Summer Recap/Back In Israel

Quick recap of my summer:

I spent May just kind of putzing around doing nothing other than working out with my brother and shooting at the high school.  This actually could be a pretty complete recap of my summer as a whole.  A lot of working out in my front yard, shooting at my high school and watching TV with JD and Catie.  But there were some other interesting things.  I started playing with a semi pro team in the IBL called the LA Lightening.  I was very lukewarm to the idea at first, especially after not playing that much in my first game.  But after a while I got comfortable, the other PG left, and I had my best and most fun stretch of basketball in a long time.  Granted a lot of the teams we played were complete garbage, but there were some pretty solid squads in there too.  Some notable people on my team:

-Bryon Russel (of Jordan shoved him off and hit one of the biggest shots in history fame.)  He is now a gregarious, slightly chubby dude who was fond of joking around with the refs. He would sometimes announce at half time that he was hitting up the buffet, then show up to the bench halfway through the third quarter looking as content as ever.  His game consisted mostly of launching deep threes and grabbing defensive boards.

-Tyus Edney.  He only played in 2 games, but I have to throw him in here just because it was so awesome for me to play with him.  I seriously used to pretend to be him in my front yard.  He is still crazy fast and pretty much un-guardable.  Not that I would really know, seeing as the team did not have one practice the whole summer.  I was not at all upset when 4 hours after our last game in Canada, and after I had done all the laundry because of bs rookie hazing, he told me he had forgot to turn his stuff in and handed me his sweaty uniform.  That’s Tyus Edney’s sweat man!

-Billy Knight.  Another UCLA guy.  He was notable for his absolute and whole hearted love of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.  We had some epic Kobe-LeBron arguments, where he would spout on about how “LebBron gets more assists, but Kobe makes his teammates better.”  Ok Billy, that makes perfect sense.  My assertions that Kobe was a punk for quitting in 06 against the Suns and 08 against the Celtics were met with head shakes and the accusation that I “must not have ever been the leader on a team before.”  Ouch, things just got personal, haha.  Granted he apparently won substantial amounts of money betting on the Lakers in the finals, so I guess that could justify his deep rooted affection.  But maybe more of that should be directed at Ron Artest, and perhaps even Sasha, considering Kobes mind meltingly selfish and dreadful game seven performance in 2010.

Tarron Williams.  Notable for being an absolute beast.  One of those 6-4 mean looking power forward types who you just did not want to mess with.  He was also a king of un-intentional comedy.  I wish I had written down all the stuff he was saying, I know I am forgetting all the gems.  He would say stuff like “I can’t get drunk off beer.  I can drink a 12 pack in an hour and not feel a thing.  You just piss it all out.” And “You’re bout to have a whole lot more than a band-aid” to an opponent sporting a band-aid who was talking shit. When out at night, he would simply go up to women and say “You’ve got a fat ass.”  I’m pretty sure he meant it as a compliment.  Also, his hatred of skinny jeans was at a level that can only be described as all-encompassing.  He hardly went an hour without expounding on how men wearing tight jeans were pretty much the worst people on earth.  Someone asked how he would respond if he was offered a million dollars to wear skinny jeans around his neighborhood for a month.  He said he’d decline, stating that where he was from that was as good as a death sentence.  I was very careful to wear my clothes baggy around him at all times.

Chris Ayer- A big dude from Arizona who went to Loyola.  He was notable for his intense workout methods (convincing me to go on a 5 mile street run in the heat, uphill, and he wore a 20 pound backpack) his hick-ishness (always talking about hunting and fixing cars and shit) and the fact that every time he scored in a home game they played that annoying song about “throwing your hands in the air.”  It’s clever cause it sounds like his last name.  Also, it seemed like he was the finisher on like 75% of my assists.  A big with good hands is hard to find.  If he was on my Israeli team I doubt we would be getting blasted by 3rd division teams in the preseason, but I digress.

That is a good lead in to talk about the ridiculous atmosphere of our home games, which were played at Cal Lutheran. There was a whole media table, radio announcers, trainers and a live in-game announcer.  This live game announcer took some serious pride in his job, which I can’t hate on.  The problem was, there was never more than 18 people in the stands, so his sound bites, nicknames and the rest were mostly just seen as ridiculous.  It was hilarious to me that I when I would score the MC would scream something to the effect of “HE’S IN THE HOUSE, MAN!” to the delight of our half-dozen loyal fans.  They also played that “duh-duh-duh, duh-duh duh, DUH-DUH-DUH” horribly annoying music every possession like they do in NBA games. Ha that was a pretty awful representation of that sound in writing form, but maybe one person will know what I am talking about.  Overall, a pretty weird home court schtick we had going on.  I also was reminded of the doldrums of the home game Harvard days, the only other time I would be dribbling up the court and could hear the radio guy going “Housman brings it across halfcourt…”  Kind of a surreal experience now that I think about it.

Side note- I just had to take a time out to use a water bottle to kill a cockroach that came in through my laughably inadequate window screen.  Welcome back to Israel!

As for my trip back, maybe I was just trying to look on the bright side for once, but for the whole summer I had it in my head that I would be in contact with my team and agent and that my return to Israel would be smooth.  Everything that happened to me in the past year makes this look like a pipe dream, but I believed it nonetheless.  Of course, my trip back to Israel was as haphazard, unorganized and spur of the moment as I should have expected.

I started trying to find out when I had to return sometime around mid July.  After pestering my agent and management for a solid month with no success, I eventually took things to the top and emailed the owner.  A day later I find out that they wanted me back in Israel in 5 days. 5 days! Thanks for the notice.  They wanted me back on the 16th of August.  My agent vowed to fight for more time.  He emailed the next day: I could now return the 17th.  One whole day more! That’s why he gets paid the big bucks.

My plans for a big NYC trip to end the summer seemed dashed.  They seemed especially dashed when unknown people began texting me at 7 AM after a long night out demanding to know if I wanted to fly out of LA or NYC.  At that time and in that state of mind I decided that I did not have the energy to gather everything I needed to leave the country and make a flight to New York in the next 24 hours.  So I told them to make it out of LA.  About 30 minutes later I decided it was worth the rush to make the New York trip, so I texted back to see if I could still make changes.  The mystery person texting me claimed that he/she had “already booked it.” Damn that was fast!  Little did I know this person was just putting me on to avoid having to do a little extra work, which is pretty much the M.O. of 99% of the people I deal with out here.

Dismayed, I resigned myself to a lonely last few days in the states.  A few hours later I got an email from the person in charge of booking flights asking for my birthday in order to finalize the confirmation.  Seeing as I booked multiple flights with her last year I assumed she had my birthday on file, but who am I to complain.  I seized this chance to ask for a flight change.  Clearly the mystery texter had misled me because nothing could be booked without my birthday.  She was able to book me out of New York, and I got one last awesome summer vacation out of it.

Eventually I made my way to the airport, after almost ruining everything by getting on the wrong train and riding it for a few stops.  Thank god I was not so overconfident as to not double-check with someone, which quickly brought my I-can-navigate-New York-with-the-best-of-them! attitude crashing to a halt.  When at the airport I had a funny encounter with the gate agent for Austrian Airlines.  He asked where I was headed and I said Switzerland, because for some reason I thought that’s where my connection was.  He looked really confused and told me I was in the wrong place, but that was cleared up once I gave him my confirmation information.  When I had to give him my passport a fine white mist came puffing out of the pages.  He became alarmed and asked what was going on.  Apparently this passport was being stored in a section of my backpack that once held a lot of protein powder.  I explained that to him, and he gave me a sly smile and a “suuuuure.”  Not sure how I was supposed to take that, but he let me on the plane, so that’s all that matters.

Once I got to Tel-Aviv I had to seek out a phone and call someone in management, who assured me that there was a person waiting outside with a sign that said “Housman.”  As you probably guessed, this “Housman” sign was nowhere to be found. I stood around like an idiot for a few minutes, but was soon ushered out of the greeting area and into the airport at large.  I walked around looking at signs for a solid 20 minutes, having a flash of hope once only to see the sign read “Hartofan.” Another sign read “WHO” and for a second I thought maybe he meant “Drew” and had just misheard someone on the phone, but that was a little too far-fetched.

I finally sought out another phone (shout out to the workers at the Pelephone store!) and called the manager again, who claimed the guy should be there, and told me to go stand by a certain landmark.  He also told me to look out for another teammate who was going to be arriving soon.  He described him thusly:  “He is a tall one.  And a black one.” Haha thanks for the heads up.  About 5 minutes later this driver guy finally shows, and we then have to wait another hour for my teammate.

But, despite the hectic entrance, it all ended on a positive note.  My apartment had been cleaned, fixed up, organized and all the stuff I left from last year was still in it (except, oddly, my scale.)  Also, my stove and bathroom light do not work, but I’m too happy with everything else to worry abou these things just yet.  It was so nice to settle in my own place and not have to do battle for internet access or anything like that.  Also, the only other American I have met so far seems like a nice guy, and he was taught by a strength coach in college who utilizes all the principles I base my workouts and stretches on, so it was cool to meet a kindred spirit in that sense.  All in all everything is shaping up to be much better than last year. I hope it continues this way.

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