Monday, March 10, 2008

Things I Like, Part 1: Basketball

Basketball was probably the first cultural morsel I savored and developed a taste for when I initially emigrated to the United States. It was my leap into American culture. Granted, basketball was invented by a Canadian, but at the time the NBA was still quintessentially an American-dominated league with few international players to speak of.

I definitely bought in at the right time, in 1990 Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls began their campaign of domination through the decade that got them six championships in eight years. In that time, there was a seven year stretch that I watched every single game the Bulls played, home or away, thanks in part to Chicago's WGN which carried all the games that weren't otherwise televised on NBC or TNT.

When the Bulls weren't playing, I would watch other teams. I could name every player in the league and give you their height and weight and a close approximation of their statistics. I knew every nickname, from Charles "The Round Mound Of Rebound" Barkley (also known as "Sir Charles") to Dominique "The Human Highlight Film" Wilkins to Xavier "X-Man" McDaniel. I had t-shirts, posters and all sorts of paraphernalia associated with the Bulls.

On top of that, I would spend two to three hours playing ball every day, perhaps recreating scenarios I had seen on television the night before. I played at school, on the driveway at home, on the playground and at the Bellevue Community Center any chance I got.

I was a basketball junkie.

Eventually, other typical teenage activities --playing guitar, driving aimlessly, staring longingly at girls, hanging out in parks, watching my friends do drugs, etc.-- won my attention away from b-ball, but I always kept an oblique eye on what was going on in the NBA in the subsequent years.

Recently, the league has recaptured my attention and while I can no longer name every player in the league, I find great joy from watching a good game of basketball again. My ties to the Chicago Bulls were severed with MJ's retirement (the second retirement...not the first, when he started playing minor league baseball...or the third, when he was a Washington Wizard), so now I can watch without too much emotional involvement.

However, I have found favor for the Detroit Pistons since their championship run in 2004 for their pure brand of selfless team play and I also think the Phoenix Suns are fun to watch (although not so much since Shaq's arrival). I'm also amazed at how LeBron James has actually managed to exceed the already high expectation he faced coming in the league at just eighteen years of age and how Kobe Bryant looks more and more like Jordan every year, even down to his mannerisms on the court.

Lately, I've also felt a serious need to play again but I've yet to locate a public court around where I live or someone to play with. I need to do this soon because I find myself going through the motion of shooting jumpshots and lay-ups in my head sometimes. And as homoerotic as this may sound, I miss the physical contact that goes along with playing the game. Getting knocked around and colliding with other bodies in the heat of competition is just something men need to do sometimes; it's innate and deep-seated into our psyche. Adrienne points this out to me every time I try to roughhouse with her and she's just not having it.

I just need someone to bump up against, is that too much to ask? Is it too gay to ask?

Well, I'm asking anyways.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...