When I go to the YMCA, I sometimes watch the games being played on the two basketball courts. And it maddens me. Because nobody passes. When a guy gets the ball, he dribbles around until he can find space to loft up a shot, which usually misses. They’re all a bunch of gunners. And this is Indiana, where basketball is supposed to be more pure, more fundamental, than elsewhere.
I love seeing good passes. But they don’t exist at the Y.
In my basketball days, I was always a point guard. My greatest delight was the pass, hitting someone when he was open. I didn’t need to score. I loved enabling others to score. That’s what point guards do.
Of course, part of it was just compensating for my weakness, which was shooting. I was always a terrible shooter. If the coach said we could leave practice after making five straight free throws–well get me a pillow, because I’m gonna be here all night.
But I could always pass, and let others do the scoring.
In pickup games, whether in PE or on the court behind our house in Pixley, Calif, where scores of kids came to play, I looked to pass. And sometimes, there would be one guy who knew that, if he got open under the basket, I would get him the ball. And HE would then score. I loved that, watching this guy maneuver and making sure I was in position to dish him the ball.
In pickup games, it’s not especially hard to get open (especially in PE). Nobody guards vigorously. So if you put just a little effort into getting open, it’ll happen. And I would get you the ball somehow.
But at the YMCA, nobody plays to pass. Consequently, nobody tries to get open…because, what’s the point? Everyone knows that the guy with the ball is gonna dribble around and eventually shoot. So everyone else is just a spectator, standing around until he lets fly.
I would not enjoy playing in those games. It drives me nuts just watching.Leave a comment