Monday, September 15, 2014

The Extra Pass

You're open, but somebody has it better. You're path looks clear, but someone else's path is better. The anticipation, the patience, & the motion. All these make the action a lesson to those who understand the game, but it's the purpose that causes it to be the most beautiful part of the game; The Extra Pass.

We don't have to take it, give it away, or even accept it in a part of our game, but those who understand the concept already know more than those that don't.

When I have the ball I generally try to drive the lane, and I have three moves I go toward; kick back out, push for a layup, or step back and fade. I generally fade. I'm a simple player. Those who integrate the style of play where the ball is used as a weapon and they space the floor to get the best possible shot, they make the game easy or so the illusion makes it seem.

There are times where we have an easy bucket in front of us, but we recognize the coverage and anticipate a way out. We make the pass that we know we don't need to make, but it exemplifies that small spark that the game keeps reminding us, there's more than just you.

There's five players on the floor. When all execute a system that doesn't involve a single ego, you see fluidity that rarely is displayed in other facets of life. Selflessness, understanding, sacrifice, awareness, and appreciation. Life lessons all in a split second.

Without the extra pass in life, there's no way we evolve. Our ability to grasp other ideals, opinions, and perspectives would become mute. Our love and respect would wilt, and our surroundings of other ingenuities would become insignificant. Others around us would see us as a great player, but also somebody unwilling to look and take another position. Our simplicity would become exposed, and out flexibility would shrink.

As I run through life, and come across many half-court sets, I hope to find a system that incorporates the extra pass. For it's the purpose, complexity, and beauty of life that I seek. Not the simple, and praise driven way. The extra pass is silent, simple, and grows a much bigger garden than the one great plant over arching the rest. It's simple, yet complex, because those willing to step outside of the glory to give it to others, is something hardly noticed today. Something that doesn't go noticed, doesn't mean it won't improve and make the light brighter in other area's on the court of life.

Make the extra pass.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Heated Feet

The clamoring of the feet, the jawing of the opponent, and the ankle support we all need after a blacktop affair. The one thing we can all relate towards, whether it’s sports or hard work, heated feet are something we either relish or we limp on. Blisters, rashes, and perpetual stinging are the only thing that has tough actin’ tinactin screaming its name. The constant quick cut of a defensive shift, a deep key cut to either drive the lane or pull up from 15 feet, the heated feet always chatter in the back of our minds.

Why let it talk? Why let it speak to our toughness and allow us the ultimately decide our fate when it's just a layer of skin facing an assault of constant sock warmth creating the skin to bubble? Let it burst, let it bleed, or let your man take it to the hole for another deuce that you can't afford to let him take again.

The game will keep itself warm, but if you let the heat get to you, might as well call it a wrap because your mind has already checked out hours ago. We can't let what's going on below our ankles dictate what's going on in our mind. It isn't the shoes, it isn't the way your shoes are tied, let's face it, look in the mirror.

The true answers lay in you to decide whether those heated feet deserve to bleed, how many layers of skin are you willing to lose? Are you willing to fight to the bone, or are you as shallow as that first layer of skin? From what it looks you're willing to let the heat get to you. Nothing wrong with taking a break postgame, but at this split second, you have a defensive place you need to be, a hop step, or a landing position that will tear a layer of skin whether you like it or not. The only question is now, is it the team you are willing to fight for, or is it that layer of skin that's screaming at you to slow it down. Shallow or deep, we'll find a way to swim, but in this instance, the blister losses, for love will always prevail through to the bone.

My Vibe

Yes. You're wondering why I'm finally coming back to this. This is the game I truly deeply love and that I have found a new way to write about something I plan on getting back to. This sport, this game, just the ball itself; It's my vibe. The motion, the passion, the feeling of the twine that the sound flows through your body when a perfect shot sinks the bottom of the net. This is my sanctuary, and I have forsaken it. I can see the light, and I know that the light will be brighter. I know that every shot will bring a better timeframe than the timeframe from before. That the next layup, pump fake, and fade away jumper will revive the strength that I need to take another out in this place we call the real world, for it hasn't been safe for some, but for the strength we need to grasp for this real world, we need to run just one more suicide, for we won't commit it for the love of others.

The sanctuary has been dimly lit for too long. The bouncing rubber on the pavement, the echo of the screeching sneakers on top of the damp pavement in the misty fog, it's growing stronger by the step. The jump, the lift, the release; the only answer is the clang, the swish, the gong of the backboard, or nothing at all. But somehow it restores our faith in what hasn't been righteous, what we don't find safe, where we fear to return to. We look for the compassion and the attention from others, but we know that's not going to come. It's the repeated process of our incestuous will to keep throwing the rubber at the iron.

The multiple ways of throwing the ball feels different every time even when it looks the same to others. It feels like water from the ground up at one moment, the next it feels like a cold silver spoon laid upon a shoulder as our feet leave the floor to release the ball. Shuffling the feet, it feels like that is happening. Jitters feel constant and swift on many occasions, but the fullness of the ball leaving our hands feels similar to watching our loved ones leave us once again. On to the next one, as Jay-Z runs through our brains.

When the practice is in session, the jumper is fluid at first. It feels fresh. Then the sensation of tense and length of time between the last time I did this creeps in. How come I didn't stick with this? How come I didn't stay with this when I was younger? Why did I waste my talent when I had the opportunity in front of my face? It was hand given to me and I laughed in the faces of others who truly saw the potential I possessed. I start to reminisce and frustrate at my own failures; jumper 493 is released at this point.

The motion is the same every time, but it always feel different. It never feels consistent, even when the ball goes in the same way over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over... the satisfaction doesn't settle and my mind wonders again. I feel the importance lays somewhere else, that my life will become fluid in some other field, that I'll never be good enough to ultimately do what I want to do with my life. It's like a jumper, it'll be beautiful, but that the people behind the puppets will be nothing but foolery and petty.

The motion, fluidity of the arms, the arc of the ball, the angle of the shot, the following of the shot, it grows dull with time as it feels when I release the same thing as I have since I was 7. The same result I expect, the relief I look for, the attention that doesn't exist that I expect to be there, it won't ever come. I'll die shooting the jumper, but I won't expand my game unless I open up my options, unless I find a way to be taught, but I love the jumper... because It's all I know.

It's where I've received my praises, it's safe, relieves me from the feelings of regret, escaped me from the pain I once felt, the pain I never want to go home to, the hard concrete where those jumpers were born is where I would rather sleep, where I would rather live, where I would rather die. There's shelter in that concrete, there's love, passion, solidification that I strive to plant my stick so that everybody knows I come to fight with my guns blazing when everybody else is in a knife fight in the middle of the paint. I'm the outlet, the corner, the escape route, the Plan Z. All I want to do is help.

If all I did was run up and down the court, get the ball once and let it go, the clang, the bong off the backboard, or nothing would be fine with me, but my teammates minds would differ. In a game, the feeling of empty... the lack of confidence creeps in, the water legs, and especially empty energy flows when I let it go from the corner for where my cornerstone doesn't exist. That moment, when I'm open in the game, I'm not free. I'm confined. For my whole life leading to that moment has been filled with hostility, threat, and insecurity of what's flowing through my mind, all in that split second. For the game, the life, that I love has all been confined and set up in a particular manner that I know I'm prepared to take on, but for I ultimately don't know what to expect. Even though I've been getting ready for that moment over thousands of times, yet the failure of the moment strikes me as the option I ultimately choose to take.

I choose my vibe. I choose to do what has kept me in high spirits in my mind. New Balance shoes. Old Shorts. A White Shirt. A Crusty piece of rubber between my hands, once again thrown in a way that many would claim as beauty, I would claim to be "it is what it is." It's all I know in my trying times. It's my vibe.

[I wrote this listening to Kendrick Lamar's: Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe.]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Take 'em baseline. Run 'em. Ball screen. Fade away. Jump hook. Dunk master flex. The terms that define the game we love. The art work they instill only brings out the very best in creating description and teaching of this most influential team oriented game. How can we improve upon these phrases to make the game more powerful then we could ever imagine? KitKat, a chocolate wafer candy bar that only spells one thing through our media driven minds; Gimme a break.

When you're on the end of a three on one and those three players are coming at you full speed without the ball touching the floor, all you can do is press. Don't worry about the precision of their ability to wear down your lack of hustle, merely take it as a challenge to put forth your 110% and stretch it to 111%. The goal is to put the ball in the hoop, drive the rack, get fouled, and stop the clock to give your guys a chance to rest. That's where KitKat should come in.

This term shouldn't be elevated on the playground or on moments of weakness towards the officials, the term should be elevated during a sense of urgency to project more effort that could be put forth for the entire team.

Think about the commercial, the ingenuity, and creativeness about the commercial the candy bar displayed. "Break me off a piece of that KitKat bar." Break = Run out on the break, get to the hoop, help out your team. The goal of this term shouldn't lazily refer to running a 2-3 zone when the defense needs a break or run iso for the star player to put up an and1 mixtape. KitKat should be running out on the break, driving to the hoop, and being aggressive to assure oneself of getting to the charity stripe.

Life shouldn't be about breaks, it should be about making breaks. KitKat; Earn your break.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Too Scared to Drive

It's the fear of the height, the crash, and the block. The clogged center of the paint that only real warriors aspire to flee. It's an anomaly that constantly requires grit and dirty work to earn the easy two... But, define "easy." That definition lies between a 15 foot lane that is the difference between a poster and a prodigy. An area where legend can grow or wilt, become hammered or slashed, picked or poisoned. It can be the fast lane or the lane of 5 o'clock traffic. Either way, some people are just too scared to drive.

The step back shooters, fade away lifers, and the live and die three-point heavers all have this worry of the drive. They fail to take on the consequences of the easy bucket and lack the guts of driving it in towards the defense. These guys may not have the skills to take the 2-3 dribbles to penetrate this portion of the floor, but most of the time it is fear. They can't take the bruises or the opportunity to open up the floor for their teammates. The thought of doing something so selfless clearly irks their style of play, but what ever pays the bills right? We all know who these guys are and we know their passion is only part time for what this game provides.

I used to be that guy. The step back, fall away jumper, Oo-&Aw the crowd guy with his white man composition as though I don't belong. But I try to drive more often, knowing my teammates will be ready and available to make the next best percentage play. It takes time to accept this challenge, to be a man and understand that % > 3's & Glamour. Knowing that bruises build character instead of lifting three's on the break. Where a slashing cut and a two foot bounce pass can stop a defense on a dime instead of swinging it on the perimeter, waiting for something to happen.

Driving can help eliminate this stagnant style of play, making the game more colorful than it has become. Three-pointers have become parallel to obesity in this country where lethargic habits become the norm. The ones that make these habits ordinary may never find critical thinking as an important entity in their pursuit of life. Driving can only open ones mind helping us understand how the other five guys will react. Adjustment will come later, but the drive will force the comfort to dissipate and make scrambled eggs sunny side up.

So I challenge you to drive the lane, make an attempt to get out of your comfort zone, and help your team win the game by opening up another door. Three-pointers are nice, but they are like having too much fast-food; the more you shoot, the shorter you live. Drive the lane, take the pain, and push fear out of the passengers seat.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Playground

Ever since you were a little kid you have known about the playground. You know that recess time fills up your nostrils full of fresh grass, wet pavement, and gravel that only reminds you of opportunity awaiting you in your own curious state of youth. The playground is the one place you know of that provides the serenity, peace, and safe haven that allows our youth to develop by role playing and frolicking to their hearts desire.

There is also another sense of sound in the playground that can only be matched by the competitive spirit or just the simple game of horse. The sound of a bouncing rubber object in the distance, the clanging or crashing of the iron or metal, the swoosh of the nylon or clink of the chains, and the constant pitter patter of sneakers scrapping along the pavement. This playground is for finesse, fickle, and fortitude. Only the best ballers will survive. This version of the playground requires determination, max effort, and a place where legend is born. This is basketball at its best.

There are the stragglers, the lolly gagers, and the old men with perfect fundamentals, but this sanctuary is a place for the diverse, the accepting, and the best memories. On rainy days there have been fadeaway's that have won ballgames right before dinner was called, catch and shoot corner daggers on scorching afternoons, and soft rim attacking layups with an "Oh Baby" attached for good measure. Not everyone here goes pro, but some think they can. Some do have facets that pro's might wish they had, but this place isn't built for that. The playground is a place to stand your ground, a place to show that you have what it takes to compete and the best part is, it never fades.

This is the place where equality exists, where it thrives, where real life takes a backseat. No color, no money, no fame, and no name is ever guaranteed a warm welcome. Real game speaks here, while real talk echo's. The passion and fairness of the game exists while the real referees sit on the sidelines. Nobody calls fouls on a real blacktop. Go to the hole, get close-lined by Big Mike in the paint, get up, run back down court, play defense. Dap it up during a dead ball and move on. The way the game was meant to be played; hard, physical, aggressive, but with mutual respect understanding that the ball was the target.

The playground can be unforgiving, but at the end of the day, only you can make the decisions. The sanctuary is laid out, the stones are aligned, and the ball is in your court. Whether its life or a game, make the best of your opportunities and always give your very best. While the children play and their sounds billow in the blustery winds, you feel the rock in your hands, the pavement between your leather, and 9 guys around you, waiting for you to make a decision.


The playground doesn't wait.