Game Time. Class Time. Time Invested.

I had a shitty academic week, so I took it out on the hoop court on Friday night.

And then I wrote about it.

(I showered first.)

….

It’s the tempo of basketball:

the freestyle-the jazz-the avante garde method of thinking-acting-and-reacting.

That’s what I love about the game.

Wanna be a baller, shot caller... (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
Wanna be a baller, shot caller… (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

I’m 5’5 and to be honest- that doesn’t really work to my advantage on the hoop court. But I’m quick, I have good vision, and above all: I think really well on my toes. I adapt.

In the classroom- during discussions- I’m usually in the middle of the discussion- throwing out my insight. Another example of thinking on my toes. But when it comes to reading a 20-page affidavit in one sitting, writing an 800 word article in ninety minutes, or sifting through the shit-loads of emails we get sent daily… it takes a totally different method of thinking:

Thinking on your heels- (if you will).

It takes time. And seeing growth from time invested is a wonderful thing.

Through my experience thus far in the classrooms of Cal Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, I’ve grown.

Multitudes.

Clarification: I’ve grown = I’ve made mistakes… but those mistakes have been my lessons. My ability to spell, write, and take notes have hit a j-curve. My comprehension of English has grown to the point that I’m now understanding Spanish better, un poco. My eye for details in the world has increased my ability to dress…

(I got a compliment on my fashion from a cute girl the other day- go figure?)

…  And this is only the first month.

Yeah, there’s nothing like growth through time invested.

I bought a basketball a little less than 3 months ago- I play quite regularly.

I mean, I suck. But I’m getting better.

I like to hoop by myself with my headphones on- early in the morning, it gets the blood flowing. I also hoop with my homies- I hoop with random homies…

Last weekend, I hooped with my ten year-old niece… she made more consecutive shots than I did.

(She was in the key, I was shooting from 3) … (That’s an attempt to cover my own ass).

She shoots. She scores.
She shoots. She scores. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

When my niece made a couple of shots- I saw her face light-up. And that’s why I like to hoop… There are few greater joys in life than seeing that damn ball drop into the net: swishhhhhhhhh….

He shoots. He ...hits backboard. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
He shoots. He …hits backboard. (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

It’s an instant confidence builder. It’s a manifestation of one’s desperate attempt to calculate the trajectory of a leather-wrapped inflated object, through air, and into a metal cylinder… A cylinder that is only twice its size in circumference.

It’s all that intelligent shit… and it’s also Jim Jones’, slightly less intellectually-stimulating-statement of: “Baaaaaaaaallllllllllin,” which is a reference to financial success- and is shown through a hand gesture which originates from the follow through of a made jump shot.

Yeah: made shots- writing- my niece- the hoop court- the classroom…financial success.

Gotta make my shots.

"On the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool. And shootin' some B-ball outside of the school ..." (Photo by Spencer Whitney).
“On the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool. And shootin’ some B-ball outside of the school …” (Photo by Spencer Whitney).

Alright… that was a good post game press conference, I’ll leave ya’ll on this note.

Check out this video of this 5’4 homie getting stooooopid on the hoop court:

And on the topic of evolution/ hoops/ and making media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-OZI0-LhuQ&feature=related

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Ghana Represented.

On Saturday June 26th Ghana’s National team played against team USA, a Second Round World Cup match-up, and the world was watching… even the USA.  As I walked through the streets of Oakland, Ca, I overheard a man say something about how America will only appreciate the USA’s soccer team while the spotlight is on the World Cup, while Ghana’s National team will forever be legends in Ghana. And that was before Ghana won.

Ghana scored early. They dominated the USA team throughout. And in the end, the team sporting one Black star on their jersey’s punched an extra-time goal in the net to send the team from the USA, and all of its 50 stars packing. It was a complete game on Ghana’s part. It was a valiant effort on team USA’s part. It was a game that I’m sure the entire continent of Africa can appreciate on some level, and a game I could sincerely appreciate on all levels.

As Ghana advanced to the Semi- Final round, they represented more than just the last team from an African Nation remaining in the tournament: they represented the 1st free African Nation. They represented Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah. They represented the ancestors of African-American that had went through the door of no return in the Elmina slave dungeon. They represented… hey, they just straight –up got out there and represented.

I went to Ghana when I was 17, it was my first trip outside of the United States. And back then, for all I knew, certain streets in the capitol city of Accra could have been avenues in Atlanta, Georgia. Alright, so I’m being facetious; but the connection between the way of life I saw in Accra, and my life America ran deeper than our common skin tone.

The deep faith in Christianity, the superficial obsession with image, and evidence of rap music’s influence were all embedded in the culture! Oh, and of course the obvious cultural connection: sports!

The entire time I was in Ghana, I can recall people listening to soccer on the radio, and that wasn’t even during the World Cup. And my random eavesdropping is evidence that people in American are watching and talking about soccer.

Well, they were, before team USA lost. Now, I wonder how many World Cup related conversations will be overheard on the streets of the United States? One thing is for sure, those streets in Accra that I thought looked like Atlanta- for years to come, those streets will resonate with conversations of how Ghana’s legendary 2010 World Cup team went down to South Africa and represented.