Tasks are eliminated. Worries are left behind. Cultural differences cease to exist. Reality vanishes. My eyes focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. When the ball is in my hands, I feel powerful. I feel in control. In the office when in conversation with colleagues I feel helpless and encounter many problems. Problems with culture, problems with language, problems with personalities, problems with norms. When the ball is in my hand, I feel it is the opposition that encounters problems and feels mine. Everything that is pent up is taken out on the same court, every day. It is my escape, my sanity, my happiness, my platform, my release. It feels good that every day I am given this opportunity. There I can shine.
For some technical details I left out of the video:
In total there are 9 players including myself. I have compared some of their games to a basketball player in the NBA, which is how I think of them in my mind. (*THIS IS ALL RELATIVE TO STREET BALL IN MOLDOVA*)
Tyson Chandler, in his rookie year. Pavel is the 15 year old boy who is 6’5” 180 lbs I spoke of in the video. Today during our game, I yelled at him after a close play. I did not want to, but I lost my patience with him when he did not use his size against his meek opponent. He took an exorbitant amount of lazy three point shots and kept fading away with his jumpers. He was outrebounded, did not cut to the open basket, and was not hustling on defense or for the loose balls. I try to remember that he is very young and raw but I also think it is time that he has someone give a crap about his potential. He could be the best player on the court. All he needs to do is sack up from time to time and get angry. Right now he stands as the 8th best player out of nine and it makes me upset. He is such a nice kid and I enjoy him off the court but when we get in between those lines I wish he would just flip that switch. He lets the others punk him, tell him what to do, strip the ball from him, push him aside, and he just takes it. I would just like to see him discover his abilities and make something of his gifts. To me potential is only that.. potential. It means nothing without mind and spirit. He has no idea how dominant he could be. His “relative” ceiling in our group is comparative to Kevin Garnett in his prime. I hope he realizes this.
Russell Westbrook. Valik is 17 years old and stands about 5’9”. He is incredibly fast, aggressive, a slasher, good rebounder for his size, and is a natural born killer. He carries a swag to him that I want in a teammate. He still needs help in ball control and protection but he is currently my favorite player from the group.
LaMarcus Aldridge. Calin is 22, and is around 6’3”. He is also quick for his size, aggressive, and is an excellent mid-range shooter. He can finish around the hoop and hustles on every play. Today, I had to guard him one-on-one and I caught many elbows. I am now left with some sore legs and back. He also needs to protect the better and learn to dribble with his left hand.
Tony Allen. Tudor is 22, 5’9” and is built like an ox. He is relentless and has great endurance. He has a nose for the ball on defense and absolutely wore me out on the boards. He reminds me of Tony Allen because he is a bruiser with only an average offensive game.
Jason Kidd, the 2010-2011 version. The elder statesman Alexandru is 42 years old and is in very good shape for his age. He is a pass first point guard and is incredibly wise. He has good court vision and is as tough as the rest of the pack. He is the leader and coach of the indoor league during the winter and is really tough on the guys. He speaks only in Russian and commands respect. He has mine.
and for my last comparison..
Right now I feel like Dwanye Wade. Playing this game gives me lots of joy with plenty of frustration. The one thing I constantly remind myself while the ball is in play is to go hard. I used to slack on defense and rely on a 3 point shot and my results were terrible. I would be one of the last chosen amongst my good friends during undergrad. I was still adequate in that time, but alot has changed since then. I take the game seriously now. It starts on defense: boxing out, blocking shots, and stripping the ball. After a stop, I attack the rim relentlessly looking to score, but will distribute the ball to a cutter in the paint on offense. If I am playing off the ball, I find my spot on the elbows of the free point line or baseline for two-point jump shots and also dart to the center of the box for a floater near the rim. Three pointers now come occasionally, only when I am wide open. I would rather wear out the opponent on defense and have a battle of endurance (not always on my part considering I am the second oldest, but I have to psych myself up right?). If I could improve on a couple of things it would be to learn how to my right smoothly, dribble on the run with more fluidity, drop the floater, and to also have patience with my teammates. Too often I let my competitive spirit get the best of me, which takes me out of my game. If I can improve on these things I will feel 100% confident in my game come Winter League, which I cannot wait to begin.