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Thursday, April 16, 2009

hoop dreams

From the middle of the court, T- kept lobbing balls at the rim, but they kept hitting the backboard. We just finished 3-on-3 and were waiting for the four new guys, well three guys & a girl, to hurry up so we could run full-court. A girl looked on from the sideline. She looked young. She was crouching down next to a guy in his 20s, with tattoos covering his arms. He had shaved eyebrows & a little mustache, the kind you used to see a long time ago, and you sometimes still see in movies.

There were many I remember well.

One was a layup, where I hesitated in front of the guy guarding the rim, went around him to the left & did a finger roll while he fouled my arm. Swoosh.

Another was when I lined up behind the arc in the right corner, we needing a three to win, and high off the backboard, no, bang on the rim, bang again, backboard again, swoosh, with T- screaming, "yeah, yeah!"

And later in the left corner behind the arc, no one around & T- screaming, "shoot!" The Japanese guy guarding me running & jumping & me arcing the ball high, too high, I think, but then swoosh, while T- is screaming again.

T- is cool. He also has tattoos covering his arms. R-, as well. Me, with my little one on the left shoulder, but inside wishing I was as inked as these guys. In this country tattoos are taboo. On the court, they are a mark of passion.

R- was getting hot so he took off his shirt. His black skin & sweat, reflecting the lights above, his body sculptured in a Holyfield remake, made us all look on in wonder. The girl on the sideline kept staring. Her guy kept running over between games to let her sit on his lap.

Afterwards we sat exhausted while people slowly got up to leave. The girl walked out after the mustache guy. "Was that a high school uniform," T- shouted. Yes, it was. "I want her to sit on my lap," he said. "But I'm probably the only guy in here who will say something like that." We waited patiently, and slowly our lives outside the court started to come back to us.

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