Tuesday, April 5, 2011



I just returned from the basketball courts. I never go to play, only to watch and wish I could play. There was a good, competitive game unfolding. The rules at this park are simple: games are up to 15 with one and two-pointers, win by 2, game ends at 21. The locals always have good, competitive games against each other. No one tries to hurt anyone, except their feelings. Hard fouls are as welcome as a give-and-go lay-up. It is easy to be embarrassed out here, although no one would acknowledge it. I wish I could get a game.

This particular game featured two visitors. It is always exciting when new comp arrives at this park. Because there are so many regulars, new players stick out like sore pinkies. These two also welcomed the expected scrutiny. They are playground veterans too, no matter what you think. No one playing in this game was in foreign territory. The court is the same size around the world.

After a series of dipsy-dos and dunkeroos, three-point splashes and penetrating gashes, shot swats and ankle locks, the park was aware: these two can hoop. It did not matter that neither fit the profile. A lanky, pestering defensive gnat of a giant who could not hit a jumper to save his pierced eyebrow and a modest, light-skinned vanilla swirl, albeit with a milky smooth left-handed jump shot from anywhere on the court, both players knew how to play the game. Neither tried to do too much, and each did what was needed to win.

I forgot who won that game. A couple games later, the best player in the neighborhood showed up. His name is Michael Gordon. Luckily, I know his sister and he owes me some favors. He picks me up to play on his team, along with the pierced, tattooed dude. The other team picks up the lefty Larry Bird. Of course, we won. Michael’s teams never lose. We won six games that day: three in a row, then Mike had to go to the store for some Gatorade, so we lost twice, then he returned, and we won three more in a row.

I’ll always remember the day I finally got the chance to run on my neighborhood court.

This reminds me: Congratulations to Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin, and the entire 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class!

It is, undoubtedly, a well-deserved honor.


The MLB season started last week, reminding me that the NCAA women’s basketball tournament is coming to a close, which reminds me: Skylar Diggins is pretty good.

Her long brown hair, black eyes, and beautiful lips will surely bring a new fan base to a WNBA arena near you. This is in addition to her court-vision, scoring, and leadership she has displayed all season…

OK, I’m lying.

I happened across Sunday night’s women’s NCAA Final Four while engaging in some serious semi-professional channel surfing. My options at the time were dwindled down to Baseball Tonight, Dallas-Portland on the League Pass, and Real Housewives of Orange County. R.H.O.C. was on commercial break, so I set adrift to a national semi-final, which is exciting regardless of the sport.

Immediately, I see a streaking dart of energy slicing through the middle of the court-her striking good looks capture my attention at this point- on her way to a cagey short jump shot in the paint-she’s pretty good, for a girl, is my next reaction.

I notice the score and change channels.

I miss her already.

I turn the game back on and throw the remote on the couch. All of a sudden, this model in sneakers is taking the game over. Shots, lay-ups, assists, defense, point-guard leadership, she is awesome. I hear she is only a sophomore. Wow. An All-American too. Wow, again.

Google Skylar Diggins: Gatorade National High-School Player of the Year in 2009. Incredible.

Here’s hoping Texas A&M wins the 2011 National title; Miami Hurricane fans will tell you why. But here’s hoping Skylar Diggins plays another magnificent game while she adds to what should be a long career on the court.

This is not to say that women’s basketball needs some hooping hotties to draw more fans, but it is. Not for me. I appreciate the women’s game. I scrimmaged versus my college’s women’s team. They can play. It is played below the rim, and is the epitome of team basketball. Unfortunately, in order to attract more of a male audience, good looking ladies will need to grace the floors, and not just to lead cheers.

This is not to say that there are not too many lookers in the league now, but it is. Not for me. I appreciate the beauty on display any given night during the WNBA journey. I dated a basketball player for a while. She looked great on and off the court. Unfortunately, they are as rare as a giraffe in the ocean.

I hope the WNBA, and women’s basketball in general, makes strides in the areas it lacks. Otherwise, I will be resigned to watching nothing but nine innings of posing and posturing for the camera while trying to outthink the opponent with a bat and glove, also known as MLB.

Thanks to Skylar Diggins, however, there is at least one more game to watch.

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