Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Humble, Young Man, Humble


By far my least favorite part of pick-up basketball games are the rare times when I'm a captain and have to pick my own team. It's hard to judge the talent and athletic ability of guys you've never played with before. With little to go on, you would think I'd simply pick the tall guys or the muscular guys or, let's face it, the black guys; but really it's a crap shoot as to what you get. Sometimes the tall guys can't shoot. Sometimes the muscular guys are slow. Sometimes the black guys can barely dunk from the free throw line. You really just don't know what you're gonna get. That's why I only have one rule when picking a basketball team... or any kind of sports team for that matter: don't pick the guy wearing the braggy Nike shirt.

You know what I'm talking about. Those shirts emblazoned with the big, bold font that reads something obnoxious like, "YOU'VE BEEN SERVED" or "I GOT GAME" or heaven help me, "BEASTMODE." It's not that I hate the shirts -- well, I kinda hate the shirts -- it's that without fail, the guy wearing the shirt is never any good. In fact, the more boastful the shirt, the less "GAME" he got. Trust me, if you're ever picking a basketball team at your local gym, don't pick the dude in the "BEASTMODE" shirt. You'll be down by ten points wondering if his three bricks, seven turnovers, and five Gatorade breaks are part of "BEASTMODE" or if he's waiting for just the right time to start playing some gosh dang defense.

Aside from my dislike of the slogan shirts within the context of a pick-up basketball game, I just don't like the idea of self-aggrandizement. It's a no-win situation. If you can't back up your own crowing, you look bad, and even if you are as good as you say, you still come off looking like a jerk. That's why I propose Nike should produce a new line of slogan shirts; tees with meek, self-effacing slogans such as:

TWO-INCH VERTICAL
SET SHOT HERO
LAY-UP MASTER
NO, I'M NOT LEFT-HANDED
I KEEP BENCHES WARM
SECOND-STRING THEORY
I GOT GAME... OF THRONES ON DVD
LEASTMODE

Leastmode. Now that's a shirt I could wear. If I stink up the gym, well, at least I warned you. If I score a few buckets, hey, everyone's impressed. Either way, I don't look bad. I doubt Nike would get behind an idea like this. Cockiness sells, humility doesn't. In the end, I guess there are worse things in the world than a few guys at the gym wearing unsubstantiated t-shirts. Still, I think the sports world could use a little less Nike -- and a little more Just Do It.