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Basketball Memoir

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Max Andrew Grayton

on 8 December 2014

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Transcript of Basketball Memoir

The birth of my basketball journey and how I came to enjoy playing began in PBA, the Peabody Basketball Association. My first 3 years of PBA were an utter failure, and looking back on it, I have no idea why I continued to play. I didn't want to get anywhere near the ball and when I had it in my hands, it was immediately passed off to a teammate. Although my first few years were a nightmare, it was an important stage I had to get through and learn from, as most players do from the start. The next year in PBA, I was "drafted" by my friends dad, who was the coach of the team, which made me want to get better and actually be able to compete with his son for a starting position. Keep in mind, this was middle school, and PBA was as competitive as it was going to get for kids who hadn't tried out for the middle school teams. I can remember the next 2 years were when I really improved my game, and my friend and I cared less about winning and more about who could hit more 3's, as we counted how many we hit every game, and for the season as a whole. At the end of the brief 10 game season, counting playoffs, where we lost in the second round, I had won the competition 34-30 3 pointers made in the season and there wasn't a sweeter feeling. I played one more season after that which my friend and I were not on the same team, and the team was on was very, very bad... we won a few games, but I knew after this season I was not going to play anymore, and focus on making the High school team. Looking back on my PBA experiences now, it was probably the most fun I had playing basketball on a team, not only because there was no drama, but also because you weren't always concerned with making a mistake, like being on a high school team, and you could just go out there and do your thing.
My idea of street ball as young kid was probably not the same as many others. We always had the sufficient amount of players to have a game in my friend group, weather it be 4, 5, or 6 people, which left us with no need to venture to courts looking for people to play against. it might have also helped that, for the most part, everyone had a similar skill level. My friends all lived in the same neighborhood and throughout the year we would always gather at the end of Dexter street for games. The best part as a young kid was having a hoop that was adjustable, and being one of the tallest out of the group, raising it to a height tall enough for only me to dunk was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The games continued all summer long, and we set teams for good that were fair. We would have 4 outa 7 series' all the time and keep track of wins and loses. As the years past we stopped using a 9 foot hoop and went regulation, along with playing on an actual court, so the out of bound and foul arguments would lessen to a degree, a small degree at that. This time in my basketball journey was the most fun overall, and its were I learned many moves and continued to improve my shooting.
Peabody J Poppas
The J Poppas originated from a phase at the time some of my friends and I would say, so, we decided that was going to be the team name, and we would have it front and center on our creme blue jerseys. The league was Eastern Basketball, and this to me felt like the PBA after PBA. For 5 years my friends and I keep the J Poppas going, some players came and went, but our core four was always on the team. This was summer league ball and really was great to keep in basketball shape for the up coming High School season. As a plus, I played all game every game, which was great and the most fun, seeing that the high school games were going to be a completely different story. Last summer, in the playoffs, we original J Poppas faced the newest team from Peabody, who had fellow classmates Aaron, Jared, and Cody. This game was highly anticipated, with both teams trying to stay humble after each had great seasons. Us J Poppas broke out to a quick lead, but the game was kept close throughout, and in the final possession, a tied game, we had the ball... Only to have it stolen for a breakaway layup. But a great game nonetheless, and I am looking forward for a rematch next summer, if they are up for it of course.
I was somewhat into the NBA before 2007, but throughout and after that year, it became religious (hypothetically speaking) worship. What really got me intrigued was the summer going into 2007, when the Celtics had added 2 star players to their team, as we all know, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. After the previous... I don't know how many years of awful teams, this was the greatest thing that could have happened to Boston basketball, and I certainly wasn't going to miss many games, knowing this wasn't for the long term. As the Celtics cruised into the playoffs they past the hawks in the first round and proceeded to playing the Cavaliers in the semi finals. This series was very entertaining and had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Finally, I was out with my parents at the time of game 7, as we were driving home it must have been the longest 20 minute drive of my life, with a broken radio and no way to hear the start of the fourth quarter, it was madness. We finally arrived home, I bolted into the house to turn on the game, keep in mind this was the 4th quarter of a close game 7, all the seasons hopes could go down the drain if we couldn't stop Lebron. I got the TV on with around 1:30 in the game and it was a timeout. Hearing pierce with 41 points and Lebron with 45 had me kicking myself for not being around for such a great contest, although watching Lebron score 44 would have probably aggravated me even more. Towards the very end it became a free throw contest and I was relieved finally, and excited to be in the Eastern conference finals.
Favorite Pros
Each year it seems there is a new player that I call my favorite, but there will always be those few players that I learned from watching and can still call some of my favorites to this day. From the start I've always liked the way Kobe played, and he was the person I most tried to emulate with his jump shot and post moves. When the Celtics got Ray Allen, he was also someone I tried to emulate because of his shooting style. As the years went on I had favorite players like Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, and now my favorite teams to watch are the Westbrook/Durant duo in OKC, and also Portland because of their offense and how all their starting players are good scorers, so its fun to watch. When i was younger I would also try to emulate the jump shot of players like Kyle Korver, or JJ Redick, because of how they are overall great shooters that specialize in that certain part of the game, and are very consistent as well.
High School Ball
Looking back on my high school basketball experience now, I have mixed emotions to how it was as a whole. Starting off freshman year, before tryouts, I extremely excited for the upcoming 3 day tryout, and felt I had improved tremendously from they year before. The first tryout I arrived and wasn't allowed to play, because of a physical that was late by 3 days. This was rough, because I knew it was going to be crazy hard to make the freshman team with only 2 days of tryouts remaining. At the end of the 3rd tryout, I was feeling pretty confident and as they called names off who didn't make it, my name wasn't called and it was time to start the season.
My freshman year was fun overall, I learned a lot about what it meant to be on a team, and had a good time in practices and games. The start of my sophomore year and the tryouts to make the JV team were a lot different in many ways. tryouts were very surprising to the fact that a lot of kids I didn't expect to make any team did, and a few I expected to make it didn't. The practices that year were much different in my eyes than the freshman team practices, not for the fact that they were more advances since it was JV's, but the atmosphere wasn't the same. Although our team was very good, we ended with high teen wins and only 4 loses, many players didn't get much playing time at all and many had quit after that season. The reason I didn't go back for tryouts the next year is because I found it more fun to play street ball and summer league, it was more rewarding to me, and came with much less of a commitment. It wasn't a huge deal also because I knew I wasn't going to be playing in college, and there was really no point for me to continue high school ball.
Fast Break to Line Break
In the book "Fast Break to Line Break", the story "Two Things You Need Balls to Do", gave great analogies from basketball to poetry and how they are very different, but sometimes similar. An example of a difference she stated that I could relate to was sitting. A very encouraged act in poetry, but on a team, sitting in the game is the worst thing that can happen. Especially going into a game in the middle of a quarter, not warm, not ready to play, you'll be instantly taken out, as I've seen happen many times to my teammates and certainly plenty for myself as well.
There was another comparison I found I could relate to well from the same story by Natalie Diaz, which was solitariness. For poetry, this must be a great way to get out ideas and be in a peaceful place to write, but for basketball it can also be the exact same for some people. In this regard I mean some players may enjoy just going to a court by themselves to shoot around and not be bothered by anyone else, which is a great thing for learning to shoot better and maybe to also relax and enjoy yourself, to escape from the world in a sense. I would enjoy going to a park with just one friend and shooting around for a long time without much going on, I think it is a great thing to do to not only improve your shooting, but to clear your mind and just chill out for some time.
My Basketball Memoir
Max Grayton
The court we play on and that we grew up playing on and learning the game on, in my eyes, is very interesting to look back on and see how it shaped us as a player. Though there are many basketball courts in my area, all of which I’ve played at many times, one stuck out to me the most. My close friends and I call this court “Browns”. One simple reason for the name would be that it is located next to the Browns Pond in South Peabody. This is a small circular pond with trees completely surrounding it. The court is in a cleared out area where there are no trees and also has an area to play street hockey in. The court itself is very old and has cracks on one side where weeds sprout through. We play on the other side. There is also one rim that is doubled and one that isn’t which we like better because it has less bounce when its hit. The backboards have a curvature at the top and aren’t the traditional square backboards at most schools and gyms. One thing my friends and I really love about this court and the main reason why we continue to play here is that the actual court is at the bottom of a small hill. This matters to us because whenever a long shot is missed it will bounce halfway up the hill and roll right back down to us making it super convenient. Also this takes away our fear of shooting deep shots knowing if they miss wide we would be walking quite some distance to get the ball back. Maybe its just me, but on the side we play at I really like the rim and the swish it makes when you hit a nice crisp shot, the rim is perfect in every aspect of my mind. Surprisingly, not many people play there compared to other courts in Peabody with bigger names like James St, or Symphony park which is fine with me because my friend group is 6 people, perfect for a 3v3 every game. The convenience factor also applies again because my friends and I all live within a couple blocks and can bike or walk there with ease. There is no parking lot, but a small area of sand on the side before the hill where there is no curb to park. Altogether, There are no aspects of Browns I dislike making it the ideal court for my friends and I to play at day in and day out.
Street Ball

I really connected with Ridley from “The Assist” the most out of all the players for many reasons. One, he wasn’t known that well from the start, until other players started to spend more time with him and bond to find out each others interests. After teammates got to know him more they started having more fun together and warmed up to each other a lot more. This is very similar to how I am with new people and friends in general, meaning I don’t usually go out of my way to find new friends because I’m happy with myself, but if someone makes and effort to come out and open up to me with their own interests, I’m happy to share my own, and that’s how a friendships starts. It was also interesting to see how the misjudgment factor occurred with players thinking Ridley wasn’t very “hood”, but in reality he was, and had a rough life and commuting through bad parts of the city everyday to school, unlike what people had thought. Similar stories like these I’ve seen a lot of in college and in high school and I like how the author portrayed them very realistically. I also thought a lot of the players from "The Assist" were easy to relate to because of how the author portrayed each of their story.
The Assist
In the film Hoop Dreams, Coach Pingatore comes across to me as a very real person and doesn’t care much of what people think of him. He sets goals for his players to do well in school while staying out of trouble, and works them very hard. In one practice in the movie where William Gates was injured he continued to run his players until they finished the 10-second suicide. This took them many tries as coach continued to get mad after every failed attempt, along with getting yelled at after practice for the lack of hard work the team displayed that day at practice. This shows how “hardnose” of a coach Pingatore was and what he expected of his players. He also comes across as a very intelligent basketball mind, meaning he knows how to coach well and knows a lot about the game from having the job for so long. He had coached many teams that had almost won states and a few that had. Of course some credit due to a player named Isaiah Thomas, but never the less, coach Pingatore certainly knew how to coach a winning team. I can easily relate to how coach Pingatore coached, and my sophomore year JV coach was very similar. It was helpful to see how their star player would react to Pingatore's style because it was very similar to the way our star player would react. For example, when William Gates was coming back from injury, he was very tentative and Pingatore responded by asking if he is not 100%, he should not play at all, so there are no excuses. This was very similar to the way my coach reacted to our best player when he was coming back from injury, where he said he wasn't 100% and coach sat him, like Pingatore would have.
Counting Coup
In the book "Counting Coup", the way Sharon had grown up, the environment and the peoples lifestyles in her family really made it hard for her to stay focused on what was important in basketball and school. I know many friends and people in my life that have gone through similar situations, and how it effected them in negative ways. Having everyone around you live with very few goals and not taking to much action towards anything in their life can be seen everywhere, not just the reservation in Montana. It was really a great story to hear how Sharon overcame that, to a degree, and accomplished a lot for her family and for herself for the situation she was born into. Seeing some of my closest friends do the same is a great thing, but some who lose all motivation and stop caring and using the excuse about where they come from and the situation they were put in as an excuse is very sad. It really shows its all about the person and not the situation they are put in and how anyone can make whatever they want out of life, as it shows in Counting Coup, and real life.
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