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A Humbling experience

by:Matt Jones12/06/05

There are some people out there who may think that the purpose of this blog is only to have commentary about UK athletics and news tidbits that are both informative and on topic. I dont like these people. For my purposes, this blog will do those things but it also much more. It is a chance for me to write stories and produce the rambling thoughts of my mind, even when they are of no interest to anyone but me. This may be one of those times.

Tonight, while watching an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, I realized that I knew no one who loved Raymond including myself. Nevetheless I was spending my evening staring at him and his idiotic older brother, wasting away my time. I decided I needed to do something different, something revolutionary. So I went and played basketball.

It had been nine months since I last picked up a basketball, enough time to have a baby and lose a jump shot, so I approached the Golds Gym on Palomar with a bit of trepidation. What if everyone was too good for me? What if I had lost a step? What if the game had passed me by? The thought of such travesties made me question my decision to not hold out for Seinfeld and stay home, but I nevertheless gracefully moved past all the ‘roid heads moving massive amounts of metal that seemed to be enjoying its stationary place on the ground fine enough and headed to the gym.

Now if you havent followed my basketball career, and it likely is the case that you havent, there are really three highlights to remember:

(1) My Sophomore year of high school when I hit a shot at the buzzer from about 30 feet on the road against Lynn Camp to insure that we were able to eke out a victory by 28 instead of the very lame score of 25.

(2) My senior year of college in my last game of intramural basketball when I hit a game-winning jumper to beat my arch nemesis the Kappa Alpha Order B Team in the B League Intramural Semifinals, thus insuring that my fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi could proudly say that we were more than just a bunch of dorks, we had a mediocre basketball team as well.

(3) The crown jewel of my basketball life, the performance in the Washington DC Recreational League when I went off for 40 points against a team led by Tony “Stat Boy” Reali from Pardon the Interruption ( a Class A jerk). It was a performance that truly transcended the imagination as I went from being the only white player on the team who was best known for throwing decent lob passes and providing comic fodder during my attempts at dunks, to an actual scoring threat, hitting 8 three pointers in a game that virtually everyone who saw cannot imagine actually happened. I had not scored 40 points in a game since NBA Live 95 and I am still shocked to this day how it happened. But luckily for me, the thought is ingrained in the mind of Stat Boy.

Now after that last performance, my team won the DC Rec League title, thanks in large part to my decision to stock plenty of Gatorade before every contest and run a very clean layup line. With that victory, I decided to limit my basketball career and have played only sporadically since. Due to my move to Lexington, my new job and the start of this show, time for basketball has been preciously short (like Rob’s attention span) and thus this would be my triumphant return…..not so much in a Muhammad Ali after the draft evasion charge was dropped but more like Mike Tyson after he lost his last dollar playing dominoes in Central Park.

When I walked into the gym, I saw what everyone who plays basketball with guys over 25 know very well. Everyone in the gym is (a) a little fat, (b) a little slow, (c) a little loud and (d) a LOT sweaty. I dont really deal with sweat well and have never really done it very often, in large part because it messes up my hair. Thus I really dont like to rub up against other sweaty guys, especially when many of them are hairy and shedding. But these are the sacrifices we have to make for our craft.

I started the game very slowly. My first three barely nicked the rim, my first layup attempt was Woo-esque, going over the rim and leaving my teammates groaning and my first shot was actually to the face from the opposing team when a guy fell backwards and allowed his elbow to meet my nose. Things were a bit rocky. However slowly I gained my speed and began doing what I always do in games like this, where no one plays defense and everyone makes lame attempts at fast breaks and needless threes. I rebounded (in part because I am tall and in part because everyone else didnt try) and guarded my man, a fact that seemed to truly annoy him. My attempt at trying slowly made me the butt of mockery with one guy saying, “look at the guy with the floppy hair….why is he hustling?”

At the end of the day, my team lost, and rather than wait for another game, I headed to “Cardio Cinema” which was showing “Kindergarten Cop”, a perfect film to view while attempting to run in the dark. I am not sure whether to return to the court, but I know I need a bit of work. The problem is that there is a marathon of Green Acres this week, so it is likely that there will be little chance for me to polish my skills. Oh well, I can always take solace that no matter how bad I am, Rob is worse.

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