Sunday, March 27, 2011

Basketball Guy

After every school day in high school, I would rush home to listen to the Jim Rome show. Did this lead to a lucrative radio career berating callers or playing fart noises on WEEI? Sadly, it did not.

Nonetheless, Jim Rome cracked me up. One particular bit he did that I will always remember is “Softball Guy.” He would rip on the stereotypical middle-aged man who takes softball way too seriously. You know the type: guy who wears batting gloves, cleats, the stirrup socks, eye black, the whole works. He acts like he’s playing DH for the Yankees, instead of third base at the Irish O’Malley field in Dorchester for Jacko and Sons Plumbing, LLC.

Yesterday, I participated in two full-court basketball games where I witnessed many incarnations of certain Basketball Guys. After years of playing with Bob Knight Hosseini and Nenad Schaible and Kyle Korver Grimala, then playing with the serious types down in South Florida, I believe I’ve accumulated ample expertise to delineate the certain types you’ll find playing any basketball game.

Has this been done before? Sure, but not with my wit and keen insight.

And-One Bloopers Guy

This guy loves to dribble between his legs, juke no one out of his shoes, run the fast break like Marcus Banks and, my favorite, loves to try fancy passes during games. Too bad for him every pass behind the back hits someone in the knee or rolls helplessly out of bounds. This guy popped up numerous times yesterday. One time, I’m Not Steve Nash, who was on my team, had a 3-on-1 fast break, dribbled up the middle and tried a behind-the-back, no-look pass that clanked off someone’s shin and right to the waiting arms of the defender. If you can pull off the Harlem Globetrotters’ moves, then play for the Harlem Globetrotters. If not, then a simple pass will do.

Doesn’t Shut Up Guy

This guy likes to showcase his knowledge of primary colors on defense. “Get White!” “Watch out for Red!” “Watch out for Black!” He calls for the ball on every possession. He complains loudly when he doesn’t get the ball. He yells at people when they miss shots. He’s the guy who makes a loud, random noise in your face when you’re shooting, just to gain that little competitive advantage while also coming across like a giant douche.

Follow the Rules Guy

This guy thinks he’s Dick Bavetta. He never misses a shot on his own, calling for a foul instead. He calls traveling and double-dribbling with such insane bias you’d think he was reffing a Lakers game. He will yell at you for ignoring the Treaty of Versailles. But if you dare call him out for any infractions, prepare for ….

Bitch-and-Moan Guy

He comes in many sizes, but he is impossible to miss because he complains about everything. His testosterone levels are enormous and he’s not on the court to play basketball; he’s on the court to impose his male dominance. I’ve played in pick-up games that were brought to screeching halts for 10 or 15 minutes just by guys arguing at each other. And it’s always the same culprits week after week. Is there anything more pointless than filibustering during a pickup game? Can’t we all just play mediocre, post-Kendrick Perkins Celtic basketball that would make James Naismith wish he’d invented the XFL?

The Chucker

George Costanza is the most famous of this popular species. The chucker believes he or she is Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, firing fade-away threes whenever the balls touches the hand. And yes, I’ve played with a guy who hoists at least four or five fade-away THREES a game.

Yesterday, the chucker was a girl. She had some game, but she took at least 10 threes over two games and each one was a more horrible disaster than the next. Like M. Night Shyamalan movies!! (And the foul!) I cleaned up after her, scoring off these terrible misses several times, enough to really frustrate the other team. “Who’s watching RED!!??!?!” Still, all chuckers, there are four other players on the court. And there’s no shot clock. No need to play like all the idiots in the NCAA tournament who dribble around for thirty seconds and then heave a 30-foot prayer. We’re better than that.

The Midget

One of these yesterday, too. He’s usually a little over 5-feet tall. And he knows he needs to make up for it by being a 7-foot asshole. He will elbow you in the nuts. He will slap you silly. He will do everything he can to annoy the living hell out of you. While one must appreciate the effort, the groin area is important and does not want to be disturbed by sweaty, small male hands. Unless it belongs to a Republican. (And the foul!)

We get it, Danny Woodhead wannabe. You’re a ‘gamer.’ Yesterday, you tried to post me up. Yes, I had at least a foot on you and you were posting me up. Now, my defense in the paint is Situation-trying-to-be-funny abysmal, but still. And you elbowed and scratched and clawed … and you never got the ball because no one wants to throw an entry pass to Tom Cruise.

On the next possession, you tried to sprint for an offense rebound and Steve “The Thin Fundamental” Sears eased right in your path and gave a solid box-out. You audibly groaned when you made contact with my muscular frame. You never did post me up again.

The Old Guy

My college buddies will never forget Bert. Or was it Bird? Anyway, he was an older, rotund gentleman who wore a Larry Bird jersey and, even worse, Larry Bird short shorts. Covering him was like swimming in a pool of his sweat. He donned the goggles and the headbands. Straight outta 1983. He also cherry picked like a mofo, but that’s another story.

Yes, you know you’re in a pickup game when there’s at least one dude in his fifties laboring up and down the court. No, not me. He might not have hair or a working back, but he does have guile. I can’t help but love these guys. They have their set-shots, their muscle-shirts showcasing healthy amounts of chest and/or back hair. They are not afraid to take off said shirts at any time. And if you ever find yourself in a locker room with one, the penis will make a guest appearance.

The Pretty Boy

Oh, he’ll play alright, but not before he applies the hair gel, the very tight black shirt and his new kickin’ sneaks. He thinks he’s way better at basketball than he is. He will be picked before more capable players because he looks like he can play, but then you find out he can barely dribble. He just wants to run around and show off his biceps to the ladies. But unless the Food Network or Bravo starts televising pickup games, ladies won’t be watching.

The Kobe

Our final type. He is the best player on the court. He assumes the leadership position and everything just runs through him. Pickup warriors can usually pick this guy out during warm-ups. He has a steely confidence and focused glare. It’s Game 7 of the Finals and he’s ready to win it all. He is also extremely demanding, unafraid to cuss you out for missing a layup or failing to grab a rebound. He’s like Kobe Bryant, except you don’t necessarily hate this guy. But like Kobe, you need him to win. You just hope he doesn’t try to backstab you to the Colorado police.

I will stop here. There are other types, but I don’t want this to turn in to a Bill Simmons column. There’s the Fundamental Guy Who Does the Little Things (ME!), the Foreigner, the Girl, the Trash Talker and the Ringer. If I missed any big ones, feel free to let me know how stupid I am in the lonely hellscape of my comments section.

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