Since 2006 I haven’t played some really good basketball. Growing up I always played basketball, it was the thing to do in the hood. The only shoes you wore were basketball sneakers; because you never knew when you’d play or just have to run for some reason. All the way up to my first year of college I mostly owned and wore basketball shoes. Hooping, as I call it regularly was a way of life, especially for young black men as myself. Once I got to high school I moved to North County in Saint Louis. There weren’t many parks, which meant not many places to hoop. The Suburbs were a pain in the a**!! If you wanted to HOOP, you had to own your on basket or hoop. Who had money for that, over here, nobody!!
My local grocery store, Shop N Save is where I met the crew. We became friends and partners in Basketball crime. The three of us were seen as Jordan, Pippen, and me (Dennis Rodman/Horace Grant). I was the worst player of the two super stars; they were well-known in the hood, and high school lore. I had honed my own style and skill set though, which somehow matched well with them. I was a tough defender; I didn’t mind putting you down to the ground. I had quick feet though for a bigger man, and my rebounding IQ is a natural talent. Blocking out wasn’t an issue, and setting picks was mean. Then when I got with these guys I learned to shoot the ball, jumpers, floaters, runners, all as a big man. The SNS EXPRESS TEAM was created, we made our schedules out at work so that we would have the day off, or we winded up off in time. The store loved our energy and backed us whenever they could, Rec money, shoes, extra tips, and hours.
The only way to get to a court was to find a rec center, or park, but I hate playing on asphalt. We drove to the Clayton Rec, paid like $3-$5 to get in and hoop. Surveyed the court, it was mostly people unlike our, “Background.” The workers around Clayton in their suits and ties, not many people our age ever and some Grandpas. Sometimes we would pick up an extra player or two, but for the most part we tried to stay the TEAM. We’d run people off the courts every time we went, and enjoy it sooo immensely. Playing for HOURS sometimes nonstop, a quick 5-10 minute break/water, and bring on the next team. Since I was the one not really in a basketball body, it took longer for me to get it back together. The funny thing is we would play so long; it seemed as if our breathing worked on its own accord. I would play so long, that I’d breathe heavy, but then I’d hit the wall and go through it, and breathing became natural as if I was Aquaman under water.
At a certain point, your legs become jelly though, and your feet feel like boulders. At this point it’s time to stop, the body is quitting on you, literally. Shower, dress, and have some old wrinkled man talking to you naked, while you rush and cringe to get out the locker room. LOL!! They had a Subway in the rec center, go figure, and we got a quick bite, home finally. Heavy sleep and the next day your legs would remind you that you did some good work the day before. It was sooo exciting, ahhhh YOUTH!! I went off to college out of the city in 2004 and I didn’t hear from them ever again. Hooped a little at the college rec center, but nothing really serious and few and far apart.
2005 came around I moved back home, and society had changed a little. People stopped wearing big clothing and basketball sneakers. The fashion police and big business had swelled again from theCounterculture of the 1960’s. Casual shoes and sneakers became the new thing, shell toes and fashion sneakers people wore. If you had on basketball shoes you were either an athlete or you planned to go Hoop somewhere that day. A lot of things had changed drastically back then, and so I went with the times!
I’ve been extremely lazy for a while until 2011 last year. Last year I had a health scare and decided to start working out again. I hit the gym and I hit it hard, everyday minus weekends, two hours. I did mostly cardio treadmill and elliptical as much as possible. I just wanted to go in the gym and punish my body everyday, and that’s what I did. After my cardio sets, I’d hit the machine weights. I started eating right watching my portions, eating the right things, and having only my one cheat day. I lost 50 pounds doing all of these things and I was proud, and felt a lot better. I had abs for goodness sake, that in itself was a miracle. Although one night, while at the gym my car was broken in to, things were stolen, my car was damaged. I felt terrible and lost the drive to continue going to the gym all together.
Today I’ve gained most of the weight back, and I am still 20 pounds less than when I started. Recently, I’ve wanted to get back into the swing of things. That feeling I was getting, I need it back, and it’s been carving at me a lot. Somehow, separately, I found the members of the SNS EXPRESS TEAM, just started happening. Found one guy, then found the other more recently and now I’ve thought about bringing it back together. It would be like killing two birds with one stone, and getting those extreme emotions I’ve missed. So Pippen called me up to go Hoop, and I jumped up, “Oh, Shit!!” It sounded sooo good just to hear it, I looked around my room. Then it dawned on me, “I DON’T OWN ANY BASKETBALL SHOES!!”