one of the best experiences i ever had growing up was when i was like 10 or so.
i was at this all-boys summer camp outside of Washington DC at a place run by these Jesuit priests.
a lot of kids, like me, had families who could afford the camp where we learned a lot about sports, arts & crafts, and religion. but we also learned a lot of interpersonal skills because some of the boys were very poor and it was obvious that they were allowed in through scholarship.
which was fine by me because as someone who prided himself as an athlete, there’s nothing better than to be “set straight” by a poor black boy on the basketball court who could almost dunk at 11 years old.
besides being humbled, there are many lessons in losing. one is to watch how the winners handle themselves. it was here that i learned the oft misunderstood art of trash talking.
since i was light-skinned and, according to them, Rich, they called me every name in the book as they taunted me at half court, alternating their dribble from one hand, through their legs, to the other.
one particular little boy, no shirt, masking tape holding his shoes together, black socks, scars, fucked up teeth, alerted me that he was going to pass to his teammate, accept the pass back, fake to the right, drive to the left and lay it up with his left hand.
he passed it to his dude, who popped it right back at him, he held the ball over his head and flinched to the right, and because im dumb, i went for it, he dribbled left right past me and, as promised, laid it up with his left hand, which he kept up in the air as he trotted back down the court.
while some quit playing basketball that summer, i continued, because i loved their confidence, skill, and style. and to this day, when called out, i like to, in a way, call my shot right before i do it. i think it’s funny. i think it’s what separates Bird from Magic – and who doesnt wanna be Magic?
but what the critics don’t appreciate is in order to do it, the skill has to be there, because if you miss, now you are fodder for ridicule and blacktop talk is worse than any