or if your more adventurous
Chromeo- Night by Night (Skream mix)
Basicali- I Choose you
Fairfax High stand up!!
In middle school I played with a really good team. However, we had a coach that didn’t quite match with our skill level even for middle school standards.
As games would start he would shake nervously on the bench, gnawing his nails and rocking bad and forth much to our
amusement. We then, like clockwork, due to our towering frontline, win the opening jump ball and more times than not we’d score the first basket of the game within the opening 30 seconds. As the ball was going through the hoop, our coach would jump up from his chair and race furiously over to the scorer’s table and demand a timeout without fail. The referees would furrow their brows in confusion, blow the whistle and we’d race over to the bench.
‘Fellas,’ he’s say with calculated timing. ‘Here is the situation. We scored first, so we are leading this game.’ He’d pause for affect, and look around the bench as if he was delivering the halftime speech in Hoosiers.
‘If we don’t let them score the rest of the game, we win. Gameover.’ We’d look up at the scoreboard. Score: 2-0, 9 minutes 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
We’d play the rest of the game, the final score would be something like 55-42. He would then give us some rousing,
nonsensical speech about what this win meant for our development as men, or for world hunger or something else that was always completely lost on our 13 year brains.
Nevertheless, we’d suit up the next week against another overmatched opponent. The ball would be thrown up, we’d race down and score, then inevitably, we’d turn around and hear, ‘Timeout, timeout…TIMEOUT!!’
Little Dragon-Thunder Love
I’d like to talk a little about the state of basketball here in Britain. I know that there are many more popular spectator sports in England (http://iwishiwasalittlebittaller.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/9/), nevertheless basketball remains widely played, particularly amongst the under 25 age group. An extremely important demographic for the growth of the sport, with the proper facilities this number will increase over time giving kids in London and elsewhere another sporting outlet. However, the facilities remain in shambles, the more time I spend in London I’m appalled at the lack of respectable places to play.
I tried to play a pick-up game last saturday at the Hackney Community College near Old Street which I had heard was one of the best gyms in North London. I must say I was impressed by the facility for London standards, however when I showed up I found 15 guys standing by the entrance because the game had been cancelled. Apparently to play for two hours you have to pay £4. Not ideal, but fair enough, the problem was that players weren’t paying so we were in debt £150 which we couldn’t raise, so we were left staring at an empty court. A scenario which is played out over and over in England because your forced to pay every time you want to use a court. Which I find shocking considering that in the States, Europe, China, everywhere except the UK basketball is so widely played because it’s cheap! Basketball is not supposed to be for the wealthy, that’s the point of the game, they already have tennis, golf, sailing and cricket. If a kid has to come up with £4 everytime he wants to play a game or workout, plus the tube fare home, why would he play?
Anyway after that experience I talked to some people and got to practice with the London Met team in Islington to stay in shape which was great. The problem was the floor wasn’t standard wood floor you would find on a normal basketball court, it was linoleum, or tile or some other material that made me feel as if I was playing on the top of Ayers Rock. I spend the next day soaking my joints and looking for other places with a decent court.
Two days later I discovered a team not too far from where I’m staying that a mate put me on to. I arrived in the middle of their practice, changed quickly and got on the court. Then threw up three straight shots straight off the backboard from three-point range. I then realized the rims were 9 feet tall. Apparently, they installed a new wood floor on top of the existing floor, but didn’t raise the hoops. It was so low I could almost dunk…almost.
Basketball shouldn’t be this hard. Can we built some normal courts, free of charge for the locals to enjoy before we spend billions of pounds on our cycling and rowing teams? Not that I’m against gold medals for Britain, (afterall the GB basketball team was given millions of pounds to improve performance and I’m not complaining) but let’s think long term as well. Chris Hoy’s gold medals, as good as they are for British pride wont keep kids in gyms and out of trouble.
PS- I wrote a letter to the Mayor’s office of London requesting an interview with Boris Johnson on this very subject, they’ll reply within 24 days (random), they said.
PPS- Never the one to bite the hand that feeds me, I wont post it on my blog. But if want a laugh from british commentators doing a basketball game go to http://www.unionversity.com/category/sport , then scroll down to ‘Worst Sports Commentary of all time.’ My personal faves- 00:38, 04:30.
As I write this I am a fugitve from the law.
In Britian, 4 speeding tickets will get your license suspended indefinetely, 5 will get you thrown in jail. I had 7 in 6 weeks. Not because I’m speed racer (36mph in a 30 zone is hardly Lewis Hamilton) but because I’m an idiot. I honestly didn’t realize the light flash I saw everytime I came down Hinckley Road was a speed camera until after I got the 7 tickets in the mail. I thought it was probably a strobe light in the Kebab shop across the street, maybe they do disco nights, who knows? So when I went back to the States in May from Leicester, I assumed that was the end of it since I don’t own a British license.
So Today I got a phone call from the my General Manager in Leicester when I was there last year, ’Flinder, 2 police officers were at your old apartment yesterday. They have a warrant for your arrest. Please call them immediately.’
My run continues, the case remains unsolved.
If you’re at a restaurant and you’re ordering wine and know next to nothing on the subject like most of us. Always order a Bordeaux. Just by saying the word Bordeaux makes you sound 20% more intelligent. Even if you think Bordeaux is a country in the catskill mountains, it doesn’t matter, she is already impressed.
And, if you can follow that up by saying something like, ‘you know because of the arid, provencial conditions, wine grapes from the southwestern slopes of the foothills of Aquitaine ferment at a slightly more torrid pace than grapes from the eastern palette of French colonial fiefdom. This dates back to the Roman conquests of the 15th century and their implementaion of gunpowder and seedless watermelon.’ Of course its all nonsense but say it with a straight face and your half-way home.
So I’m still in London, waiting for the next basketball gig, and in the meantime hunting for alternative or short-term real jobs. Some people wrote me back about the emails I sent out for the freelance writing jobs, saying it helped them to not take the process so seriously. I then sent out a bunch more along the same lines, although without much success. (I’ll post those later)
However all this work talk got me thinking about some of my past jobs, and I be honest I havent worked that much since I’ve been ‘working’ at basketball. But the ones I have had were mostly god awful jobs, two in particular made me hate life so much I would wake up wishing I could contract a rare Amazonian virus just so I would have an excuse to stay home.
One was in my third year of college. Now usually athletes at Universities get the pick of the best jobs, oftentimes ‘court monitor,’ or ‘front desk supervisor’ or some other misnamed title. However, we don’t monitor or supervise anything, we basically sit in a chair, check our email, do some work for a few hours and go home, if that. Well, after doing these jobs for a couple years I wanted to branch out and find something more challenging in a different area of campus. After some interviews I found a slighty better paying job on the other side of campus in the reserved section of the library labelling and categorizing books into the foreign literature section. (The salary was up $1 an hour to $7.50, which in college was like working on wall street and taking home 6 figures, afterall what did I really need money for? a date consisted of the $2 i needed to rent a VHS to watch a movie in my room and all parties were free booze courtesy of the magnanimous Dartmouth frats). The job sounded easy enough, I thought.
It was torturous. The office was in the basement (or dungeon as I liked to call it) with no windows, neon green lights, strict sanitary rules (I had to scrub in before work. It’s a library for christsake not a hospital) and a slave master as my boss. Once when I asked her if I could go to the bathroom (I had to ask by saying ‘Madame…’ she wouldn’t respond otherwise) she said, ‘is it number one or two?’
‘Umm,’ totally perplexed I said, ‘I guess its number one.’
‘Well, just hold it, it’s almost 3, then your finished and you can do whatever you please.’ I looked at the clock…it was 12:45.
I had a quota of some obscene number of books that had to be labeled everyday. I had no idea were all these books came from and why we had so many foreign language books in the first place, were there really students reading Hemingway translated to Swahili (not joking), or the Kama Sutra with captions in Romanian (also not joking).
After three weeks, I had had enough, the extra $15 a week just wasn’t cutting it. During a post-practice meal, I told my friends I was quitting. ‘Quitting is for quitters,’ they said. ‘Get fired, thats the noble thing to do.’ I’m not sure it made sense, in fact it didn’t make any sense, but we laughed all night at the endless possibilities. There were at least 1 million ways to get myself fired.
The next day, I only labelled half of my quota, ate on the job and took frequent bathroom breaks to the dismay of ‘madam,’ yet I still had a job. So the following morning I came in, put my feet on the desk, read the ‘articles’ in Maxim magazine and proceeded to fall asleep. Still, I remained employed, I had to have a better plan.
I was beginning to lose confidence in myself, ‘I couldn’t even get fired properly, whats wrong me with,’ I thought. I needed a creative idea, so I searched my closet and found an old Halloween costume. An 80′s basketball outfit, complete with headband and high socks. I smiled, Tomorrow would be my last day at work.
I arrived at the library, went to the bathroom and changed into my outfit, took a small stereo from my bag and laid it on my desk and blasted ‘eye of the tiger’ on repeat at full volume. Then I did a warm-up 20 minute jog around the foreign literature section before calmly laying down a towel and beginning my stretching routine on the floor in front of my desk. I followed that with 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups. Eventually Madam came over and demanded to know what I thought I was doing. ‘Hold on,’ my breathing quickened, ‘one sec, I only got 5 more reps.’
I stopped, looked up and I could see the steam coming out of her head. ‘Flinder,’ she paused, then said the sweetest two words I could imagine, ‘you’re fired!’ I went home, with a huge smile on my face.
I’m still not sure why I didn’t just quit with dignity. I think a part of me just wanted to see how far I could push her, and part of me wanted to see how far I could push myself. I guess in the end I found my challenge after all.
Check-out this thought provoking blog… particularly the second part.