It's 1993ish. I'm with my brothers at the local park, complete with three full basketball courts. As we're shooting around, playing a HORSE or 21 game here and there, another baller joins the fray. He sets up shop on the court next to us. This guy is fresh from the mall--trust me, you know the type. He needs to be added to this list, which is dead on:
He's rockin the fresh Jordan jersey, the new Air Jordan shoes, the low socks, the long Nike basketball shorts. He definitely looks the part of a baller, but his game looks like it leaves a lot to be desired. He's doing fallaways, determined drives, and shooting pullups like nobody's business. Somewhere, I guess, a college recruiter is watching.
He even has the tongue going. The tongue wags, just like UNC's native son. His game, at least when he's playing on a deserted court in front of no one and against no one, is quite Jordanesque. Though he is far enough away that I can't hear what, if anything, he is saying, I'm pretty sure it would have been, a la Dave Chappelle, something like "Jordan!" or "Kobe!" like we all said when we were 12 or 13.
But this guy is at least in his mid-30s.
For myself and my brothers, there is no greater indignity than being That Guy, trying to hold on to lost talents, holding on to a world spinning in its way to throw you off. Full of youthful ignorance and the transparent bravado of life's uninitiated, we trade jokes about him, incredibly confident that we will never be like him.
Today, as I went through the rim touches, the jump rope, the running, I had the horrifying thought: "Am I that guy?"