By Chris Bernucca
“There’s a lot of woofing going on in the league. Guys do a lot of talking. What I would like to see, since television seems to be promoting everything, is an off-season boxing tournament for NBA players. Let them put on 16-ounce gloves and fight three two-minute rounds. One thing it would do … it would stop a lot of the woofing going on.” – “Pistol” Pete Maravich, in a 1977 Sports Illustrated article
My son plays AAU basketball. He’s not oversized or overly skilled. He’s not very quick and he doesn’t jump out of the gym. His best attributes are a consistent outside stroke and an Antawn Jamison-like ability for getting the ball from the catch to the shot quickly enough to catch defenders off guard.
Oh, yeah, and he doesn’t take crap from anybody.
Last spring, his practices were at a huge gym with five fullcourts that his program shared with other AAU programs. From time to time, teams from his program would scrimmage teams from other programs.
One night, his eighth grade team was matched up against a squad of ninth- and eighth-graders. He drew a kid a little bit bigger than him who immediately tried to establish his size advantage by backing him down in the low post and banging against him while calling for the ball. When my son shoved back, the kid shouted, “Get off me!”
Play went to the other end of the court, and they continued jostling. There was a break in the action as the ball went out of bounds. At that point, my son got close enough to his man and said something just loud enough for him to hear.
“You know, this isn’t a game with referees or fouls or anything,” he said, looking the kid in the eye. “This is just a scrimmage. I’ll punch you in the face right now.”