In basketball, just as in life, there are people who do shit and people who watch other people do shit. The watchers in the cheap seats provide the smack talk while the players on the court sweat, defend, dribble, drive, and try to prove themselves to each other, to the world and, most importantly, to the person on the other side of the mirror.
Smack talk. It is everywhere. It is a part of life. It is a part of the game.
But the reason they call it the game is because it has to be played. Not watched. Not talked about to your son or daughter many years later, rocking in your chair sipping a mint julep.
“Son, I once saw this game where—”
The game demands effort. It demands guts. And it pays out in glory. And bruises, cuts, and broken bones which separate you from the naysayers, the could-haves, and the would-haves.
Chirpers chirp, players play. And because you know failure and loss are temporal concepts you tie your shoelaces, roll out to the nearest court, and ask who’s got next.
The game is the game.
You play it to the best of your ability or you watch from the cheap seats.
The court is where legends are born and myths are exposed. Pretenders are sent flying and tumbling to the ground; Achilles’ heels exposed to the air after committing to a cleverly executed fake shot are snapped; eager, hoop-bound dribblers have their lay-ups swatted out of the air; slow and flatfooted defenders are swung around by inch-perfect tosses of the ball; brand monkeys sporting the latest kicks and jerseys are sent home packing by kids in torn sneakers and old shirts; and, reedy characters who were probably picked last for every team in life silence shit talkers with floating jump shots and no-nonsense plays which humiliate the self-proclaimed kings and queens of the playground.
Someone has to jump for the ball. Will it be you?
Someone has to take control of the ball. Is it you?
Someone has to steer an attack or coordinate a defence. Why not you?
Someone must take responsibility for scoring. Does this sound like you?
And someone must try to thwart the other guy. Come on, this isn’t you?
Someone must win, and someone, eventually and inevitably, must lose. What side of the scuffed Nike sneakers, swearing, shoving, desperate defending, cold bucket drains, and sweat do you want to be on? The winning side or the side that slinks to the sidelines, waiting for their chance to play again?
Tie your shoe laces. Take the rock. Pass the rock. Swing the rock. Shoot the rock. Dunk the rock. Do not drop the rock.
The game and the court; the court and the game—and the cheap seats. They are always found together.
Welcome to the game, kid. Press play and play.
Smack Talk From The Cheap Seats is sweat-soaked playlist made for sly, opponent-deflating fade-away jumpers; hurricane cross-overs which blow markers away; snapped ankles which send the watching crowd into howls of derision; and bruised egos only victory can soothe.
DURATION: 1 hour 19 min (19 tracks)
MOOD: Competitive; not taking the L today; who’s got next?
NOTABLE ARTISTS: DMX (It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot; …And Then There Was X); Wiz Khalifa (Rolling Papers; ONIFC); 50 Cent (Get Rich Or Die Tryin’; The Massacre); The Game (The Documentary; Doctor’s Advocate); Dr Dre (The Chronic; 2001), and Jay Z (The Black Album; Magna Carta Holy Grail).
Author’s note: The cheap seats are everywhere the hustle can be found. Silence them. Loudly.