I’ve just watched the NCAA basketball championships game. I’ve already forgotten who won.
I just don’t give a fuck about basketball. It’s not that I am not in awe of the physical grace of the players, because I am. As I am with world class athletes in all sports. But I’m a short, fat white guy – 5’9″, 200 lbs. – so basketball is a sport played by an alien species.
This is the first time I’ve watched a basketball game since the 1988 NCAA final. Kansas vs Oklahoma.
I had to look up who it was that played Kansas. I remembered that the Jayhawks won, but had no recollection of the Somers being their opponents. Which is kinda strange, ’cause I’ve been a Sooners football fan since the early 70s. Like I say, I just don’t give a fuck about basketball.
I was hitchhiking back to my home in Vancouver, after visiting a high school friend in LA. It was a Monday, of course. I was somewhere in Northern California. Might have been Southern Oregon. It was a pretty, little podunk town.
It was kinda hot. Hot for March, to a young man from frozen Cannuckistan.
I was in no hurry. I had all the time i the world. I had a year of Unemployment Insurance coming to me, after spending a Hellish year working for the railroad in my shithole hometown. I’d gone back home after my brother blew his head off with a 44 magnum. No, that doesn’t have anything to do with basketball. I’m just trying to keep this interesting for y’all while I make up the rest of this one in my head.
I was thirsty.
I stumbled out of the sun and into a smokey little tavern around 5 PM. That’s a bit early to start getting your drink on, but I could knock back 50 or 60 of those piss-water Mairkan beers in those days, so why the fuck not?
So long as I stayed away from the whisky, I’d be okay. So long as I stayed away from the whisky and didn’t start talking politics, I’d be okay.
At half time I was bored shitless, so I started drinking whisky. And talking politics. Or trying to. They boys kept pointing at the TV and telling me to shut the fuck up. So I did.
I tried playing basketball in high school. I didn’t suck. I was good enough to make the team, but we were all a bunch of short white guys. I wasn’t fat back them. I was, in fact, an outstanding athlete. Captain of my hockey, football and baseball teams. But basketball made no sense to me.
Basketball season started after football season. We were already a couple months into hockey season. I just could not make the adjustment to a non-contact sport.
My basketball career came to an abrupt and ugly end about three or four games into the season. Dude charged in from my flank and tried to cut around me for a lay-up. When he left his feet, I hit him with a hip check. That poor motherfucker splattered all over the paint. One of his teammates tried to get in my face. I one-punched him into next week. It was like Kermit Washingtom vs Rudy Tonjanovich. Boom boom out go the lights!
Coach kicked me off the team. I didn’t give a fuck. The outdoor rinks had just opened, so I had something better to do after school.
I’ll bet that I was not the only one, here in Yugoslavia, who was up ’til 5 AM watching the game this morning. Yugoslavia was a big basketball country.
I understand there are all sorts of Yugoslavians playing in the NBA. And you get the odd Mairkan playing in the domestic league here. I met one of them about a year ago.
Dude was about six foot. Black. There are no black dudes in Yugoslavia. When you see one, you know he’s either here to play football, or to play basketball. I ran into this dude at a bar. We were both sitting by ourselves. He was the only guy who stood out from the crowd more than I do, with my Viking mane or red/blond hair.
I asked where he was from. Missouri.
I knew he was here to play basketball and asked him how his season was going. He said it was okay. I asked how he was enjoying life in Yugoslavia. He said he was really enjoying it. I don’t doubt it. Next to the Sudanese, Montenegrins are the tallest people in the world. Lots of 6 foot tall drop dead gorgeous girls here. I’m sure the brother was up to his foul line in Glamazons.
He can have all of them,. I prefer my girls 5’2″ and under.
He told me something I already knew. That the people are very friendly. I laughed, “They all want to have their pictures taken with you, right?” He smiled. They did.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it’s because he’s black, not because he’s some kind of star.
Well, that’s it. That’s all I got for you. Hey, if you’re reading this because you’re a basketball fan, you weren’t gonna learn anything from my ignorant ass, anyway. And it ain’t like your paying to read this nonsense.
I don’t think I;ll be writing about basketball again for another – let’s see, 1988 to 2014- for another 26 years. I’ll be 76 then. Probably drooling all over myself. Hands to crippled to type. I’ll have to yell at you, “Hey! Sonny. you wanna hear some basketball stories. I was hitchhiking back from LA….”