Streetball is the purest form of the game I love. No refs. No flopping. Just grit. Unlike league play, there are no set teams, no predesigned plays, no substitutions or timeouts. You walk onto the court and it’s chaos. Cracked floors, busted rims, and perfect strangers. Some of those strangers become your friends. This article isn’t about those people. This article is about the people we hate.
1. The Blackhole
The Blackhole is the guy on your team who skipped gym class the day you learned the chest pass. When you play with him there’s a weight that grows in your chest as the game goes on. There’s a mass there that grows larger and larger. It’s the slow, then acute realization that you if you pass to him, you’ll never get it back. You might as well sit back and relax because even though the play might not have started with him, it will sure as hell end with him.
2. The “I’m Not Really Trying”
The beauty and the horror of streetball is that it’s a microcosm of the real world. And the real world is full of people who are too cool for school. They watched Good Will Hunting and now they’re convinced that they could do it if they feel like it; they just never feel like it. And by it, I mean play defense and get rebounds.
3. The Kid
Every time you’re playing at the park, there’s always a kid who wants to play. You admire the spirit but the fact of the matter is that he’s just too young and small. You bleeding hearts say give the kid a chance but you never think about the guy who guards him feels. Not only is he a jerk if he actually plays defense, he now has to live with the fact that in his teammates’ eyes, he’s the worst player on the team.
4. The Coach
Everybody wants to be a coach. Everyone has their own idea about how you should play. Where you should stand. When you should shoot. Everyone has an opinion about how far to pull up your shorts. Not everyone will tell you; this guy will. He will micromanage your game and judge all your shots until you go Sprewell on him and choke him out.
5. The Body Odor
He’s that guy no one wants to guard because his smell reminds you of human mortality. He could be the nicest player in the world but something inside of you tells you to hate him. The worst part is that it never stops at the park. The smell haunts you for the whole walk home and it’s there that you realize… you’re infected now too.
6. The Ugly Shot
Nothing makes you madder than an ugly shot that goes in. I can live with an ugly shot that misses. An ugly shot is supposed to miss. You find yourself rooting against your teammate if he shoots weird because, damnit, all those hours refining the J can’t have been for nothing.
7. The Perspirer
Damnit, every time you head to the park with a fresh new shirt on you play against the guy who’s been there for the past hours working up a sweat and making his shirt feel like he just finished losing a middle school water fight. You want to defend him but you can’t do it without feeling like you’re slapping up against a bag of wet laundry.