As you may remember from last time, we left the court pretty self-satisfied â€“ a 3-2 record with our last loss due to a we’re-in-better-shape-than-you thrashing. Armed with fresh legs and growing chemistry, we strutted into the gym ready to take it to the competition. Well all that came to a screeching halt when we had to watch the grandpa crew run the court at two miles per hour.
Part of me couldn’t ignore my blood boiling â€“ at this rate, we weren’t going to get on the court for another hour. They walked the ball up the floor (I’m not one to say that streetball needs a shot clock, but this was bordering on ridiculous. I’m talking Brook Lopez ambling up the court slow.), fouled incessantly and argued every call. But they won twice, and my other half clung to a sliver of respect for their performance. Even writing that sentence felt wrong â€“ but their victories happened, and I still have no idea how. Kind of like the Mavs stealing the title from the Heat. It happened, but I’m struggling for the words to decipher the phenomenon.
So we stood on the sidelines, warming up on a side court and waiting our turn. But know that I’m using the term “warming up” lightly. Because, let’s be honest: No one warms up. After pretending to touch our toes and stretch our triceps, we grab a ball and start. At least that’s what I do. (I can’t remember the last time I actually stretched a muscle.) Most people put up some jumpers, dribble the ball around â€“ nothing spectacular or noteworthy. Just something to get a feel. So here I was, in the middle of that monotonous routine, when another classic pickup figure graced us with his presence; the warm-up champ. I’m talking about the guy who abuses the defense with staggering crossovers, one-footed fadeaways and psychedelic dribbling. Okay fine, there’s no defender. But if there were, he’d have no chance.
I’d venture to say that Andrea Bargnani will average 10 boards per contest before the warm-up champ even attempts to use his warm-up skills on the court. The one I encountered had a specific knack for the annoying. After cruising through his array of absurdly difficult shots, he took his ball and walked right up to the bucket. And thus the lay-up bonanza ensued. Refusing to move to an empty hoop, his two-foot lay-ups deflected other shots left and right. If you want to take shots near the rim, knock yourself out. Just not on a hoop where five other people are shooting.
After 30 minutes, it was time. And to our surprise, the crew of tribal elders still stood strong. Well, they stood. Despite my desire to send them packing, I did preserve an ounce of pity for their one good player. It was clear that he just got stuck on the wrong team. As much as I detest players ganging up in pickup to form an unbeatable team, this was just an unfortunate consequence of the “who’s got next” line.
The game got off to a rocky start as their resident fat guy, straight out of Along Came Polly, kept backing down Mike and shielding him with his enormous width. (If you know what I’m talking about, it was that guy to a T. If you don’t, just trust me. I wouldn’t be making a reference to Along Came Polly unless it was absolutely necessary.) Not to mention that the dude was tall, nasty sweaty and fairly hairy â€“ a terrible combination. Mike’s no pushover, but he was giving up four inches and 100 pounds. So despite our ease scoring at the other end, we found ourselves in the midst of a 4-4 tie thanks to Eddy Curry‘s brother. Fortunately their wheels fell off once we began to push the ball and use our superior athleticism (meaning we could run more than two steps without sucking down air like it was running out). Seven points later, we cruised to an 11-4 win.