celebrity game, and all the hoopla around Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday. Needless to say, I have been inspired to play basketball more than I have in quite a while. But then I try to reminisce on the glory days and…well I don’t really recall a whole lot glory.
I was always more of a baseball player growing up but in junior high I thought I’d give basketball a shot.
We call that the Reverse Jordan.
I had to learn everything the hard way. When I first played when I was five, they were surprised if you could dribble down the court without knocking yourself out with the ball. So by the time I re-entered the game, I wasn’t really up to date on the rules. I was constantly tossing it back-court, not knowing that that was a thing you couldn’t do, forcing my teammate Winston to leap across the center line.
I wasn’t graced with the best shot in the world either. If I wasn’t standing directly below the basket when I got the ball, I didn’t know what to do. A teammate would get me the ball out by the three point line and I’d just stare at them confused. They’d yell “shoot the ball” but I just heard Greek and dribbled quietly until my opponent politely relieved me of my burden by stealing the ball.
I did attempt one three pointer once and ended up delaying the game for twelve minutes because I got the ball stuck in the support beams on top of the goal.
But that being said I do like to think that I was pretty good at playing the center position. Among my gawky thirteen year old white friends, I felt like Shaq, even though in the grand scheme of professional basketball I realize that my height doesn’t even come close to even being able to compete.
But I’d stand there in the post every game and fight off much smaller defenders for rebounds and feel like a flippin’ All-Star. I’d always have this intimidating game face on and would yell and scream like I was Tarzan or something. Knocking kids over and throwing elbows in faces.
This is funny when I contrast that outward ferocity to what was going on in my head. I have a habit of getting focused on a specific word or song while I play and repeating it endlessly to myself. Focusing on say the first few lines of a Linkin Park song allowed my instincts to take over.
So while I’m clubbing kids over the head, in my mind I’m singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or repeating my Spanish vocabulary words over and over.
But all in all my basketball career petered out about as gracefully as it began. I went back to my rightful sport of baseball before slowly retiring from sport all together. Way before my time.
Bill Murray always gets my pain.