pickup 2

Many pickup basketball players live under the laughable delusion that they could be playing professional basketball right now...if only they'd had better coaching in high school or maybe started playing at a younger age. This fundamental misapprehension is the source of great confusion and frustration for the legions of Ground Jordans across the country. After all, it's hard for them to make sense of the fact that they regularly shoot 2-for-20 in a pickup league when, under ideal conditions, they'd be going head-to-head with Lebron.

Make no mistake: The delusion is entirely necessary. The confidence it brings -- while preposterous and completely unfounded -- is probably the only reason they keep playing. After all, few people have the testicular fortitude to continue participating in an activity at which they actively suck. But that's what excuses are for. A well-crafted excuse allows a pickup baller to maintain his delusions of grandeur and yet explain away his consistently poop-like performances. Here are the top 20 excuses you're likely to hear while you're playing pickup basketball.

1. I was fouled: On every play??

2. The other team cheated: Scorekeeping in pickup basketball is kind of screwy, so it's completely possible your team got cheated out of a point or two. But that doesn't really explain why you shot 0-for-11.

3. I haven’t played in a while: This isn't the NBA Playoffs. Shoot around for ten minutes and you'll be as prepared as anybody else.

4. I just ate: Did you really think scarfing down two Big Macs on your way to the gym would help your game?

5. It's gotta be the shoes: There's always some guy playing in trail running shoes, or in shoes that don't have any traction left. If you don't own basketball shoes or can't remember to bring them, it's a safe bet you weren't any good to begin with.

6. It's gotta be the ball: It's flat. It's over-inflated. It's too slick. It looks funny. It's filled with flesh-eating slugs. You may be right. But we're all playing with the same ball.

7. It's gotta be the gym: Yeah, the lighting is bad, the floor is pockmarked, the rims are tight, and there’s no air-conditioning. But we're all playing in the same gym.

8. I've got a nagging injury: Sore knees, gimpy ankles, and aching backs are common reasons for uncommon suckitude.

9. I got hurt a couple plays ago: Isn't funny how after getting totally embarrassed, guys will suddenly start limping or massaging their lower back? Strangely enough, they stop hobbling around after they hit a couple shots.

10. My teammates suck: They can't shoot, they don't pass, or they don't get you the ball where you can be effective (wherever that is). Blah, blah, blah. I’m sorry, but look around. We all have sucky teammates. This is also referred to as the "Washington Wizards' Michael Jordan / Post-Shaq Lakers' Kobe Bryant Memorial Excuse."

11. I'm too short: Uh, nobody else in the league is over 6'3", so I don’t think being 5'10" is that much of a handicap.

12. I'm too old: And yet you're spry enough to plant an elbow in my back and shove your knee up my ass week after week after week...

13. I'm out of shape: We already know you're fat. Now explain why you suck.

14. I'm no good: It always helps to lower expectations from the get-go.

15. I ran five miles earlier: With all the old, out-of-shape, injured guys that are already playing, your running fatigue shouldn't really matter.

16. I played ball for, like, four hours last night: This is supposed to mean the person is too tired to play well tonight. But with all that extra practice, shouldn't they be better?

17. I just got done lifting: Your muscles are very impressive. I'm happy for you. But I've lifted weights before, too. Stretch out for a few minutes and you'll be fine.

18. I’m drunk / hungover: If you're too liquored up to play amateur basketball, then you should be in a 12-Step program, not a pickup league.

19. I wasn't "into it" tonight: Aww, poor baby. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

20. I just can't find my shot tonight: Check the trash can.

[Inspired by "Mr. Excuses" from the 11 Guys You Always Meet Playing Pickup Basketball video.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
when i play against these guys, and you are correct, there is no shortage, i provide an excuse for them--i am a defensive god. of course it is easy to be so when the player you are guarding is worthless, but it pumps me up.

as a side note i had a game yesterday where a guy was totally out of control driving to the hoop, i cut-off the baseline and he just kind of jumped out of bounds, did some weird half-spin, threw up an underhanded 'lay-up' from behind the backboard that proceed to hit the BACK of the backboard. i was in the middle of laughing at him when he croaked out a desperate, 'foul.' i literally did not even touch him, it was the best foul call i've been witness to.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Guys are so lame

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous -- I see the baseline, under-the-backboard reverse shot a lot in my league, and guys who miss it almost always call a foul. It's like an automatic. You know, it happens in the NBA a lot too. Bailout call.

alexandra -- Even Mr. Desagana Diop?

Blogger B-Will said...
Amazing article, and I need to adopt some of these excuses. I think everyone who plays pickup ball needs to develop a sense of humor for themselves. On a positive side, it is good for someone to remember the one time that they had rythm, their defender sucked, and they hit almost 50% of their shots. It will happen to anyone, every now and again, and those are the days you come back for.

Yeah I have used those excuses, and yeah I think we all know deep down that they are just funny things to do.

Damn I wish I had written this article. Way to go basketbawful.

How to choose a game ball.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Well except for any Dallas Maverick!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
damn Basketbawful, you must be an INCREDIBLE baller to be able to tear everyone apart so easily. Could you post a video of your game? I'm sure a lot of us could learn a thing or two from an aging businessman blogger.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous -- You bring up an interesting point. But amazingly enough, I don't give a shit.

Blogger LooseChange said...
i know this comment is 2 days late, but punctuality is so overrated.

here is the pearl of knowledge my fortune cookie produced yesterday: excuses are easy to manufacture and hard to sell.

the first thing that popped into my head was this post. now i'm not completely sure if it was the fortune or the chinese food induced indigestion that reminded me of your blog, but either way i spend way too much time on the internet.

Blogger Unknown said...
I like to blame it on doing shoulder or tricep workouts the day before. I think that does effect it though. I use nofouls.com to find pickup games. The name says it all.