It’s survival of the fittest time

By: Leigh Montville, Boston Globe

He’s a 5’9” 38 year old back court man whose greatest moments of athletic glory have arrived while playing for the shirts. Or was it the skins? He’s not sure. A sports columnist for the Boston Globe, he often watches the Boston Celtics and finds no similarities between the game they play and the game he plays.

The players have returned to the old gym with the running track around the top and the floor that has been pounded flatter than flat by a thousand sneakers.

The rules are still the same:

  • Never guard a man wearing a bathing suit. Never guard a man wearing Bermuda shorts. Never guard a man wearing wing-tip shoes, Vietnam-green combat boots or a hat. These are the people who will hurt you physically. They mean well, but they will hurt you.

  • Never pass the ball in-bounds after the other team scores. Chances are you will never see it again.

  • If the score is tied and the next basket will win the game, never drive to the basket. There might be a slim chance that your shot will make you the hero, but there’s a greater chance that strange arms and hands will touch strange parts of your body and send you into a space heater at the end of the court.

  • Be suspicious of any player who yells “two” or “swish” or “take it out” the minute he releases his jump shot. If you are supposed to guard him, immediately switch assignments.

  • Refuse to play in any game where somebody can dunk the ball.

  • Never say “in your face” to anyone bigger than you. No matter how outrageous the shot.

  • Never pick someone wearing a knee brace or a college athletic dept. T-shirt or someone carrying a large transistor radio. He has played this game once or twice.

  • If you try to dribble the ball behind your back and you lose it somewhere in the transition between your left and right hands, say that you don’t know how anyone dribbles “with balls like this”

  • Never set a pick on someone who has hair all over his body and who sweats excessively.

  • Refuse to guard anyone who does not have a stomach. That sucker will run you to death.

  • Play with a toothpick in your mouth only if you are very, very good.

  • Never take the charge. Absolutely never. You will lose this argument every time!

  • Expect the game to be different on the days after the Celtics have played on television. If Tiny Archibald, say, or Larry Bird has passed the Houston Rockets dizzy, be prepared for extra passes. If Cedric Maxwell has worked for the inside game, be prepared for that. If Lloyd B. Free has been on the other team, just crank away! Everyone else will!

  • Make sure that the players who don’t have teeth are on opposite teams and guard each other.

  • Once a game, yell for somebody on the other team to pass the ball to you. You always look like a genius if it works.

  • Yell “Watch out!” if your man drives past you and is heading for an easy lay-up. If someone yells “Watch out!” to you, he might not be kidding.

  • If you’ve called for a foul, say “the hand is part of the ball”. Even if you have grabbed the other player’s nose.

  • Never try to break up a fight.

  • Shoot the ball if you have it on a two-on-one break. Shot the ball if you have it on a three-on-one break. Shoot the ball if you get a pick. Shoot the ball if three guys are all over you. Go with the vibes!

  • Call the foul if you miss.

  • Enjoy yourself. Act as if you were still in junior high school. scream. Shout. Spit on the floor. If you sprain an ankle or break it, have a teammate drive you to work where you can say you fell down a flight of stairs and the workman’s comp. will cover the X-Rays.

  • If you win the game, smile and simply say that “we are family.” If you lose, it doesn’t matter. The other team simply cheated.