the truth


you probably think this one’s gonna be about tattoos. or that it’s another convoluted, self-defeating (ie. self-centered) jeremiad about some vaguely intangible shortcoming i’m convinced i have. i would understand those expectations, given my track record so far.

but nope. not today.

today, we are going to talk about basketball. that’s right, basketball. i am going to spend all my time tonight (time that would probably be much more adequately spent drawing a tattoo i have to start tomorrow) writing about my admiration for a organized professional sport. if you think my tattoos suck, then maybe this example of my absurd arrangement of priorities will help explain an awful lot. i am willing to bet that oh, say, 900% of you reading this don’t even have a marginal interest in basketball, and that’s okay. because now i am here to bring basketball to you.

when i was a kid, i was CONVINCED that i would play in the nba someday. i started playing basketball in 4th grade, after moving to a new town, and for some reason i couldn’t get enough of it. oh, i’d had other sports-a summer fling with tee-ball, an affair with soccer- but nothing ever held my interest like basketball. and i mean nothing. i would throw the ball into an empty bucket in the garage when we didn’t have a hoop. later on, i regularly eschewed schoolwork to play in my driveway in the middle of winter, frostbite notwithstanding. i played in the rain. i played in the dark. i played every opportunity i had. when it was discovered i had a capacity for artmaking, i would draw pictures of magic johnson, tim hardaway and scottie pippen from the piles of trading cards i had collected. when i discovered shoplifting as an adolescent, i stole package after package of basketball cards and obsessively monitored the stats and career paths of every player. so many of my thoughts related to basketball, it shouldn’t be a total surprise that after a while, i actually got pretty good at the game.

now, “pretty good” is only a pertinent description in consideration of context, so it should not be forgotten that i was a white kid with a lot of time to myself in a small town in new hampshire… not in harlem. but, within my own little world i was good enough to make the school basketball teams every year, throughout high school, and actually play some quality minutes in tough games and perform adequately. but somewhere along the line, it became clear that my competitive spirit was not up to par with everyone else’s. i’m not sure what it was- this is probably where we can start placing some blame on punk rock- but i just couldn’t get bummed on lost games or bulk up in the gym for “increased performance(ie. increased douchery).” i always just played for pure enjoyment of the game, and would never let anything get in the way. this is apparently not the correct attitude for a professional athlete to employ on their ascent to basketball domination, as i’ve come to understand, and it had become clear by then that i was unfit for an athletic career. also, i had annoyingly topped out at a tall-for-normal-humans-but-small-by-basketball-standards 6’3″. sigh. i guess art school would have to suffice.

and then it all unraveled. i got all caught up in art and bikes and music and fun and life and new experiences…. and basketball fell to the side. i spent the next 6 years playing drums, touring with bands, blah blah blah, being an idiot, working day jobs, learning a trade, and i completely and utterly forgot about basketball. so sad. in retrospect, i actually feel really bad about the way things went with basketball and i. i take full blame for all the hurt feelings. i remember during this entire time constantly feeling like something was missing…. though, let’s be honest: i always feel that way.

fast forward several years, and i find myself in portland with seats to a home game… portland trailblazers vs dallas mavericks. it was kind of a joke, but some friends and i thought it might be funny and made the trip for night. and hooooly fuck, it was AWESOME. i was electrified. it was a great game between two very good teams(portland won), and all of a sudden i felt like a kid again.  to be fair, i picked the right time and place to have this experience… the trailblazers, after many seasons of ineptitude, were having a breakout season, re-emerging as a legitimate basketball organization from the management all the way down. and it showed. they won my heart that night two years ago, and i remain a dedicated trailblazers fan.

since that time, i’ve rekindled my love for the game and now spend more time than i’m willing to admit poring  over sports articles, blogs, statistics and games themselves, absorbing every bit of information i can and following the league’s developments with a diligent fervor. if i spent half as much time drawing as i did reading about the NBA, well, i’d probably have a lot of drawings. off the top of my head, i could tell you the current starters and most of the reserves for any team in the nba, along with their heights, what teams they used to play for, and how well they are playing right now. that is a lot of useless information. but i know all of it, and you don’t.

this is getting much longer than i intended, and i haven’t even touched on what i really wanted to, so i am going to split this entry into two parts. and “part II: the beauty of the game” will have to come another day. for now, i am going to leave you with this:

man, that houston rockets’ bear is frighteningly incompetent.

One Comment

  1. Ahhhhh Ryan. I don’t know how old you are… younger then my 40 I’m thinking. But I’ve recently learned that one of the best things about growing up is embracing those things that make you truly happy. I’m working on that every day. enjoy the game for all you’re worth. That said, I’m in love with that tat of the telephone pole and birds on the wire and I WILL have you do my New Hampshire tattoo one of these days.

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