The score is tied at eleven to eleven, it’s “win by two” rules. There’s unlimited time to the game, but I can feel the eyes from the crowd of young female students next to me.
Their stares singe through me like Sun-rays through clouds. What the mind sees, the eyes say.
” can he ball? ”
” he’s too short”
” I bet he’s terrible ”
A few of the many questions and concerns; their eyes speak to me. I’m not here to impress them, or anyone for that matter. I’m here to observe a road untraveled.
I don’t know everyone, but there are a few personalities here I can express; hopefully giving you a clearer picture of what I see.
First off, Andrew is here. My old high school friend who never excelled at a sport, but was… Competent, and I use that word loosely to describe Andrew. He’s on the ” other ” side of our four courts here at our recreational centre.
The court is shared differently throughout the community.
The first court is normally played on by the youth. It’s the side facing the street, it’s a way of encourages the kids in the community to get out and play.
Courts two and three are where I’m positioned, nicknamed “The Elite” these courts have the highest amount of competition and always tend to be populated. Players anywhere from 19-30 show up here, showcasing their talents for the lovely women, all focused on an unfamiliar brown-skinned male, not suited up in basketball gear, arguing on whether or not Lebron is better than Kobe.
The fourth and final court is the aforementioned ” other ” court. This court hosts all the ballers who are too old to be playing on court one, and or not skilled enough to play at the level of court two and three. Here is where you’ll find Andrew, lighting up the court against sub-par competition. Don’t feel bad for Andrew, it’s where he belongs. Playing on any other court here would be a one-sided affair.
Next up, a kid they call ” Famous”. Maybe I shouldn’t call him a kid, he’s likely older than I am. Famous is the basketball/ football hybrid athlete with too much God-given talent for his own good. Famous excels at both sports and could have done something special with his talents if he didn’t injure his left leg playing street ball in his final year of high school. Many say it wouldn’t have mattered because Famous was also known for his abysmal grades and attendance. Here in Canada, the “student” in ” student athlete” really does come first. Famous now spends his days showing off on the court to the ladies who sit and cheer in the bleachers of courts two and three. He knows all of them on a first name basis, and refers to them all as friends. He’s warming up for the ensuing 3 on 3 game that’s about to start; taking jump shots off of his left leg that will never fully heal.
Prince is notorious for wearing 90’s clothing. I think he sees the court as a runway. Today he’s sporting a Kid n Play high-top, Mickey Mouse puffy wind-breaker, Adidas track pants and matching shoes. He’s also got a boatload of accessories. Prince has a gold ring on every finger, a large, over-compensating fake gold chain around his neck, and a boom-box stereo weighting down one side of his shoulders. It makes me wonder where he found space for the duffle-bag he has strapped around himself. Prince makes his rounds, giving “daps” to every person on courts two and three. I guess the elite only associate with other elite. I’m unsure if Prince is his real name, or if his persona has given life to his identity.
Lastly, is Face. Unlike the other two, I can’t think of a reason why he – or anyone for that matter would be named Face. He stands at about 5’5, pretty gelled hair, and is a self-proclaimed ” slasher ” at least that’s the argument he’s putting up against the rest of the players, as he explains why he cannot dunk the basketball.
” Face, you have no bunnies” one player laughs.
” I’m a slasher, that’s what people know me as” Face replies.
After a few more attempts, Face is unable to dunk the basketball. A few more insults are thrown around the court. Some at Face and his team, others at women in general as one player narrates his own story on how badly he’s been treating one of his ” tings”an accepted derogatory term used to address women in our community. Prince laughs as he straps his Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retro goggles to his face, and pulls up his knee-high socks high above his high-top;Converse All-Stars
I don’t play this sport, but I can appreciate it as a competitive person. I’m not the cookie-cutter black male most people would easily describe. I chose speech over handles, and writing over a spin-move. I occasionally visit this court to see the community I could have to easily been a part of. I thank my mother for giving me the freedom to be my own man, and express myself the way I saw fit.
” We need one more for 4 v 4″ shouts an unfamiliar face
Suddenly, it feels as if the entire world is staring at me, waiting for my next move.