Seven days a week, Frank drove the city and searched for games. He traveled from the manicured intramural courts at the University of Washington to the broken-asphalt courts of the Central District; from the violent and verbose games in Green Lake Park to the genial and clumsy games at the YMCA; from the gladiator battles under the I-5 freeway to the hyperorganized leagues at Sound Mind & Body Gym. He played against black men who believed it was their tribal right to dominate the court. He played against black, brown, and white men who didn't care about any color other than the green-money bets placed on every point and game. He played against Basketball Democrats who came to the court alone and ran with anybody, and Basketball Republicans who traveled in groups of five and ran only with one another. He played against women who endured endless variations of the same dumb joke: Hey, girl, you can play, but it's shirts and skins, and you're running skins. He played against former football players who still wanted to play football, and former wrestlers who wanted only to wrestle. He played against undisciplined young men who couldn't run a basic pick-and-roll, and against elderly men who never missed their two-handed set shots. He played against sociopathic ball hogs, wild gun runners, rebound hounds, and assist-happy magicians. He played games to seven, nine, eleven, and twenty-one points. He played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on-four, five-on-five, and mob rules, improvisational, every-baller-for-himself, anarchist, free-for-all, death-cage matches. He played against cheaters who constantly changed the score, and honest freaks who called fouls on themselves. He played against Basketball Presbyterians who refused to fast-break, and Basketball Pagans who refused to slow down. He played against the vain Allen-Iverson-wanna-be punks who dribbled between their legs, around their backs and missed 99 percent of the ridiculous, driving, triple-pump, reverse scoop shots they hoisted up but talked endless and pornographic trash whenever they happened to make even one shot. He played against the vain Larry-Bird-wanna-be court lawyers who argued every foul call and planted themselves at three-point lines and constantly called for the ball because they were open, damn it, more open than any outsider shooter in the history of the damn game, so pass the freaking rock!Frank played so well that he earned ( and re-earned) a playground reputation and was known by a variety of nicknames: Shooter, Old Man, Chief, and Three. Frank's favorite nickname was Oh Shit, given to him in July by a teenage Chicano kid in MLK, Jr. Park."Every time the old Indio shoots and makes one of those crazy thirty-footers," the Chican kid had said, "his man be yelling, 'Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!"
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
No, we are not lottery bound. And no, we are not title contenders. We will lose more games this year than last year, and we will struggle to maintain relevancy throughout the season. Anyone whose fanaticism depends on foretelling the demise of powerhouses like L.A. and S.A. as our Rockets assume their place at the head of the league, should get out while they still can. This season is for the true fans: the ones who watched Rafer and Luther and Juwan and Mutombo when Yao and T-Mac couldn't play.
But all is not lost. There is still hope. What is the one thing the Rockets have never had in the Yao era - youth. The reasoning was somewhat sound - Yao needs veterans who can run half-court sets and get him the ball - but this philosophy merely led us to where we stand today. Now, we move forward. We are not in a rebuilding mode. Shit, we've been quietly rebuilding since Aaron and Carl showed so much promise in their rookie seasons, ever since T-Mac tried to put the team on his brittle back and failed.
We've thrown countless fringe veterans onto the floor around Yao and T-Mac, just hoping they would be enough to hold it all together: Kirk Snyder, Juwan Howard, Keith Bogans, David Wesley, Jon Barry, Ron Artest (I loved Artest and maybe I still will. In losing him we may have lost our on-court incendiary, but at this point our burgeoning team needs fewer and fewer combustible elements in this, its most formative season.) What we've been reluctant to do or incapable of doing is betting on development. We've never had time to waste waiting on the young guys to figure it out. We were always worried about Yao and Tmac and their "window of opportunity." You could say the window has shut, but I choose to say that there is no window. Not in the defeatist sense - like Yao or T-Mac couldn't win. Rather in the "think outside the box - there is no box" mentality.
"Where's the Cat? Where's the cradle?" -Kurt Vonnegut
The Celtics may have pulled off a complete roster revamping in one fell swoop, but we're in no position to hope for miracles. Our hopes should rest in development and unity.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
thanks to some dude on clutchfans for linking to this article on myfoxhouston
While Wafer will meet with the Clippers Tuesday, he is still hopeful he might be able to return to the Rockets.
"This is where I want to be," Wafer said. "They gave me my first opportunity. I want to be here."