I started playing in pickup games this summer at the local rec center. I don’t usually play there, but I learned that they had good runs in the mornings that ex pros would come to. The competition was pretty good. The run included a few college and overseas guys, some notable ex pros (Mark Jackson, Bryon Russel, Mitch Ritchmond, Cuttino Mobley) and a smattering of randoms to round it out. Among those randoms was a man who only went by the moniker “Term.”
A few things were readily apparent about Term: This guy had more moxie on a basketball court than anyone I had ever played with, he treated these pickup games like his mothers life was on the line, and he very likely had some brain chemistry issues.
He was 5’6, 140 pounds of pure, unadulterated aggression. He screamed after every basket and hurled obscenities at anyone on the opposing team who called a foul. A made three would elicit a “This is my gym!! Who is trying to guard me?!?” An airball would inevitably be followed by a phantom foul call.
If you dared to question the call he would throw the ball down and approach you as if you had just stolen his girlfriend. The crazy thing was that the airballs were few and far between. He was actually a really good basketball player, even though his game consisted almost exclusively of threes from 8 feet behind the line. His form and balance were terrible, yet he hit these shots at a tremendous clip. I am still at a loss to explain it. All I can think of is that confidence is a powerful thing.
The first time I met him he said “I’m Term. You know, Terminator.” Which was by far the coolest way I have ever become acquaintances with someone. I decided against asking him how he got that nickname. I asked him if he played overseas. He said that he worked for his brother, doing “management stuff.” I learned his brother was Baron Davis, and this made more sense.
He often had a girl with him who would sit in the bleachers and watch. She never uttered a word. He never acknowledged her presence unless she was handing him a water bottle. I don’t know how she had nothing else to do on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but then again there are a lot of things I don’t know. Maybe she liked him because he kept the most immaculately maintained Rick Ross beard I have ever seen. He must have spent an hour each morning grooming it.
Term played every game listening to headphones that were not connected to an iPod, but to a blackberry! That he kept in his pocket while he played! WHAT? Only Term could pull something like that off without anyone questioning him. I am not even sure he had music playing, because he didn’t seem to have a problem hearing anything negative said about him and quickly verbally abusing whoever that was. He once literally chased a younger player from baseline to baseline with his fists balled because the kid had the audacity to call a travel on him. It took a lot of scared apologies before the game could continue. He might have been tiny, but his force of personality was tremendous.
During a game one mid summer morning Term was in rare form. He walked off the court in anger not once, not twice, but three times. The final time he took the ball with him, announced that he was “using his hands today!” and challenged the man who called the foul to meet him in the parking lot. The game was put on hold indefinitely.
Normally the team that was down a player would just pick up someone waiting on the side, but people were legitimately afraid of offending Term. Finally, old and wizened Mark Jackson was able to calm him down and coax him back to the court. When he came back he proceeded to hit a deep three in my face and said “Terminator!” as the ball went through the net.
There is no sinking feeling quite like having a scrawny 35 year old, who calls himself by the name of a Schwarzenegger action hero, bust your ass on a basketball court. Later in the game he made a comment about how my “Ivy League ass” couldn’t guard him and exclaimed “THIS AINT COLGATE!” I wanted to tell him that Colgate was in the Patriot League, but I figured I should just let that one go. I was stunned that even though the game featured 3 former NBA players and numerous people who played in college, this diminutive, obnoxious man ran everything.
I can’t adequately describe how peculiar this guy is, but I felt like giving it a shot. Maybe I will try to take some video next summer.