Bread City Basketball

October 26, 2007, 1:00 am
Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, Fiction, Photography | Tags: ,

I was the most dedicated basketball player. I don’t say the best. In my mind I was terrifically good. In fact I was simply the most dedicated basketball player in the world. I say this because I played continuously, from the time I discovered the meaning of the game at the age of ten, until my mid-twenties. I played outdoors on cement, indoors on wood. I played in heat, wind, and rain. I played in chilly gymnasiums. Walking home, I played some more. I played during dinner, in my sleep, in movies, in automobiles and buses, and at school. I played for over a decade, taking every conceivable shot, with either hand, from every direction. Masses cheered my performance. No intermission, no food, no other human concern, year after year they cheered me on. In living rooms, subways, movies, and schoolyards I heard them. During actual basketball games I also played basketball. I played games within games. When I lost my virginity I eluded my opponent and sank a running hook. Masses saw it happen. I lost my virginity and my girl lost hers. The game had been won. I pulled up my trousers. She snapped her garter belt. I took a jump shot from the corner and another game was underway. I scored in a blind drive from the foul line. We kissed good night. The effect was epileptic. Masses thrashed in their seats, loud holes in their faces. I acknowledged with an automatic nod and hurried down the street, dribbling. A fall-away jumper from the top of the key. It hung in the air. Then, as if sucked down suddenly, it zipped through the hoop. Despite the speed and angle of my shots, I never missed.

Basketball Player by Leonard Michaels

suburban basketball nostalgia


The Church

In a lull, though it rarely occurs, you can hear the squeak of tennis shoes against the floor. Then the yelling begins again, and then continues; fathers, mothers, neighbors joining in to form a single pulsing ululation—a cry of the whole community—for in this gymnasium each body becomes the bodies beside it, pressed as they are together, thigh to thigh, and the same shudder runs through all of them, and runs toward the same release. Only the ball moves serenely through this dazzling din. Obedient to law it scarcely speaks but caroms quietly and lives at peace.

– Excerpted from In The Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass

August 24, 2007, 11:04 am
Filed under: Basketball, Bread City, cheerleaders, Fiction, Photography | Tags:

WHAM! Bread City just double scooped you with the photo of the year. For everyone that’s coming over here for the first time via my short story on Free Darko, what’s up!

cheerleaders flip

photo by listen missy


Scottie Pippen wants to come back to the NBA.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last three months,” Pippen said last week. “I’m moving good. I feel pretty fast and you don’t forget the game. I watch and see so many young guys who don’t know how to run a team and I feel I could help someone.” The 41 year-old Pippen went on to claim that he was in the best shape of his life.

The whole situation reminds me of one of the greatest basketball short stories of all time, “What Ever Happened to Frank Snake Church?” by Sherman Alexie, excerpted below.

“I’m only forty years old,” Frank said.

He bounced the ball between his legs, around his back, thump, thump, between his legs, around his back, thump, thump , again and again, thump, thump, faster and faster, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

“Basketball years are like dog years,” Preacher said. “You’re truly about two hundred and ninety-nine years old.”

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

“I’m still a player,” Frank said. “I’m still playing good and hard.”

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

“But why are you still playing so hard?” Preacher asked. “What are you truing to prove? You keep trying to get all those years back, right? You’re trying to time-machine it, trying to alternate-universe it, but one of these days, you’re going to come down wrong on one of your arthritic knees, and it will be over. What will you do then? You’ve bet your whole life on basketball, and playground basketball at that, and what do you have to show for it? Look at you. You’re not some sixteen-year-old gangster trying to play your way out of the ghetto. You ain’t even some reservation warrior boy trying to shoot your way off the reservation and into some white-collar job at Microsoft Ice Cream. You’re just Frank the Pretty Good Shooter for an Old Fart. Nobody’s looking to recruit you. Nobody’s going to draft you. Ain’t no university alumni lining up to financially corrupt your naive ass. Ain’t no pretty little Caucasian cheerleaders looking to bed you down in room seven of the Delta Delta Delta house. Ain’t no ESPN putting you in the Plays of the Day. You ain’t as cool as the other side of the pillow. You’re hot and sweaty, like an orthopedic support. You’re one lonely Chuck Taylor high-top rotting in the ten-cent pile at Goodwill. Your game is old and ugly and misguided, like the Salem witch trials. You’re committing injustice every time you step on the court. I think I’m going to organize a march against your ancient ass. I’m going to boycott you. I’m going to boycott your corporate sponsors. But wait, you ain’t got any corporate sponsors, unless Nike has come out with a shoe called Tired Old Bastard. So why don’t you just give up the full-court game and the half-court game and enjoy the fruitful retirement of shooting a few basketballs and drinking a few glasses of lemonade.”

Frank stopped bouncing the ball an threw it hard at Preacher, who easily caught it and laughed.

“Man oh man,” Preacher said. “I’m getting to you, ain’t I? I’m hurting your ballplaying heart, ain’t I?”