Saturday, August 2, 2014

Marking Time


I apologize for not updating this blog in nearly two weeks. I was away from my home in Vancouver, Washington, visiting friends in Olympia and Seattle, Washington and I took this as an opportunity to become derelict in my duties to you, the audience who consumes this content like a bee eats delicious, sustaining honey. I am not a perfect person, I have flaws, and not updating my blog when I am on a trip is the worst of my  flaws.


Last Saturday and Sunday I was in attendance at the Seattle Basketball Pro-Am over at Seattle Pacific University. You probably know what a Pro-Am is, so I will spare you that detail. This post is a series of microposts what I saw.


What kind of basketball player do you like? I like pretty much all kinds, but I especially like big guards who can’t jump and get by on cerebral shit. The less athletic, the bigger, and the more cerebral, the better. There should be a seven foot tall point guard who wears cement shoes to prevent himself from jumping.
This is how I became low-grade obsessed with Alvin Snow. Alvin is a Six-Two, broad bodied 32-Year Old Franklin High School and Eastern Washington State University point guard product who last played for Sigal Prishtina in Pristina, Kosovo. He was the Big Sky player of the year in 2004. There are no highlight mixes of Alvin on the internet, he is not a man of the highlight, by nature. He is good at passing and dribbling and shooting but he can’t quiiiiiite jump over a carnival stuff panda, not a lot of gristle for the YouTube fire. He does make an appearance, along with Jamal Crawford, in a terrible video about mental conditioning in professional athletes by what I think is a psychology student that really doesn't get to the core of what she was trying to talk about.
“They’re gonna take it from us!” Alvin’s team, The Stranger Cougars (Named after the Seattle-based free newspaper for filthy adults and “Cool Teens”) had a sizeable lead on Jamal Crawford’s DRG Wolverines, but a dodgy call that went Crawford’s way let everyone know who was in charge. Alvin had not had a great game thus far; enduring the slings and arrows of the peanut gallery: “You gonna score today, Alvin?” “Where’s Alvin?” (Alvin penetrates and dishes for an open look.) “There’s Alvin!” The taunts fueled the man’s fire: he started drilling threes, getting steals that he converted into layups, despite the heckler’s request for dunks. The heckler moved on to Jammal, who responded by mimicking him praying for mercy in tomorrow’s All-Star game. Alvin ended his effort by drilling a buzzer-beating three pointer and staring down our heckler.*
The next day, he came in second in a three point competition. Skills!


On Saturday, the Seattle Basketball Pro-AM had an All-Star Game, a STAR-STUDDED affair that featured the talents of Pacific Northwest NBA stars Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes, Terrence Jones and Zach LeVine, visiting dignitary Wilson Chandler, and a grip of other dudes who play in Europe and wherever. Mike James, who hammered a pretty sweet dunk and drilled eight billion threes the day before, comes to mind. Alvin Snow was also there, slinging passes to other backups. Before this game there was a three point shootout, a dunk exhibition that Zach LeVine used to generate content for BallIsLife (Their guy was running around in a red t-shirt and jeans) and a game between two youth basketball squads. When I’ve relayed this story to people in real life I’ve been telling them the kids were eight years old, but I’m not really sure about that.
There was one kid on the black team wearing #33, there was also a white team, they had names but who knows, who was extraordinarily good at dribbling a basketball, doing tricks in the layups line and drawing “Oohs” from the crowd that existed in a nominal space between sincerity and irony. Amongst the other children, who are not terribly co-ordinated because they are children who have tiny little legs and small hands, this made him a God who could not be stopped. The Angela Salvadores of Seattle, WA’s eight year olds.
On one play in the second half, 15 minute halves, 33 caught the ball. He was defended by another eight year old child. He dribbled left then right and faked out the other child, who fell down. Then, an entire gym of teens and adults yelled “OOOOHHHHHHH!”
Look, people attending Pro-ams. When the kids come out to play, just try to be respectful. Was it really funny that one eight year old crossed up another eight year old? Yes, absolutely. But is it okay to pull out the And-1 Chants on a kid’s self esteem? I submit: probably not!


The second day, the Pro-Am gave a plaque to Jamal Crawford and declared him “Mr. Washington State.” Jamal has done a lot for PNW hoops, especially in the wake of the Sonics getting poached, but I have a hard time recognizing the legitimacy of a title bestowed on a person at an event he himself organized. If Jay Inslee wanted to get involved, though, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.


The PA announcer had an excellent announcer voice and some fun patter, but he was wearing sandals and t-shirts. If you hire me to be the PA Announcer at your Pro-Am, I promise to wear a suit with stripes and stand up. I will also provide my own old-timey microphone and take pictures with all children, excited to meet their blogging heroes.


I was reading Blazersedge comments the other day, because as a successful blogger on the topic of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball club, I like to know what the people out there are thinking. Meyers Leonard was being discussed and one guy said that he could someday be a “Spencer Hawes type player” in the NBA.
I read this right after watching Spencer Hawes play basketball super close up, and guys, Meyers Leonard is probably not going to be as good at basketball as Spencer Hawes. Do I like Spencer Hawes? No, absolutely not. I’m not fond of his life as a guy who low-key rails on Democrats and he is not great at defense. But he is a fella who is seven feet tall and drills three pointers several steps bast the NBA line because fuck it, we’re at the Pro-Am. He even unleashed post moves, Spencekeem Haweslajouan stuff. The gap between skilled, useful, NBA Player Spencer Hawes and Meyers Leonard is massive. You have to be very good to be in the NBA.


But even then, just because you’re not in the NBA doesn’t mean you’re not unbelievably good at basketball. The three point shootout, played by the same rules as an NBA shootout, was populated by a bunch of Europe dudes who all performed about as well as anyone in the NBA shootout does. NBA Players live in the peak intersections of height, athleticism and skill. The guys out there grinding in random European countries are often just as skilled, they just weren’t blessed with dumb superpowers.


Wilson Chandler was in the All-Star game. He mostly took threes and made cuts for dunks. Even Hawes was doing between the legs dribbling. Wilson Chandler is a true role player, to his deepest core.


Zach LeVine was the most un-Alvin Snow person in the building when he crammed a shit ton of dunks that were on the INTERNET later. Jesus Christ he jumps high as a motherfucker. He is also very thin and he sleeps in a 6-5 thimble. He also missed a lot of three point attempts, but who am I to scout a pro-am, you know.

*Joe Swide, the esteemed editor of Portland Roundball Society and an expert on matters of Seattle basketball was sitting with me and identified the heckler as a former University of Washington player and D-League player. I don’t remember his name off the top of my head.

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