*Editor’s note: Originally published in March, 2009, this article is one of the most popular in Seattle Sportsnet’s brief history. It was linked on a number of different pages and message boards, including SI.com, and helped bring in the first wave of national readers to the site. If you haven’t seen it before, check it out.
Many of us enjoy a good pickup game. We head to gyms or parks to get our fix, and most of the time it’s all fun and games. But occasionally, we run into one of these 11 dudes and things don’t go as planned. We all know these guys. They have the ability to implode a team or destroy an entire game. And chances are if you don’t recognize any of the ballers on our list, you may very well be one of them. Uh oh.
11. Weight Room Guy.
Vital Signs: Wife-beater tank top; shorter than average shorts; disproportionate amount of muscle.
Player he most resembles: Dwight Howard, assuming Howard was a foot shorter and had been dropped on his head repeatedly as a child.
Reason we hate him: Weight Room Guy looks like he could be good at basketball. He’s clearly in shape, resembles a shorter version of the Incredible Hulk, and appears to be passionate about athletics. Of course, none of those attributes necessarily translate to the basketball court.
As soon as the game begins, you regret adding Weight Room Guy to your team. Clearly he’s here for one reason and one reason only: it’s cardio day, and the track was full. He’s willing to run up and down court, but that’s about it. On the rare occasion that he manages to grab a rebound or haul in a loose ball (because no one is passing to him at this point), he either dribbles the ball off his foot or throws a laser beam line drive off the backboard; consider it a bonus if he hits rim.
For all his on-court deficiencies, Weight Room Guy isn’t lacking in the personality department. Well, if you consider anger a personality trait, that is. Thanks to all the hormones and pills he consumes, Weight Room Guy is rather surly and hard to get along with. He screams four-letter obscenities after each missed shot, and gets in the face of the opponent when they call fouls on him.
Weight Room Guy’s one good quality is that he quickly loses interest in the game. After one or two runs, at most, Weight Room Guy will leave the floor and head back to the one place he can truly call home, the weight room.
10. The Old Timer.
Vital Signs: Older than you; short shorts; headband; wristbands; sport goggles; jockstrap beneath short shorts.
Player he most resembles: Robert Parish, Larry Nance, or Kurt Rambis.
Reason we hate him: First of all, there are two types of old timer to be aware of. There’s the “Young Old Timer,” for one, and the “Old Old Timer” for another.
The Young Old Timer is generally between the ages of 40 and 55. He plays ball for exercise, and is in complete denial that the game has passed him by. He can kind of keep up with the younger crowd that he plays with, but relies on dirty tricks and an arsenal of ball fakes to hold his own. The Young Old Timer can be a danger to anyone younger than him, because there is no limit to the amount of physical abuse he’ll dish out to win a ballgame. He’ll gouge your eyes, throw elbows at your face, or even yank your ballsack if it will give him an edge.
The Old Old Timer is 55 years of age or older. He’s a bona fide senior citizen and is considerably tamer than the Young Old Timer. The Old Old Timer is in good shape for his age, and is just happy to be able to still play basketball. He’ll generally chat it up with whoever is guarding him, and provide almost no help to the other four members of his team. Don’t fall asleep on the Old Old Timer, however. He may not be quick, but he has a mean set shot, and as soon as you start sagging off him to clog the lane, he’ll knock down a fifteen-footer and embarrass you. No one wants to get schooled by an old man.
9. Pants Guy.
Vital Signs: Wearing long pants of some sort, be it sweats, jeans, or khakis.
Player he most resembles: The scrub who never takes off his warmups.
Reason we hate him: Pants Guy is the walking definition of an enigma. He’s either so good that he doesn’t feel the need to wear shorts when he plays, or so terrible that he doesn’t own any shorts to play in. In general, we immediately assume the latter with Pants Guy. However, when we’re wrong, we’re very, very wrong.
Good Pants Guy seemingly floats upcourt, catching an alley-oop pass before performing a triple axel and throwing down a between-the-legs reverse jam. He lands with a curtsy, then floats to the other end of the court to block a shot. He never sweats. He makes the other nine guys on the court question their manhood. He makes you rethink your dedication to basketball, and generally makes you hate life. He’s also rarely on your team.
Bad Pants Guy usually is on your team, though. And he’s really, really bad. Bad Pants Guy has no business being on the court, no right to look at a basketball, and no reason to be living, in your opinion. You and the rest of your team want to take Bad Pants Guy behind the woodshed and strangle him with those cargo pants of his, then come back and finish the game. Bad Pants Guy has no athletic skill and possesses the power to single-handedly destroy a team.
8. The Poser.
Vital Signs: Brand new Jordans; baller bands; strategically-placed headband.
Player he most resembles: Wayne Chism.
Reason we hate him: The Poser is an optical illusion. To the naked eye, he resembles a basketball player. To the basketball player, he resembles a fool.
The Poser passes the look test with flying colors, but fails miserably when it comes to game time. The actual ability of The Poser varies; some Posers are flat-out horrible, others have their bright moments from time to time. Either way, The Poser isn’t nearly as good as he looks, and is often much worse than he thinks is.
In his own mind, The Poser is Kobe Bryant. In reality, The Poser is an out of control Steve Scheffler with identity issues.
7. Super Quick Asian.
Vital Signs: Asian; super quick; short in stature; completely out of control; appears to be on a combination of crack and Red Bull.
Player he most resembles: Yuta Tabuse.
Reason we hate him: Nobody can keep up with Super Quick Asian. His energy is relentless, and his game tiring. God forbid you ever get stuck guarding Super Quick Asian, because you’ll spend the entire time chasing him around the court. Luckily, Super Quick Asian rarely ever makes a basket, instead opting to run the fast break at a ridiculous pace before overshooting the backboard on a layup attempt, or throwing the ball out of bounds.
Where Super Quick Asian does excel is on defense. If you even try to put the ball on the floor, he’ll take it from you and pull down your pants, leaving you standing there empty-handed and in your boxers.
Inevitably, Super Quick Asian usually doesn’t show up until you’re down to your last game or two. At this point, you’d have a tough time guarding a mule, let alone a human being who possesses track star speed. While he’s just getting started, you’re contemplating suicide, making for a horrible combination of two evils.
6. The Untalented Big Man.
Vital Signs: Abnormally tall; abnormally slow; abnormally uncoordinated.
Player he most resembles: Mouhamed Sene.
Reason we hate him: In the world of pickup, if you can land someone on your team bigger than 6’6″, you’re almost guaranteed a W. Not so, with The Untalented Big Man.
TUBM is a liability. You keep feeding him the ball inside thinking he’ll do something with it, only to watch him dribble it out of bounds, travel, or airball a five-footer. He’s been blessed with a God-given gift that most of us can only dream of — extreme height — and he’s wasted it by sitting on the couch, eating pizza, and generally being a detriment to society.
On defense, TUBM is just as useless. When he isn’t fouling the Super Quick Asian driving the lane for what would have been an overshot layup anyways, TUBM is either out of position or still trying to make his way upcourt. Even the Old Old Timer is gassing TUBM, and you are forced to watch your chance at a win slip away thanks to the guy who should be your ticket to victory.
5. Foul Bitch.
Vital Signs: Calls everything a foul; takes the ball inside on every possession; argumentative and whiny.
Player he most resembles: Manu Ginobili.
Reason we hate him: Unless there’s blood, unconsciousness, or a very blatant obstruction of what would have been a sure bucket, there is no such thing as a foul in pickup ball. Not true in the case of the Foul Bitch, however. The Foul Bitch calls a game tighter than Dave Libbey and has a future as a pompous jayvee referee, should he choose to go that route. The Foul Bitch loves to drive the lane, simply so he can call his fouls after each miss and get the ball right back. Often times, the Foul Bitch will throw up a shot, wait to see if it goes in, then call a foul after the shot fails to drop.
The worst part about the Foul Bitch are his bitchy excuses for making each and every call. By the fourth or fifth questionable foul, you start requiring an explanation for the phantom hack. “On the wrist,” he says, or, “Body contact.” By calls six and seven, even the Foul Bitch’s own teammates are interrogating him, and it’s a foregone conclusion that before the game is done, someone will send him flying to the deck with a foul worthy of the nine or so bitchy calls he made prior to that.
4. Carlton Banks.
Vital Signs: African-American; uncoordinated; not athletic at all; talks like Tony Gwynn.
Player he most resembles: None whatsoever.
Reason we hate him: Let’s face facts. No matter what ethnic race you affiliate with, we all know one thing: more often than not, it seems like black guys are good at basketball. So when you’re playing ball and you happen to take the court with a black guy who sucks, it’s a little awkward. By nature, the black guy who sucks gets dubbed Carlton Banks, who, for those of you that don’t know, is a former character on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that displayed tendencies uncharacteristic of your typical black male (or typical male of any race, for that matter).
The Carlton Banks is a lot like The Untalented Big Man in that you have high expectations for him, and he immediately lets you down. Instead of being one of your impact players, he’s clearly the worst member of your team and probably shouldn’t be on the court. He lacks proper coordination and is repeatedly abused by the man he’s supposed to be guarding.
Much like TUBM, you keep giving Carlton Banks the ball in hopes that he’s miraculously changed since the last possession. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case, and results in just another turnover.
On a positive note, at least Carlton Banks is blessed with great dance moves.
3. The Pick Artist.
Vital Signs: Bigger in stature; usually slow; lacking in all aspects of the game, except when it comes to setting picks.
Player he most resembles: Mark Madsen.
Reason we hate him: The Pick Artist would be a useful role player on a team full of All-Stars, but unfortunately there are few times in the world of pickup where you have more than two or three capable athletes on your team at any given time. Hence, The Pick Artist is rendered useless under most circumstances. Which is really too bad, because when it comes to setting screens, he is the Michelangelo of his craft.
The problem you run into with The Pick Artist is that he cannot be relied upon to provide anything other than the occasional pick. Sure, he has his bright moments. He’ll lay a guy out here or there with the Berlin Wall of screens, or maybe even free you up for an uncontested game-winning shot now and again. But if you need anything more from The Pick Artist, you won’t get it. You pass him the ball and it bounces off his chest. You need him to play defense and he stands there with his hands raised as his man slowly dribbles around him. You need him to grab a rebound and somehow he’s always boxed out. He may as well not have limbs. The Pick Artist was fortunate enough to sprout a massive torso, and that’s it. We should all be so lucky.
2. The Mouth.
Vital Signs: Never shuts up; talks trash; rarely does anything well, but when he does, you’ll hear about it.
Player he most resembles: Gary Payton.
Reason we hate him: We go to the gym or the park to play. We don’t want to talk. We talk all day — to coworkers, to our significant others, to friends. Basketball is our solace. Until The Mouth arrives. That’s when our dream becomes a nightmare.
The Mouth is a single guy who lives by himself and has no friends. The only time he ever interacts with people in a semi-social environment is on a basketball court. Often, he suffers from Little Man Complex and tries to mask his insecurities by talking smack. He has an opinion on everything that goes down during the game, from the fruity picks being set on him, to the credit card hops you have, to your retarded shooting style, to the fact that his wheelchair-bound great-grandmother could get around your sorry D.
The Mouth’s biggest weakness is his physical ability. Simply put, he’s just not that good at basketball. But he knows this, and resolves to keep talking despite the turnovers and missed shots. He’s aiming for a fight, but as soon as you confront him in an attempt to shut his piehole, he all of a sudden morphs into an innocent bystander. His act lasts until the threat of an ass-whooping disappears, at which point he begins yapping again. Nobody appreciates The Mouth.
1. The Gunner.
Vital Signs: Unbridled cockiness; unwillingness to pass; desire to be touching the ball at all times; lackluster defensive effort.
Player he most resembles: Kobe Bryant.
Reason we hate him: The Gunner ruins the game. Part of the fun of pickup basketball is that no matter your talent level, you can get involved and have a good time. Unless The Gunner is around.
The Gunner is pretty good, but thinks he’s NBA-worthy. He doesn’t trust any of his teammates and is absolutely sure that he’s better than everyone on the court. He’ll score all your team’s points, but also take all your team’s shots. On the rare occasion that he passes, it comes with the expectation that you’ll pass the ball right back to him. If you don’t do as he expects, The Gunner gets angry. You won’t like The Gunner when he’s angry.
The Gunner struggles on the defensive end, and often lingers near midcourt waiting to cherry pick on the ensuing offensive possession. He reserves his energy for scoring and scoring only, while his teammates play a box-and-none in his absence.
The Gunner is completely unfazed by the criticism he receives, and would be a playground legend were he not a total douchebag.
On a positive note, it’s highly unlikely that The Gunner has any real purpose in life besides thwarting pickup games, and chances are he’ll one day become an angry old man that can only cling to the memory of pickup games gone by to keep him warm at night.