Playin’ Dirty

I’ve never been a sharp shooter. I have never been a finesse type of player. I have always been a “worker”. I was of sizable stature, for a small town, so I was allotted to play the power forward position. Power forwards are supposed to be tall and big. I was just big – for a kid that was 5’10”.  I once had my varsity coach tell me that I was not allowed to shoot, unless it was inside of the arc and I was wide open. My confidence has been forever shattered due to that moment in time. Thanks Cory, you bastard.

Since my time in organized ball I have played the role of a Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Scot Pollard, or Chris Anderson. Its alright being the ‘crazy’. I mean, I would way rather be the guy dripping buckets, but hey, that wasn’t how the die was rolled. I’ve always been about the team, defense, rebounds, and assists (so I tell myself). But the most fun you get is when you get under someone skin and they implode. Imploding is fun to watch.

The problem with rattling someone else’s cage is that invariably you cage gets rattled a little too, but that was the whole point.

Exhibit A: Church Basketball. I had just joined a ward and was fairly new to the team. It was the last game of the year. We barely had enough players to fill a roster and didn’t have much offensive power. It was an uphill battle that night, as was most of the season. I went to the low block and started banging. Most church ballers don’t like getting boxed out hard. They don’t like getting pushed around. Then I started talking. Nonsense stuff really. I started pulling on other players jerseys. Holding guys on screens you know, kid stuff. Pretty soon everyone on the team was shooting me glares. I knew I was in the heads when they started looking to score some hits on me. I drove a few times and ended up on the floor in a crumpled mess. Guys were flying in with elbows raised. They started to chirp when they hit a three. See, Ron and Dennis just wanted to know they were bothering you. They wanted to just be in your head. That was the fun part, getting a rise out of you. Towards the end of the game a guy head butted me in the back of my head. My work was done. I won.

Exhibit B: Getting tangled up. I played with a group every Wednesday night. First, you gotta understand that there is a difference between pick up ball and organized ball. You don’t go too crazy in pickup ball (depending on the setting). You take it easy. Sure, you might get a little warm under the collar, but nothing drastic, because usually you are playing with friends. This kid started coming regularly, Pond, or something like that, and he brought it every time. He was looking for contact. He was being the crazy guy, except he was good offensively. *There is a fine line in this business. You still have to play basketball. You are never looking to hurt someone.* It bothered most of us. It seemed that he was playing above and beyond the tempo of the rest of us. One night I had enough of it. I made sure to guard him hard. Box him out. Fight for loose balls. Maybe even bump him in the open court as he was dribbling. Then, we had that moment that you see in almost every tense NBA game when two guys get tied up going for the ball. I would not let go of that ball. The play was clearly over, but I wasn’t letting go of the ball. I knew I had made him angry when I got hit with his elbow in the side of my head. Yeah… I thought I was playing World Peace.

What am I talking about? I don’t know man. I am struggling for material.

Look, I love playing basketball, and I felt like writing about it.

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