I have had a resurgence the past month and actually resemble a real basketball player at this point. I have averaged 16 and 4 the past 3 games and we picked up 2 crucial wins. The most recent game was especially fun because the crowd was really into it. It was tight pretty much the whole way and featured a few memorable moments. The first came in the 3rd quarter after we had finally built up a little momentum and seized a 2 point lead. Then they came down and our big guy got called for a foul. This guy is pretty much the Rasheed Wallace of the league. He definitely has accumulated enough techs and pissed off enough refs to become a target for their calls. As I have noted before the refs here are remarkably awful, but the disrespect our big man shows is still over the top. Every single call is greeted with a gasp of exasperation and a flail of the arms followed by him charging after the ref to complain. Earlier in the year we had a friendly scrimmage with a nearby team, and we brought a single ref just to make it more realistic. In an empty gym during a meaningless scrimmage this guy managed to get a double tech and thrown off the premises. When he showered and came back to the stands to watch the ref stopped the game and demanded that he leave the gym. Our coach talked the ref down a little bit and our guy was allowed to stay, but it just shows you what kind of ill will this guy has built up with the ref community. Anyway, immediately after this particular foul the whole team surrounded him trying to calm him down, but as he was getting subbed out of the game he was able to hurl enough un-repeatable words in the refs direction to warrant getting a technical.
As they are shooting the technical free throws I hear the crowd go crazy and see our coach slowly walking across the court and out of the gym. At this point no one knows what the hell is going on. The other team had four free throws and the ball, our lead is gone, the crowd is in a frenzy and we think our coach has been ejected. I was pretty damn confused.
Turns out our coach was just having some terrible stomach issues and had to go to the bathroom immediately. I can’t relate to that at all, but it must be a terrible feeling. So eventually our coach returns and we settle down a bit. It gets to where we are up 5 with a minute left. Our shooting guard takes a shot, and instead of going back to defense like my coach constantly yells at me to do, I decide to go for the rebound. I come up with it and feel like the man as I back it out and get ready to play keep away till they foul us. I lobbed a ball to one of the forwards as the trap came, only to see another teammate make a move for the ball as if it was intended for him. Of course this startled teammate number 1, which led to some confusion. But thank god one of them realized the importance of the situation and went up to grab the pass. O wait, that’s what should have happened if these people had an ounce of common sense. In reality, neither made a play for the ball and it sailed out of bounds. They come down and get a quick bucket and we go from up 5 with a fresh shot clock to up 3 with the all the pressure on us. I felt the pressure in particular because if we lost a lot of the blame would be on me because of that turnover. We broke the press, I got fouled, and made both. They came down and scored immediately, and I got fouled again.
This time before the free throws, amidst all the shit talking the other team was using to psych me out, their point guard offered me a high five. It was instinct to reach out my hand to reciprocate, maybe he felt bad for the hard foul they just committed. That’s when he unleashed the hardest hand slap he could possibly muster, which left me with a stinging shooting hand right as the ref is bouncing me the ball. As shocked as I was I could still appreciate the cleverness of that move. I am definitely going to try that at some point. Thank god I made them both anyway. The game finally felt secure, but they were not done, hitting a 3 to cut the lead to 2 with 8 seconds left. I got fouled yet again, and was in no mood for high fives as I got to the line. I hit the first and missed the second. They came down and missed a desperation 3, and that was it. The first 30 seconds after the buzzer all I got was a bunch of flak for not fouling to prevent them from getting the three up, as if I was the only one who could have made the play, but eventually people stopped caring and we reveled in the victory.
It was a far cry from how I had been feeling post game most of the year, so I enjoyed the moment. I give all the credit to the bright red NBA socks with blue headband combo I decided to break out for the game. I got about 5 “Are you really going to where that?” comments when I unveiled the headband, but afterward people were hailing it as good luck. Just when I was starting to think what I wore did not affect my performance, my faith was reaffirmed.
I also want to take a second to rant about the state of my apartment. First off, the washing machine that was functioning for all of 3 weeks is still sitting in its room, doorless and in a state of disrepair. With the new warm weather the birds are back in force, belting out their grunts throughout the day. Furthermore, not only did the bathroom light go out, when I tried to replace it the whole structure where it screws in came off the wall. And it’s not like I can just pop it back in, the whole thing is rotted out, crumbling and destroyed. Thus I have been shaving and showering in the dark, which is not that cool, even though it’s kinda fun to basically shave blind and then check out how well you did in the light after. We all know how tough my thick, grizzly beard is to maintain. The bathrooms last fault is its faucet. One day it just decided to go from having a normal, smooth water flow to spraying the water out in the most haphazard fashion imaginable. It literally goes in all directions. Half the time I bend down to spit my toothpaste out I get hit in the eye. I’ve learned how to use just enough power so that the flying water-shrapnel is kept to a minimum, but it is annoying nonetheless.
Also, one of the two kitchen lights no longer comes on, it just flickers. It is one of those long fluorescent looking bulbs, which I have no idea how to replace. I never knew how annoying and eerie a flickering light can be. Combine that with my fridges penchant for emitting a low rumble simultaneously with a higher pitched whine, 24 hours a day, and you have the makings of one disturbing kitchen. I have to keep my eyes down and my iPod in whenever I go in there lest I feel like I am in some sort of alien interrogation room.
And what happens when I bring this stuff up to our manager in charge of fixing such things? Our conversations go something like this:
“Haha, we just need to take a grenade in their and blow it up! Am I right?”
“Um ya, funny, but my faucet is really messed up.”
“Haa, these apartments are crazy!”
Then he usually wanders off pretending to do something important. I guess they figure it’s not worth it to fix minor things for the last month and a half.
I’ll end on a funny Brian the American from Miami is bafflingly dumb story:
We are out eating with one of our coaches, and he goes:
“Hey Drew, I was trying to renew my Skype but it won’t work.”
“Ok, why not?”
“Well, what do I put for Cardholder Name? Is it like Visa? Cause I have been putting Visa.”
“No man, thats your name, or whoever owns the card.”
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, wow, ya man that was dumb.”
Are you kidding me?!?!?!? It took all I had to not start laughing or making fun of him. I literally could not believe what I was hearing. Ha, I’m glad we have been getting along better lately and that I could help him through his problem, but come on man, get a clue.
That’s all for now.