I’m not great at basketball, but I love it. I’m okay. I mean, the ball goes in. My handle is mediocre but my form is pretty. & as soon as I stop caring what I look like to a court full of men, my games steps up significantly. It’s the comfort, I think. The ease. The increased confidence. It’s in the moment when it’s just me, my ball and whatever Jay-Z track my shuffle has decided to play. I’d been depressed for the past couple weeks because my ball has been flat. It just looked so… Sad. A flat ball is one the most depressing things to witness. It has so much potential but lays there. Useless. Deflating. Dying, sorta. The worst part about it though, is that it COULD be better. I COULD fix it easily, it just took me far too long to find a pump. Sometimes, all it takes is a little effort and minimal time to mend things. The degree of work and length of time depend fully on how much you’re willing to invest. It’s simpler than you think, if you would just take your time. I had gone to the “we sell every-fuckin-thing” store next to my building. They had an $8 pump that stood 3ft high but it didn’t come with the needle for my ball. Some solutions are just worthless, aren’t they? They’ll work for something else… But not every solution is fit to solve your problem. So I went home to my flat ball and hid it under my desk so I wouldn’t have to watch it. Sometimes, it’s easier to put your problems out of view as to avoid the reminders. But every problem has a solution. At least, eventually. Two weeks and $1.49 later… My ball and I were back where we began. Right where we belonged: Between my favorite set of rings in the world.

“You have to love the ball,” he said.

“I know,” I responded.

“You know, love it like it’s a lady,” he went on.

“I do,” I said as I walked away, “that’s why she’s pink.”

People always want to tell you what you already know. To prove they know ANYTHING. Just to hear themselves talk. They want to impress you someway somehow, whole time, needing to take that advice for themselves. Granted, it may be helpful -it might spark some introspective thought- but when’s the last time you got advice that actually meant something? That was useful? Everyone wants to tell you what to do, but they themselves have no idea how. They couldn’t guide you if you paid them. If dude cared about me making my shots, he’d have approached me as an equal. He’d have asked me to play. He wouldn’t have been trying & missing trick shots in my hoop (when he had a whole court to himself). So I was left to figure it on my own. What he didn’t realize is that when I hit the court, I do it for no reason other than to be there. I have no scholarships on the line. No ones counting my attendance. I’ll receive no credit. No one (important) is watching me. I do it for love. Because I love the way the ball feels in my hands. Releasing it exhilarates me. Every time it goes through the hoop, I feel accomplished. I know what that ball does for me. It revives me. It understands me. It moves where i tell it to. There is no reason for me to play basketball except that it makes me happy. Funny… It’s the same way I feel about love.

You have to be weary of who you listen to. Some people just want to talk. Eventually they’ll leave you out in the cold with half a map. Wayne said talk is cheap but it’s actually free. Anyone can say anything to you. Anyone can tell you how score, but who will show you? It’s easy to tell me to love my ball, but I’m positive he’d never be able to tell me how. Never once did he tell me to feel it. To understand it. To hold it in my hands so that I register every individual groove. To connect. To pay attention to the way it rolls of my fingertips. To listen. To wait. To have patience. As I secretly made love to my ball, I understood that all love is the same. It’s listening. It’s paying attention. It’s understanding. You have evaluate how far you are from the destination. How much force you’ll need. You identify whether you’re within your range or not. Are you out of your comfort zone? How much pressure is on you? How badly do you want this? Is this just a game? How long have you been trying to make it work? Trying to improve yourself? How dedicated are you?

There is more to love than a simple sentence. It’s more than a statement. More than just a simple direction or instruction. Love is everything. It’s the hits AND the misses. It’s the shots you take, the ones you shouldn’t have and the ones you know better than to attempt. Life is your practice. You should shoot around every chance you get. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t. But if you get caught up on the missed shots or the lost games, you’ll never find your groove or acquire the confidence it requires to take control. Once you’ve gotten yourself in the frame of mind where you’re fully invested in the current game, you can finally focus. You can anticipate the blocks. You can see the reach and spin off before the hand is extended.

You can’t be afraid to miss. It happens. You practice. You plan. You formulate plays. You play against yourself. You play against your own team. You scrimmage. You play against teams you know you can beat. & teams you know will be a challenge. You face opponents you’ve never experienced before. There’s no telling how any given game will end, but that last thing you should do is sit the bench. At least, that’s the last thing you should want to do. Anyone who loves the game wants to play. All four quarters. They’ll do anything. Practice 5 extra hours a day if that’ll get their game time up. You’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to do it for yourself. Your next opponent might be your most difficult yet, but you can’t back down. Don’t forfeit. A quit is a loss, I’m sure your aware. You never know which game is being watched by whom. Participate.

Play hard all the time. You have to hustle in practice if you want the coach to start you. If you don’t show your ambition and dedication from the beginning –in the moments when it seems it doesn’t matter –how is one supposed to know you’ll be there when you’re needed? Or if you quit after the first loss? You need to be a leader. You can’t give up so easily. Success is most enjoyable after defeat. Destined winners lose gracefully. You can win them all, but you may not. Just prepare yourself for it. You can either hope for the best or try for the best. Hope alone doesn’t accomplish a damn thing. You can hope that ball goes in or you can shoot the ball the way it’s supposed to be shot. You can hope that man loves you like he should or you can treat him the way he’s supposed to be treated. Everything takes work, it just depends on whether or not you’re willing to put in the work it takes to get there. All vehicles need fuel.

Make him happy. Make him feel secure. Make him feel like you prefer him above everyone else. Show him he’s the only one you want. Him. Him & only him. & if you actually feel this way, it shouldn’t be too hard. It should actually be… Natural. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t feel the same way you do. But it’ll take him a lot to turn that down. If you do nothin wrong –no fouls, no turnovers– they can’t hold anything against you. Keep scoring & it’ll be almost impossible for him to take you off the floor. And if he does, well… That’s bad management, and I’m sure there’s another team ready, willing and waiting to pick you up.

I’ll be a free agent until the right deal comes along. Im going pro & i want it all. Benefits. Pensions. If can get, I want it. I deserve it all. I’m in shape. Well trained. Ambitious. Determined. Well-respected. I work well under pressure. I can hold a team on my own if I need to but consciously try to assist my teammates. I’m an overall good player.You’ll see. It shouldn’t take too much convincing.

The only down side to being the perfect woman is involving yourself with the wrong men. The wrong men will love you. The wrong men will try their hardest to be perfect until you have the opportunity to see their true character. The coach may be awfully nice until the season starts. It won’t be until you do wrong -until things don’t go as planned — that you’ll find out who people truly are. I look forward to the bad times because I look forward to the truth. Don’t fear failure so much. Mistakes make life worth living. Consider them your opponents’ chief strategy. They’ll always try to beat you… Just make sure you’ve called the right play as you’re coming down the court. but don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll get the ball back eventually.