Ballin’! Some rules for pick up basketball

I play lots of basketball. Aside from eating , music and tv, it’s probably what I spend most of my time doing. This in no way is a claim of great skill , more just to let you all know that playing ball (aside from being my only form of exercise) is a big part of my life.
When I was about 11, I first set foot in Cereveli park. I went there with a friend and we both got robbed for our bikes. Good times. Blind to this robbing being an issue, we kept going back (without bikes). Instead of riding around in circles , we opted to play basketball. Well, it’s 22 years later and , while I’ve long lost contact with that friend, I still go there on a regular basis. It’s like a second home to me in many ways. I know everyone who plays there. They know me. It’s a nice family like environment where the occasional broken bottle fight might break out. Whatever, no family is perfect.
I think the thing about this park I love, as an amateur sociologist, is that it is a great study in learning about people. Ricky Powell (who used to play at the very same park) once said “You can really tell a lot about someone from how they play ball”. He could not be more correct. Playing basketball with someone really takes down the walls on some people’s personality. This doesn’t mean that if a dude is a nice guy but on the court he’s a total animal, he’s a bad person. Not at all. But, much like heavy drinking, certain personality traits in people pop out only when they’re playing sports. Mostly things involving pride and competitiveness. Two things, personally, I think are extremely over rated but also very necessary to playing sports. The thing is, neither of those traits are particularly bad but when basketball is concerned, people tend to treat pointless pick up games like they’re ready to die for a win.
In order to quell such behavior, I think there should be some new rules added to the game to make things go smoother and just make the overall pick up basketball experience that much more enjoyable.

Rule #1 : No Tantrums allowed
As, I’ve written before this is a quote I hear more often than not at the courts:
“What?!?! son, I’m a grown ass man! you can’t tell me what to do!”

This usually is said following a disputed call where the person yelling knows they’re wrong but they’re too proud to admit it. It also tends to lead to the quote “whatever!” or in the worst case “how bout I cut you and your man up?”. That’s always nice. This type of person is not only an asshole but also has the emotional depth of a 12-year-old. Throwing tantrums in unorganized sports is pretty much the corniest thing anyone can do. Seriously, get yourself together and hold your head. No one is making money and no one gives a shit. The fact I’ve seen countless fist fights over bad calls is telling. We’re all too old for that shit. Leave the fighting to the children, as they are the future.

Rule #2 Be aware of shit talking. Use it with caution.
If I don’t know you, shut the fuck up…again, refer to the whole unorganized sports thing. “In your face!” is fine (if not completely dated and lame) when you’re playing with a friend or someone you hate but if you’re strangers and that shit starts , you just sound like a douche bag. I realize shit talking is how many players gain mental advantages over opponents, but once it crosses into any sort of aggressive beef-like tone, it needs to end. Unless, of course, you happen to be a grown ass man and can’t nobody tell you shit. Then, by all means, do you.

Rule #3 Stop yelling at your teammates.
Sure, sometimes you play with a retard who doesn’t ever pass and eventually you gotta be like “yo, pass the ball.” That usually has no effect on anything but the thought is there. But if you’re playing with someone who’s honestly trying and getting burned on defense, let it go…shit happens. If you’re playing with someone who is obviously out their element or just a bad player, yelling at them isn’t going to fix that. I’m still waiting to meet the pick up basketball guy who reacts positively to being yelled at. Like it inspires him to be a better player. If anything, yelling at your teammates will take them further out of the game. Again, this is not serious sporting. It’s pick up basketball.

Rule # 4 Know how to set picks
Be careful, Motherfucker! Some people mistake picks for a football tackle. Even worse, a moving pick is a lowlife move at street courts cause if you call it, you look like an asshole but it totally does fuck shit up.

Rule # 5 limit the bad calls
Chill with the stupid “carrying” calls…most people dribble like that. You could call it on anyone under the age of 30. To me, there’s nothing worse than the bail out foul call. You know you barely got touched yet , because you blew an easy lay up, you call a foul. That’s some bitch made shit right there and pretty much the most common call you will see on the court.

Rule # 5b NO “AND ONES” !
For those who don’t know, an “And one” is when someone calls a foul and the ball goes in. In pro sports, this basket counts. In pick up, it’s highly debated. well, Fuck that shit. It should not be debated. If you call a foul in pick up ball, you do not get the basket. That’s some weirdo soft suburban/L.A. bullshit that makes no sense at all. It allows pussies to call a foul every time they get touched. Fouls should only be called when they’re real. Ticky tac foul calls have no place in pick up ball. By not getting the basket on a foul call, it makes the shooter think before they actually call the foul. It also makes the game go quicker. It’s the only fair way to do it and it blows my mind that people let that shit fly.

Rule # 6 Don’t take fouls personally
Getting mad at someone fouling you is a waste of time. It’s part of the game and RARELY does anyone have bad intentions. In most cases it’s someone driving to the hoop hard and drawing contact. Guess what? Are we supposed to say “ol’e!” and let you through? No, we go for the block and sometimes miss. Boo hoo bitch ass, you got fouled. You still get the ball so quit thinking the world is out to get you through fouling in a pick up basketball game. Another personal peeve of mine relating to this is the “always hurt” guy who acts like every time he gets fouled he needs to be taken to a hospital, only to reemerge 5 minutes later totally fine. Fuck that guy. He wastes everyone’s time and deserves to actually get hurt because of it.

Rule # 7 What happens on the court stays on the court.
Don’t be like one of those dudes that beats their wives cause their team lost the super bowl. Just let it go. You catch beef with someone on the court, let it go. Tomorrow is a new day. No holding grudges. That is something girls do in high school locker rooms.

Rule # 8 Don’t coach me, bro
Listen, we’re all amateurs here. I don’t need anyone in a pick up basketball game explaining to me how to play or trying to set up some magical play that simply isn’t gonna work. Mind your own business. If you see a pick coming for me, lemme know. If you wanna switch on defense, lemme know. Communication is a good thing. Just make sure it’s that. Otherwise, I simply do not wanna hear it. I don’t care how good you are. The bottom line is your in the same game as me so you can’t be THAT good.

Rule # 9 Don’t quit
Sounds corny but it’s kind of an unspoken rule. People who walk off the court in the middle of games are big pussies. Unless you’re leaving a situation in order to avoid violence, it’s not ever OK. But it’s not just those people, almost as bad are the people who stay on the court but give up. I know it sucks to be down by like 10 baskets. I’m not asking to bust your ass but at least play a little defense and , if given an open shot, take it. Don’t just meander around the half court , brooding like a sullen vagina. Shit, we’re mostly here for exercise any way. Use the garbage time to your advantage.

Rule # 10 Wear deodorant

There’s a dude I play with at the park who smelled like burnt assholes for the first few years he came to the court. Eventually , someone hipped him to “deodorant” and it fixed everything. I know stinking can work as a defense mechanism but , seriously, chill with that shit.

This last one isn’t really a rule, but more just advice. It’s fairly obvious but it needs to be said.
This advice obviously extends way past basketball but, man, I’ve seen some of the most socially dysfunctional people playing ball. It’s truly amazing.
There was this one dude who used to play at the park. He was a short asian dude who everyone called Bruce. Except, his name wasn’t Bruce. They called him that cause he was asian and this was in the 90’s when (to insensitive project kids) Asian = Bruce Lee. The thing is, he just accepted it. I remember one day I called him by his real name and he was all shocked. I think he even thanked me for it. Whatever…This dude, by all accounts, was a nice guy. A dork even. One day I got to the courts kinda early and only Bruce was there. We were shooting around and this father and son joined us. The dad was in his 50’s and his son was about 14, and very learning disabled. Like “spot it across a room” level disabled. They ask if we wanna play a friendly 2-2 game to pass the time and we agreed to it. I was going super light on them as neither were any good and , well, the kid was literally retarded. Bruce, however, was playing really hard. He drove to the hoop and the kid fouled him (not hard). Bruce snapped” watch the fucking fouls!”. I was shocked. I looked at the dad as if to say “jesus dude, I’m sorry.”. The game continued. Again, Bruce blew up at the kid. I pulled him to the side and told him to chill and that the kid was obviously not all there. He nodded and we continued. Within 2 minutes, he pushed the kid against the fence and was ready to throw hands at him but I intervened. We stopped the game and the father and son sheepishly walked away, in awe of what Bruce had just done. I was too. When they left I asked Bruce what the fuck was wrong with him and all he could say was “Someone needs to teach that fucking kid how to play defense” as he stormed off. A few weeks later, bruce got snuffed twice by two puerto rican kids and was one wrong word away from getting a bottle smashed over his head. Can’t say I pitied him much that day.
So , yeah, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, especially when dealing with basketball and the pride of crazy people.

Wow, this blog is soooo for the ladies! where my hoes at?

14 thoughts on “Ballin’! Some rules for pick up basketball

  1. Nice post. All good rules to follow.
    One you forgot though,
    No flopping & taking charges in streetball.
    This shit kills me. Not only is this a terrible rule in the NBA, its an easy way to hurt someone & a strait pussy move. Here in Cali you got all these F’in Laker fans thinking just cause they spent 200$+ on their Authentic Laker gear they’re Derek Fisher on the court. Fuck taking charges!

    Also as a Warriors fan, you’re welcome for trading your Knicks Anthony Randolph, that guy is legit and going to get crazy #’s in D’Antoni’s system.

    • I don’t see much charge taking in streetball but that’s pretty fucking lame. I suppose you could file that in the “no bullshit calls” rule.
      As for randolph, I’m hoping he’ll get the minutes. With amare and gallinari, it might be tough for him.
      Enjoy David lee though. I promise he’ll be a fan favorite within the first few games (as long as nelsons retarded ass actually plays him).

  2. Blockhead writes basketball’s 10 commandments. As a 10 year vet on the Chinatown pick-up circuit (Columbus Park) I can attest to the wisdom bestowed upon us.
    I guarantee that in 5 years David Lee will be looking like a much better bargain than Stoudemire. Randolph will be good, I’m just waiting for the first day he breaks down in tears on the court. He’s prone to do it, if you haven’t heard.

    • agreed about lee. He could be a monster on the right team. i feel like, without nash, Amare might be a 16 pts 8 reb kinda guy. I mean, fucking Ray felton is out point guard. ughh…

    • I agree about lee but randolph seems like the type who will never get together with any regularity. Watching him play is so frustrating. Sometimes I think he’s literally retarded.

  3. I’m with you on 99% of your tips. The one rule I would debate is the “And1” theory. Whether a game features And1’s or not, I feel folks who want to abuse the system will still abuse the system. Many times, the players who’d call a foul all the time when And1’s count just trade that strategy out in non-And1 games for waiting to see whether a ball goes in before calling a foul. Folks would get on his case for the weak fouls in the first instance and they’d get on his case just as well for making a late call in the second instance. Essentially, I feel there’s a chance there’ll be issues one way or another. A player without honor is a player without honor.

    The reason I support playing with And1’s is I feel a player should be rewarded for making a shot despite being fouled. For me personally, my “call foul” threshold is the same regardless of whether And1’s are being counted or not. I’ll play through slaps, bumps, and hacks. My goal is to only call the real-deal stuff that theoretically provides the defense with a significant advantage were I not to call it. As such, when the heavy duty contact takes place, I’ll call it as it happens. Again, if I’m able to score in spite of my defender having a Bad Boys flashback, I feel as though I should be rewarded, not punished by discounting my hard-earned bucket and having to check the ball up and try again.

    I suppose basketball is different everywhere it’s played but in the region with which I’ve played with the non-And1 rules, games do not speed up because again, fouls are called the same regardless (i.e. they’re reserved for legitimately illegal plays – not slaps, reaches, and bumps). As such, if heavy contact occurs, a foul is called and even if the shot is made, the ball is checked up. In contrast, if And1’s were in effect, a legitimate foul could be called, a shot could be made, it would count (just like it would in every other level of basketball), and the flow of the game would continue.

    Even as a defender, I respect the And1 play. I feel no ill-will toward an offensive player who attempted a shot, was clearly fouled, called it and scored the ball regardless. If nothing else, I am impressed, and I then try to return the favor the other way. The guy who scores while being fouled deserves reward, because he earned it. I don’t feel he should be faulted for calling a heavy foul as it happens. The folks who abuse rules should not dictate how the game should be called. The guy who calls ticky-tacks all the time should be dealt with accordingly. It shouldn’t mean I should somehow be punished for finishing a shot whilst being tackled and having the audacity to call a foul at the same time.

    • I think the And 1 just opens the door for a player to bail themselves out. Sure, so do late calls but I’ve seen plenty of late calls just get ignored because they were were late calls.
      The beauty of not allowing and1’s is that it makes you, the shooter, really reconsider what a foul is. It definitely sucks when you call a foul and hit some crazy shot that goes in…but that’s part of the game. I’d rather that happen than have some asshole just calling every ticky tack foul when he shoots with hopes of the ball maybe going in but ensuring he’s gonna keep getting the ball back.
      IT’s a game of honor for sure but, from my experience, not many people have much honor in pick up basketball so something like eliminating the And1 rule makes it harder on those types to get away with shit.

      In a perfect world, I’d agree that and1’s should count but you simply cannot rely on the honesty and honor of people you play pick up basketball with. I mean, there’s a reason refs exist. I , for one, almost never call fouls because I grew up playing like this so when i play with foul call happy people , it’s infuriating…even more infuriating were to be if they were rewarded for that.

      • Fair enough. I respect that. Every region (and every court for that matter) is different and I suppose certain rules will work and not work. I’ve played on courts that established a healthy respect for the And1 rule and then I’ve played on other courts who steadfastly stood by the no-And1 clause. In both cases things tended to generally work out well unless someone decided to jack things up by 1) calling ticky tack fouls, 2) fouling the bejesus out of folks because they know the only possible outcome will be a check up top, or 3) fouling a shooter very hard, calling a foul on themselves, and insisting the ball be checked up.

        Essentially, I guess my point would be crazy people are sometimes going to screw the system regardless of game setup. With that said, I understand the implementation of a no-And1 rule as a fail safe. I just prefer to fight the fight and keep things the other way. And maybe I’m just in a solid street environment for that type of play right now. People around my way are generally shamed for weak calls and on top of that, we’re relatively stingy on continuation. I guess honor is trending at my park at the moment. I know it only takes one person to bring it all tumbling down though. . .

      • If you don’t mind em asking, where are you from?

        also, in terms of calling fouls for yourself after a hard foul, in that case, if the ball goes in, the point always counts. But I do that sometimes…not to stop play but just to make sure the person wasn’t hurt. Not to mention, if they don’t call the hard foul, sometimes you gotta just give them ball back out of respect for how hard you fouled them.

  4. I’ve spent the last number of years splitting my time between Ann Arbor and a spot on the west side of MIchigan just north of Kalamazoo. Ann Arbor, from what I’ve experienced, tends to be a non-And1 location and the spot on the west side of the state is typically And1 friendly. Surely, in either location I’m not playing within a sprawling metropolis so perhaps that could be a key difference, I would assume bigger cities see bigger player turnover at each park and thus more need for rigid rules to combat the random fellows looking to take advantage.

    For the most part, there seems to be enough regulars at my spots to help establish the rules and abide by them. It’s never perfect, and there’s always going to be disputes but generally speaking, it’s been solid. In your regard, I respect the willingness to count the basket if you the defender called the foul. I had that occur tonight and it was a nice change of pace from folks who try to force me to take a foul even though I didn’t call one.

    In the end, I suppose I’m still cool with either form of playing (And1 or not). I like to think I’m to a point where I’m not calling a lot of fouls anyhow, so it’s nearly a non-issue. I just maintain, on those rare moments where I feel it’s my duty to make a call, it’d be nice to reap the reward of powering through. I suppose it’s just a case of lame people ruining it for the rest of us.

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