G (17) has been playing basketball for about a year and in addition to his planned career as rock n roll hero has decided he is going to be a pro dunker too.
On a recent Sunday, there was a basketball fest for local high schools, so E and I went along to watch G do his Michael Jordan thing.
Alarm bells rang before the game started as the two teams took to the court.
The opposition, a school from nearby T, sporting smart green kit, launched themselves into warmup drills of military precision and complexity while chanting things of, well, military precision and complexity. It struck me as a display of martial prowess and discipline and an act designed to intimidate any opponent. Nara’s version of the Haka, perhaps. It intimidated me, and I wasn’t even playing. There also seemed to be about three times as many in the T squad as G’s squad which sloped onto the court, all attitude and bad-boy haircuts and wearing punk t-shirts. I thought the punk shirts were the team kit until I realised they were just wearing them to disguise how pristine and clean their mum’s had made their kit.
G’s team is in for a thrashing, I thought, and parental prescience was spot on again as the military machine from T went scores up in what felt like seconds.
G, the biggest on his team, was sterling in blocking the opposition, dragging, shoving and pushing and giving away more points through fouls than all the other players on both teams combined. Confusingly, he played the same way on offence as he did in defence, harassing and shoving the opposition defenders rather than watching the ball and trying to evade them to score baskets.
His idiosyncratic style extended to an aversion for possession. If anyone had the temerity to pass to him, he would pass on within a stride. It seemed that actually holding the ball got in the way of the pushing and blocking.
The difference in the two teams showed even during the time outs (what is the correct bb terms for those breaks in play? Tiffin?). At each stop, the guys and gals on the bench for the green team leapt from their seats so the players could sit down. They made a semi-circle and fanned their resting players with towels and fans while the coach harangued them for scoring lots of baskets but … but what I couldn’t figure.
No one on the benches stood for G’s team. The team may as well have fanned those on the bench and the ‘coach’ (quotes explained in a sec) seemed to be saying — from his chair — ‘you lose some, you really lose some’.
The game went on and the green team revealed a knack for bouncing the ball off the heads of G’s team and into the basket.
The score-keeper for G’s team went into a sort of catatonia, and when they did get the occasional basket he would usually fail to notice until the other score keeper had jabbed him into flipping over the numbers. The green team also showed a talent for getting revenge on G’s odd confrontational style of playing by sticking elbows into him whenever they could but without infracting the rules. Well into the second half I learned from E that the ‘coach’ of G’s team had never played, knew nothing about the sport and wasn’t a bit interested in it. He wasn’t, as such, the coach, and nor did the team have anyone to fit that description. The ‘coach’ was a teacher who had to be there, because someone had to be. He was basically the driver and chief smoker of cigarettes. Whatever G’s team knew about the sport they had picked up from the seniors in the school.
G has opined many a time that if could actually watch the professional game on telly, he might learn something. I hadn’t realised until today that the TV was likely the only coaching he was going to get.
I won’t say G’s team was thrashed. More hounded to extinction.
Everyone has been too polite to remember the actual final score, but it was in the (basket)ball park of 40 to 130. G did get one basket so he’s that much closer to a professional career.
I don’t want to be a parental poo-poo, but better stick to the day job, I told him later. Stick to the rock n roll and the drumming. That’s where your true talent for hitting things becomes useful.