You’re absolutely ready. You got dressed in your dusty old Jordans from the back of your closet, snapped tight your freshest sweatband, and whatever band t-shirt that hasn’t quite been covered in sweat stains. You hopped in your car and headed directly to the local courts, built directly underneath the summer sun. As you get closer, you observe the game in progress and fit everyone into one of five archetypes.
1. The Guy Who Can’t Miss
This guy doesn’t look like much and maybe at first glance you think you can take him. That thought is quickly erased from your mind when you see him drain a step-back three on a much more athletic looking man. And another. And then another. This man is a menace to basketball courts everywhere. You are almost certain he could be playing for some pro team in another country somewhere, putting his practice-honed talent to work. Maybe it’s just that he knows how to pick his shots, and maybe the defense is a little lax, but you are certain that you could replace a guy on your favorite college team with this guy and they would get a little bit better. If you are stuck guarding him, don’t feel too bad. He does this to everyone.
2. The Guy Who Thinks He’s The First Guy
This guy wants to be #1 so bad, but luck has dealt him a raw hand. He is firing every shot into the darkness and the darkness responds with a clank. There are enough bricks here to build a tiny castle around him. On the bench, where he should be. This guy is the guy most likely to be decked out in all the latest gear. Fresh new socks pulled up to the knees, one of those fancy dry-fit shirts and of course the shoes are nice too.
He follows the old basketball cliché: “Just keep shooting.” The funny thing about cliches is that most of them hold at least a nugget of truth. This man is bound to make one of them, but as you’re playing, you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of dread as he sets his feet and hocks up another ugly shot that bounces off the front of the rim.
3. The Big Man
This man is abusing God’s gifts and he needs to be stopped. He’s been tall (or large, there are two varieties of this one) all his life and some coach somewhere taught him one post move. By God, here on this lawless asphalt wasteland, that is all he needs. He’s often 6’4” plus and cannot be bothered to do anything on defense. It’s like that one episode of “Hey Arnold”, except instead of a stoop, it’s a bright yellow cylinder. Post kid’s afraid to leave his post.
This type of player does not like to play defense or have defense played upon him. You are expected to be a doormat and if you are not a doormat, he will not know what to do.
4. The Old Man
Legends foretold of a man whose skills do not fade even in the throes of death. The ghost of his dribbling echoes down the corridors of your local YMCA. He has dedicated his life, long past the point where any sane individual would, to the game of basketball. His legs are tree trunks and his torso is an unbreakable wall, and be careful, traveler, if you give him any space, he will drain a jumper in your face. He operates almost only on instinct, but unlike the other archetypes listed above, they are definitely good instincts.
5. You (Space Filler)
You are absolutely talentless and you know it. You have no right to be here. Of course, no one has any right being anywhere, but on every level you are outmatched. Even when you manage to stake a claim to one-tenth of a pickup game, you find that you have become a specter, the ball making its way around and through you if it needs to. You are a space-filler for some other more talented basketball player who will be coming soon. When he arrives, his friends will slap his hands, pull him in and slap his back. They will ask politely and firmly that you step off to make room for the real show. That’s just how it is.