The perfect basketball equation

The perfect basketball equation

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The perfect basketball equation

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I feel like a vampire. Sunlight still hurts. It’s as if I have so many things to do and too much time to do it. In turn, nothing gets done. Well nothing except for thinking. And the more I think, the more I realize I do way too much of it. But it’s so damn easy. Much easier than… let’s try… opening these window shades… Good Lord! Is it night time? How long have I been asleep?

I’d better check if my family is still here. Whew! Thank God. Geez, kids are much bigger but they’re still here. OK. Let’s go online and check today’s events…

CARAMBA! Oil’s down. Obama was in Ghana?! I was just there. How did I miss that? What the hell is Twitter? Huh? That’s stupid. What team is Q-Rich on now?

Really? MJ?!… Wait a minute… Where the hell are my legs?! Oh God what have I done to… oops. False alarm. Found them.

Let me try to remember. I think everything went haywire after Manchester United lost to Barca in the Champions League final. Now I like to be realistic, so hear me out. I knew Barca was better but I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d get lucky. Not Rooney. Not O’Shea. Not even Ronaldo (traitor). Me! Thing that makes soccer so enamored to me is there’s not much luck. The best is just that… better than everyone else.

In this sport one cannot hide talent or protect a bum. So I wasn’t really angry, just furious. My only solace was the score wasn’t that bad. We all know it could have easily been much worse seeing as how we played without Ronaldo. I hear he mysteriously vanished… poof!… right before the introductions and reappeared somewhere in Spain. After all that I think I left Puerto Rico and fell into a wormhole.

I thought about recounting my season seeing as how I’ve been gone so long. But then again, why do that? I mean, if a person doesn’t want to see the obvious, what good is it for me to attempt to explain? Let’s just leave it at it’s my fault. I told the teams not to pay me, smashed my own hand trying to pick up a leprechaun and broke out into random dance in every game I played, viciously throwing out my back.

That was my year this year. I did however play for my National team this summer and it was easily the best part of my year. Despite the debacle that I witnessed in FIBA Afrique, I was reminded of what is good in this sport and that part cannot be hidden: the comradery and the wisdom the experience grants.

When I think about it, I really start to think I am crazy. Does everyone else see this and just ignore it? Or maybe I’m just blind. But then, for just a moment, I feel part of society as something by all definitions miraculous takes place and I join everyone marvel in unison. Ah ha! You are ignoring the negative. You Muppet.

There is a FIBA rule that says a nation can naturalise (like that Queen’s English spelling?) one person a year. So did anyone else see like half of the African teams signing multiple players with absolutely zero ties to the country he was playing for? One team signed… six players! And no one said a word. Shut up G! Fall in line! Yes… baaaa… sir, I mean Sheppard… baa baa maaaaa!

I could go on all day and give particulars on how no one cares or governs that dark zone. But why? It doesn’t exist now does it? Everything that happens there is “Ah weem ma way,” and “Akuna matata.” Pyramids, Sahara, Nile, Kilimanjaro, well endowed women, majestic animals and who can forget? The all famous, “awww poor deprived people.” Whatever makes us feel better. It’s called misdirection to hide the truth of the matter. Or what I so colorfully describe with my punch-line to all hidden in plain site, “look at the shiny freakin’ monkey.”

My favorite part in “The Last King of Scotland,” was when Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) was talking to his Scottish doctor after discovering he slept with his wife. You know, telling him how he came to Africa to mingle with the locals, enjoy some stallion Bantu women etc. But all the dreams fell to reality when he realised (Queen’s biyatch) the dude standing in front of him is as human as he is. He carried the same feelings, blood, skin, rage, jealousy and the trait that most concerned him at that time, human propensity to act irrationally and unjustly when pissed and powerful.

All of this complexity was simplified with my favorite line in the movie. He examined him crown to chin as if in wonderment that he really didn’t get it and said, “We are real. This room is real. Everything here… is real.” That part, that very instance is something I feel we will all experience one day. The best thing I can do is prepare myself so the shock doesn’t assist in my terror. But hey, some might chose keep looking at the shiny monkey and deal with reality when it comes.

Stronger than me. I never liked covert, things hidden. I hated geology. Ten PhD geologists in one room and they’ll disagree on the same rock. I absolutely loathed English/Writing/Lit as you can probably see. I’d write an essay in class about something Chaucer wrote and get an “F”. Then go into see the professor and explain what I wrote and, “Oh! wow! That’s impressive Gabriel! (yes he said my full name)” Then he’d re-evaluate my grade and hand me an “A”. That’s supposed to make me feel better? It’s too chaotic, too unpredictable. But math.

There’s a chunk one can grasp. 2+2 is always 4. Can’t change or hide that fact. Same as physics. I love physics because it is exact. People may disagree, but if something in physics is off, then you missed something. You, not the physics.

Yes, as coach Wright would say, I am a strange bird. I submit to that. But after you get passed that, I’m pretty consistent. Which then makes one wonder why I love basketball so much. That equation doesn’t get anymore inconsistent. Ah! But the experiences and wisdom one attains if comradery is grasped, that is pretty uniform everywhere you go.

One of my most memorable experiences this summer was being coached by John Lucas. My close friends know I had my misconceptions about him before. Well, he made me feel guilty not to have made more of an effort to know him better. I wish everyone could have just watched a TV show starring this guy and his first time in Africa. He enjoyed his experience and kept it going like he was still in Texas.

He didn’t complain once while guys born and raised in Nigeria complained about the red-headed lizards outside (hard to get rid of them, we’re in West Africa). You would have never known Luc had never been to Africa. It was the highlight of my time with the National team. I would have been less of a person if I didn’t experience Mr. Lucas. Not just Luc but the entire team.

Who’d a thunk it? The sport is the sport but the team is what makes the game. As we know, the game is much bigger than the sport. The results this year for me were forgettable. Starting from France and topped off with a 5th place finish in the African Championship leaving 180 million Nigerians hoping on a wild card draw in the World Championships (insert plug here). But as you probably guessed, I’m still excited to be where I am. Where is that? 14 light years from Betelgeuse and midway between Orion and Earth. Triangulate that.

Not really important where I am, just who is with me whether they are in my vicinity or not. I can hide a lot and I can ignore even more but experience, prudence, love, friends and wisdom will be in plain sight. And yes, a dark room can still attempt to ignore light’s existence but after a while the light will get so intense, the dark will itself cease to exist. This year we’ll see what experiences I’ll get and I’ll always take them. I may even get lucky. Then, I’d have it all. I’d join many others and have my very own light (friends, love, prudence, experience and wisdom) and some would still be welcome to enjoy that shiny freakin monkey.

I’ve been up too long. Sun’s coming up. Back to the coffin. See you when the sun goes down. Cover your necks.

Wisdom 7: 7-14

Shalo…bama!

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