Anytime you go to the local gym, you’ll encounter at least four of these “pickup basketball guys.”
By Neil Harrington
Recreational sports are intended to be a fun way for me to stay in shape and make friends while I do so.
Within my inner-circle, we don’t take it too seriously — and that’s the whole point. Have some fun, burn a few calories, and grab a few beers afterward.
That rings true — for most of us, that is.
Over the weekend at a local pickup game, I encountered “pick up basketball guy,” also known as “likes to fight guy,” who took my fun-loving nature way too seriously.
He was jawing at me, and I jawed back; with some smack-talk of my own. It was all in good fun — but not for this guy, who dropped the gloves and wanted to fight me.
I refused, not wanting to embrace my inner-Mike Tyson, leaving before it got way too out of hand.
At first, I thought my morning was ruined, with my workout cut about an hour short thanks to that jerk. However, he reminded me of a sports take from times past and made it all worth it — so all was not lost.
Nearly two decades ago, my go-to sports talk show and radio legend Jim Rome did a segment on “pick up basketball guy,” laying out all of the types of personalities one encounters when hitting the local gym for a basketball run.
In fact, there are (at least) four of these “guys,” and after my recent run-in with angry young guy/jerk, what better time to reset this classic Jim Rome rant.
Without further ado, we have (all four) pick up basketball players you’ll see when you venture out to your rec league runs.
1.The old timer
He’s out there running with the young guys and throwing elbows. He’s fundamentally sound and full of all-out effort. He just keeps coming at you and wears you down the entire game.
However, over-confident youngsters will be too bold and say, “I’ll guard the old guy.” Before they’ve realized it, they’ve made a terrible mistake.
The “old guy” is a player everyone wants on their team. He’ll take a charge, make the extra pass, and be around to clean up the glass — at any cost.
He’s old, bald, has a LeBron James headband, and the Kobe Bryant arm-sleeves. He’ll wear you out and bruise your ribs in the process. He’s one guy at the pickup basketball game that you want no piece of — at all, but want on your team instead.
2. Black-hole guy
If the rock goes into the Black-hole during a pickup basketball game, it’s never coming out. “Black hole” guy thinks he’s Steph Curry but has zero percent of his three-point game.
He’ll jack up 20 threes a game and make maybe two of them. He intercepts passes intended from other teammates, then jacks it up from 45 feet away from the hoop.
When he happens to make one or two, he’ll come out you with the “all day taunt.”
When he does miss, which is most of the time, he makes excuses. It’s his teammate’s fault for making a bad pass or not getting him the rock.
The Black-hole plays zero defense and doesn’t attempt to snag any tough rebounds. He cherry picks and waits for the ball to come to him — because “he’s the man” and “God’s gift” to basketball.
He’s the guy who tries to juke the other team in passing him the ball and the rare time that lame move works, he throws up a three no matter where he’s at on the court.
On uncontested breakaways and two teammates wide open underneath, he’ll throw up a brick with two defenders on him.
If a dude rolls in with a Ray Allen or Kyrie Irving jersey, you better head home because you know you’re not even going to sniff the rock — because black hole guy is here to do one thing. Jack up threes.
3. Serious Guy
“Serious Guy,” thinks he’s playing at Allen Fieldhouse or at AT&T Stadium in the Final Four each time he laces them up. It’s Game 7 of the NBA finals and nothing less than winning is acceptable.
He knows his entire stat line, his opponent’s numbers, and even scouts out each and every one of his opponents (and teammates).
If a teammate makes a bad pass, misses an open shot, or doesn’t get back on D quick enough, he’s all up in your grill.
“Serious Guy” has a PDF file set up keeping track of his career stats and all-time pickup game record. He can tell you precisely all that’s happened each time he’s stepped out on the court because remember, it’s the NBA Finals.
4. “The Jerk/Likes to fight Guy.”
“The Jerk” and “Likes to fight Guy” are one in the same. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and plays like it. Don’t confuse that aggression for effort, because “The Jerk” is a lousy teammate and does nothing to help his team win. It’s all about him.
Everything is a foul. If you blow by him and score an easy duce, he calls you for a travel or a push-off foul.
He’ll call an “and one,” even if he’s nowhere near making that shot. Each time he goes hard to the hoop, it’s a foul.
“The Jerk” is allowed to talk trash the entire game, but if you jab back, he’s ready to fight. Actually, everything is a reason to go. You guard him on D, he’ll try and fight you. You set a screen on him, it’s time throw down.
If you take him to school the entire game, he’ll lay a haymaker in your face. He’s looking for a fight and not a game, and is a flat-out jerk.
If you stand up to him as I did, you’ll pay the price.
If you can’t spot any of these suckers in the first twenty minutes of your local basketball run, then you are one of these suckers.
Categories: The Campfire