During the second half of my second year in Israel, I was relegated to the bench. I wasn’t a sixth man. I was the last man. Well, maybe I was just above the 17-year-old who was in the army and was only there half the time. But I certainly wasn’t playing. I’d never been a bench warmer. While it was miserable at the time, I learned a lot. Like how sometimes you just have to deal with an “unfair” situation. You have no right to become an obnoxious, negative, sarcastic practical joker just because you think you’ve been slighted. That’s … Continue reading Don’t Be the Benchwarmer Everyone Hates
About a month ago, I decided that I was moving out of Los Angeles. Everyone I’ve told has been surprised. The surprise turns to shock when I say I’m moving to Wisconsin.
The bewilderment stems from the fact that people in LA know the following things about Wisconsin:
1. It’s cold
2. The Green Bay Packers
4. “Really, do you know how cold it is there?”
5. Jeffrey Dahmer
You can see how convincing people of Wisconsin’s merits is an uphill battle. I wouldn’t move there if I thought all I’d be doing is shivering in my apartment, watching football, pounding string cheese and keeping an eye out for serial killers.
But, even if it wasn’t Wisconsin, I’d still be moving. So before I extol the virtues of the midwest, I’ll talk about why I’m leaving in the first place. Continue reading “Why I’m Leaving Los Angeles for Wisconsin”
The NBA media can’t shut up about Russell Westbrook’s recent run of play, and for good reason. He’s a beast. His body parts keep exploding, yet he keeps coming back stronger. The basketball gods said “we’re going to ruin Derrick Rose and Westbrook. They’re too good. And we’re assholes.” Rose went down, but Westbrook threw up two middle fingers and continued to rampage through the league. He’s a monster. One of the best players in the league. Yet, he still makes plays like this:
There he is, throwing up an airball. It happens, even to the greats. Thankfully for the Thunder, Enes Kanter grabbed the rebound and put it back in. OR DID HE.
In the next few weeks, I will apply to the HarvardWood mentorship program. HarvardWood may have the douchiest name of any alumni organization in existence, but it’s a great resource for the struggling writer. Not all Harvard grads have instant success when they set out to find a job in the arts. For every B.J. Novak…
There’s a D.A. Housman…
How to get through the day when you work at Hollywood talent agency:
- Show up to your desk in the morning. Realize you forgot to do something the night before. Endure some scolding from your boss.
- Blame your bosses previous assistant for the error, no matter what went wrong. “I’m sorry, I guess _____ never filed that. Some people just don’t respect the job.” (Harder to pull off after you’ve established yourself as average and the previous assistant was amazing. But, as the great Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.)
- Start feeling a little down, because it’s only 10:30 and you’ve already shown your boss how to copy and paste four different times.
- Cheer up, because while you don’t drive a Maserati and own a purebred labradoodle, at least you know how to fucking copy and paste.
- Massage your feet on a golf ball. Don’t worry about the looks you get for being in your socks. Your feet smell great!
- Roll your glutes on a lacrosse ball. Again, discard the wayward looks. Tell them to enjoy having limited mobility their whole life and that you hope medicare pays for their knee replacements. Or, something less mean.
- Tear the right side of your dress pants with the lacrosse ball. Feel foolish. Let a call go to voicemail while you try to fix your pants.
- 45 minutes later, rip the left side of your pants with the lacrosse ball. It’s minor. Shrug it off!
- Stand up. Do full, deep, toe-touch stretches.
- Go to the big bathroom stall for 10 minutes. Do a series of one legged squats and hip stretches. Pause when someone enters to use the stall next to you. Be grateful you can’t smell very well.
- Nervously laugh when you return to your desk and your co-workers start making fun of an “agent” they saw doing squats in the handicap stall. Cover yourself by chiming in about how weird that guy must be.
- See an online advertisement for a car racing game. Feel smug for not playing video games. Then, remember how many hours of your youth were spent playing Cruis’n USA on Nintendo 64.
- Think about Cruis’n USA for a while. Let another call go to voicemail. Contemplate why they chose to spell “Cruis’n” the way they did. Question the sanity of those fans who would stand right behind the finish line while Ferraris skidded toward them at 147 miles per hour.
Basketball players and their coaches have two kinds of relationships:
Blissful and symbiotic –
I know players who loved their coaches, and players who wouldn’t have helped their coaches if they’d found them trapped in a burning car. There’s not really an in-between. It’s a love/hate thing, in my experience.
I thought it’d be interesting to look back on a time in my life when I was convinced my old college coach, Tommy Amaker, was a sadistic person. I truly believed that he was determined to ruin my life and drain me of every last vestige of enjoyment that I could get out of basketball. This should offer a glimpse into the psyche of a college athlete, and allow you to understand how nuanced player-coach relationships can be.
For some context, know that I used to be incredibly bitter regarding stuff that happened in my college basketball career. The more time that passes, and the further I get from the world of organized spots, the more I realize that I was way too myopic/intense/obsessive when it came to basketball. I’m proud of how hard I worked, but holy shit do I wish I could go back in time and swap out a few lifting sessions for some quality time with a therapist. Six-foot-nothing Jewish kids from the suburbs should be thrilled just to be playing college basketball, let alone starting for an Ivy League team.
Also, for what it’s worth, Coach Amaker and I are on great terms these days. I will always be grateful that he took the time to give me a solid recommendation to my team owner during my second year abroad.
So, after my sophomore year of college, the team was summoned to the locker room for a meeting with Frank Sullivan, our head coach at the time. We filed into the locker room and sat in folding chairs while Coach Sullivan paced back and forth, rocking a tight leather jacket. We knew something was up, since he normally wore the same four shirts. Either he was having a three-quarter life crisis and was inviting us on a ride with his new motorcycle gang, or he was no longer a part of the program, and thus no longer gave a shit what he wore. Turned out to be the latter. He told us that the athletic director was letting him go.
As much as that must have sucked for Coach Sullivan, I was excited. Our team was pretty terrible, and I thought some new blood would be good for the program.
To be clear, I never asked for Coach Sullivan to be fired. I didn’t have that power anyway. I was the third fiddle on a team that just finished at the bottom of the standings. It wouldn’t have been like MJ demanding that Doug Collins be ousted.
European basketball coaches, and especially Israeli league coaches, have an obsession with strategic, aggressive fouling. “USE. YOUR. FOWWWWWWWWLS!!!” was easily the most frequent thing I heard during timeouts. The idea was to make the game choppy, take the offense out of its rhythm and prevent fastbreaks. The strategy made a lot of sense to me, but it also represented the most jarring difference in transitioning to the European style of basketball.
Let me quickly say that I always found it interesting that so many Israelis identified as “European.” This was most noticeable in the way they dressed. You looked out of place if you weren’t rocking capri pants, an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt that was two sizes too small, and a faux hawk. But it wasn’t just a look. It was a mindset. I once got into an argument with a teammate after he proclaimed that Israel had “the best doctors in Europe.” I pointed out that we were in the Middle East. He would not budge. “Best doctors in Europe,” he insisted, while taking a drag off a cigarette, chugging some Turkish coffee, and slipping into his Crocs. Continue reading “Why Players Don’t Listen to Their Coaches”