I've been going to the same gym since I started my current job, which is about two years now.
Occasionally I half-heartedly lift weights, ride the stationary bike, or swim in the pool, but 90% of my time is spent on the abbreviated basketball court. It has two goals, but the three point line nearly reaches half court and instead of sidelines, there are plaster walls. It is the perfect size for the everyman who has been idle at work for the last eight hours.
It’s hard to say who’s going to show up. I’ve guarded Dominique’s brother, former NBA player Gerald Wilkins, and I’ve guarded overweight 14-year-olds, who, full of fear, shoot the basketball the second they catch it, regardless of location. There are guys who throw themselves alley-oops off the backboard, and a broad-shouldered, overweight guy that plays in wrestling shoes.
Regular players come and go, but there is a handful that I’ve now known for a long time – eight percent of my life to be exact. It’s strange to consider, but during this time period I’ve seen these guys more often than my parents, my friends, and just about anyone else.
I don’t know much about them outside of the gym. I know James is a cook at Wild Wings, just because I’ve seen him there. And supposedly Stat is a rapper, but I’ve never heard any of his tracks.
I do know who is going to be a ball hog, who will make an overdramatic fuss if they don’t get the call that they want, and who will give me the best chance of winning.
Despite conversations that rarely meander far from the world of sports and entertainment, I feel like I know these guys. I know them by the way they carry themselves. I guess a big part of it is their consistency. Same time every day, same jokes, same ugly jump shots.
Basically they're my bros:
DZ – 5’5” Guard. He’s round. He’s loud. And he will literally lay on the court until he gets his way. Loves to shoot, and although he rarely makes it, when he does, he’s sure to make a spectacle.
Damien – 6’3” Guard. One of the best players. Always sporting a backwards cap. Kind of a jerk, but nice if he’s winning.
Chris – 6’4” Center (280 pounds). My arch rival. He’s considerably stronger than me, but luckily he’s lazy.
Ivan – 5'9" Forward. Jovial, but unexplainably slow mentally. His left arm is seriously attrophied and cannot support the ball on its own. Loves to joke around.
James – 5’10” Forward. Quietly confident, except when he’s not quiet. Usually among the first to arrive, last to leave.
Cliff – 6’ 1” Forward. Ultra aggressive. Our heads butt occasionally, but if I’m 48 and have an attitude like this guy then things must have turned out pretty good.
Ado – 5’ 8” Guard. His typically broken English is interrupted by his catch phrase, “Let’s play,” which he yells every time before the ball is checked.
Jay – 6’3” Guard. My main teammate. Probably the best athlete in the gym. Can take over, but makes a point of involving his teammates … if he feels like it.
Russ – 6’ 0” Forward, overweight and overconfident. He played for about four months with a cast on his shooting arm. This didn’t stop him from taking shots five feet behind the 3-point line.
Me - 6'3" Forward. Sweatiest guy on the court. The kind of sweat where his t-shirt maintains a consistent color because it is all drenched.