Today I was hit in the face twice while playing basketball. Unless you were there, you wouldn’t have seen it that way. You would have thought I let someone punch me twice… whilst smiling in their face.
Anytime I get on the court, I get hit hard. And I understand and accept why. It’s not because I talk (a lot of) shit. It’s not because my teams win (a lot) more than they lose. Nor is it because I foul or push hard.
I get hit because it’s very difficult to stop me physically as I’ve become quite strong over the years. Unbelievably strong. Deceptionally strong. And with this new base of Tai Chi… whew, I’m much more grounded.
Today, I laughed as I watched this frustrated man attempt to be physically aggressive with me while I danced around what would be the space of an UFC octagon.
I laughed because for me this was all a part of how he plays basketball and shows his frustration. If I thought this were a fight, there would have been a totally different ending to it all.
The first punch to my face was softened by my beard and weakened by a quick roll. I then started my repeated inquiry of “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
As I’m looking at this dude, I recall observing him on the court 30 seconds prior. Only 2 points into the game and he was already gasping for air, moving slowly and trying to recuperate.
When he first hit me, it didn’t even register, as there was no immediate threat to my well-being. I’ve been hit 5x as hard while playing on any given day. So for me, this was all in a days work. I get scars and bumps each time i compete because of how physical you must be to effect my game. If you don’t touch me, you will lose the game.
Considering this dude is 6’3″, 280lbs… and his first hit felt like the fouls from Joel or Downer, I began to smile. With how he punches and lunges forward, one hip dip and pull from Tai Chi classes would have had him on the ground face first. Again, these are my thoughts as this is taking place. I will not have a fight over a basketball game. This is dumb shit. I will not sacrifice my peace and beautiful moment in such a way.
Only pride could have convinced me to engage this unwarranted angst. In front of maybe 15 irrelevant onlookers who matter not in my day-to-day, and at the cost of my peace… it wasn’t worth it.
The 2nd punch came and went; hitting the same place. I didn’t feel a thing. I thought of throwing a bike at him, yet instead, I used it to create space… all while looking at him with a smile asking, “What the fuck are you thinking?”
After these first 2 hits, I realized that this dude posed no physical threat and that this was really STILL just a frustrated basketball player. I mean, truthfully he’s not a basketball player. He’s someone who enjoys playing the game on rare occasions. He couldn’t out shoot, jump, pass, run or rebound me even if i were barefoot with a broken toe.
When I grabbed the bicycle, I thought of two things. I thought of when I busted a guys skull open with a desk for smacking me in the back of my head. And I thought of how I broke the record on a punch-strength machine against a weight-lifter and a MMA fighter. I put the bike down and continued to stay within a punchers reach while continuing to ask him what was going on. I wanted him to be present.
Today, I did not engage because this was a basketball moment. After he calmed down, or tired out, I couldn’t tell because he was out of breath, I stayed in his face and asked him to continue playing. The confrontation was over. His tantrum was over and now we can get back to playing.
Of course he didn’t return to the court. I asked him what the moment was about and he said respect. I stated that he gained no additional respect from me. I told him that he was frustrated. He apologized for his actions and that was that.
Had I chosen to react and engage this man… I wouldn’t be in a position to write this note. I’d be in jail, likely set to be deported to The Hague. It’s a good thing I’m patient, aware and built like a rock. But if this weren’t a basketball moment, I would have let him get the first punch in because the rest is self-defense… and very EASY WORK.
I’m starting to really enjoy the nuances of life!