When it was established that The Dell, the courts next to Ruffner Hall at UVA, won Best Place For Pick-Up Basketball, C-VILLE dispatched four staffers to the scene on a Wednesday evening in July to check it out.
The four were wily veterans Brendan “Danny-Ainge-But-Taller” Fitzgerald, Will “Kevin McHale-But-Shorter” Goldsmith, Jayson “Jo Jo White” Whitehead (nicknamed in honor of past Boston Celtics greats), and, um, me. True, I played so much basketball as a kid that my fingertips were perpetually missing layers of skin—if I had committed a crime, the police might have had a devil of a time getting a good fingerprint for my record. But at this point my youth is pretty much lost. Still, with three strong links, we had a decent team, and were hoping to encounter four other players and challenge them to some half-court games.
What we found were two others to form a three-on-three with. Say hello to Blake: a dude to whom winning or losing is a life or death affair, and who concentrated more on barking out instructions than playing the frickin’ game. And Jason: a self-confessed out-of-shape smoker with a penchant for letting shots fly from tremendous distances.
Game one: By a vicious trick of fate, one team consisted of Blake, Jason and me. Need I say we lost? But I do need to report the score: 11-1. (I’m the one who made our lone basket, I’m sort of proud to say). The other team—Brendan with the post moves, Will distributing and driving, Jayson hitting nothing but net—were wicked good.
Game two: This time, it was Blake, Brendan and me. We were down 5-2 when, slicing between two defenders a la Allen Iverson, I lost my footing and caromed off of one of the metal bars holding up the backboard. No comment. But, like Paul Pierce firing up the Celtics after coming back from an injury in game one of this year’s NBA Finals, my recovery seemed to light a fire under my team. It was 8-8 at one point, and then Jason, Jayson and Will put together three straight baskets and won 11-8. What a game.
So, in the end—no surprise to C-VILLE readers—The Dell came through for us. And to our new friends Blake and Jason: Just kidding with you guys earlier. It was fun, man. Keep it real.