But I came to an astounding realization: I get to decide what's important to me, not anyone else. And this game IS important to me, maybe the most important. As a kid I used it to battle depression, to take my mind off things. In high school I used it to lose weight (40 pounds in one season!) and to play with my friends. It's the one thing I can talk about endlessly; I'm a walking encyclopedia of stats from the past 4 NBA seasons; I can argue passionately about players and teams and coaches and rules.
If you had asked me about this in high school, I would have thought this was normal. I thought EVERYONE who liked basketball did this. But, besides my best friend, I haven't met anyone who can keep up, or would even WANT to keep up. I'm obsessed. I can't get enough.
I'm not a freak athlete. Hell, I'm not even an average athlete. I am, however, an average basketball player. My high school varsity team was the worst high school varsity team on earth: Lajes High School, Division III in DoDDs-Europe. We had a kid on our team who couldn't dribble and routinely blocked his own layup. Our coach insisted we take jump shots when none of us could shoot. With that in mind, picture me ballin. . .from the bench. I was just plain bad. I harbor no fantasies of making the NBA (I AM going to try out for the d-league, one of these days). Basketball was an exercise in frustration for me. I raged, mostly. Raged HARD. I just didn't understand that no one is perfect, and the point was to constantly improve. My coach didn't understand this either.
I can remember the best 3 minutes of basketball I ever played for that team: my teammate was getting triple-teamed by a Portuguese school we were facing, and he barely managed to squeeze the ball to me, and I made a wide-open bucket. After that I forced a turnover and got an assist. Then I played pretty good defense until the half ended.
Holy shit, I felt like a god. I felt so ecstatic--ECSTATIC, as in ecstasy. From 2 points, 1 steal, and 1 assist: ecstasy.
After that I practiced harder, etc etc.
But that's not really the point. Do you know how beautiful the game is? I'm not ashamed to admit it's moved me to tears multiple times, both as a player and a spectator. I remember watching the NBA finals last year, and seeing Dirk do his spin moves and fade-away jumpers during HIS "flu-game," and I thought to myself: Have I ever seen anything more wonderful? Now, Leonardo DiCaprio made me cry from his narration of an imax film about the universe. So, maybe that.
I want to be a coach. I want to dedicate my life to the game, because that's a dedication to ME, who I am. I want to be a broadcaster, or a referee, or play in the D-League. But, please, don't make me live life without it. That's my biggest complaint about Richmond: hardly any public basketball courts, hardly anything to do with it, and all these fucking hipsters walk around with their art degrees and cheer for VCU because they win.
Anyway, with all that said, I leave you all with these. Watch, and marvel.
Bob Cousy - The Houdini of the Hardwood
The first great point guard, the first showman. Some think he saved the NBA. I don't know about that, but he was amazing and fun to watch. I wish I had been alive to watch him live, but at least I'm present to witness his indelible mark on the association: every time you see a behind the back pass, fancy footwork, something flashy, think of The Cous.
"Pistol" Pete Maravich
One of my personal favorite players--and, as a Hawks fan, one of my favorite Hawks legends--he was passionate, a generational talent. He did things with the ball that, watching now, make me cry. RIP "Pistol!"
Hakeem the Dream
A center with handles, credited with inventing a move called "the dream shake." So fast. So strong. So damn good. I'd like to say he's my favorite center, or one of my favorite players like Pistol; but, to be honest, as I'm writing this, I realize I just plain like everyone. Anyway, Hakeem is the reason I practice backwards layups (not to mention his patented move)--not something you resort to often, but something flashy to do to demoralize your defender.
World B. Free
DAT SPIN MOVE. A great scorer and a standup guy.
Alright, I like flashy passers and flashy passes. Two words: elbow pass. Chew on that.
Okay, if I provide a blurb and video about every player I like, Team Liquid would break.
I will say this, just so you don't think I'm obsessed with the flashy: the 76ers and Pacers this year are two of my favorite teams, because they're built perfectly balanced. Watching them on their best nights is like watching the Citizen Kane of teamwork.
I know I wrote some comments like: "rwar rwar lockout *raspberry*" but forget that. I forgot all about it.