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Out of My League: The Decision 2019

When it comes to learning a new sport, the best thing to do is throw yourself into it completely, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Basketball Hoop by Shannon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Out of My League: The Decision 2019


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

By now we are all aware of my penchant for America’s Favorite Pastime. Time and time again, I have taken to my keyboard and railed against Scott Boras, felt the need to cleanse my soul and stand up for truth, reveled in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry and hated my chosen life as a Mets fan to existential lengths.

The one thing I can’t really do is talk much about other sports.

I am what you would call a surface-level connoisseur of other sports. You know how there’s always one guy who is friends with your dad, who just parrots the drive-time sports radio opinions? That’s me. I do that. I just happen to get a lot of different opinions.

That’s not to say I don’t know what I’m doing. I very much do. I’m educated in my opinions and filling the holes of my sports brain with any information I can. There’s having your own ideas and having someone else’s ideas but selling them as your own. Why would I try to be Jalen Rose on Get Up, if we already have Jalen Rose on Get Up? You follow?

What I’m saying is it’s all tertiary. If I’m going to write a piece for this site about a sport I’m not familiar with, I do all the research I can. But more times than not, there’s something missing.

A personal connection.

Now, certain sports I’ve written about on this site come from a personal connection.

However, there’s one sport that’s missing from the Big Four.

Basketball.

As we’ve seen in the past, I don’t know what a foul is, I’m unaware of what it takes to win a 3-on-3 Olympic Gold Medal. I’ll be the first person to admit, that I know nothing about basketball.

Growing up a short, pudgy, Bruce Bogtrotter clone, I never took to basketball the way I did with other sports. My first basketball jersey was a Sylvester the Cat Space Jam treasure. So, not even a real player, and not even the best player on the TuneSquad. Air-Balling all over the place from a young age.

Then, of course, playing basketball was its own hell. I’m a big fan of sports with built-in resting periods. Baseball gives you a 20-second break in between pitches, football even more time, and as a soccer goalie, it felt like I had all the time in the world.

The constant back-and-forth in basketball had me winded like Mick Mulvaney trying to defend Mick Mulvaney. It was something I was never ready for.

I was never going to be good at basketball.

So, I turned my back on the sport. I didn’t have the ability to play it. I just missed the Marcus Camby UMass years of NCAA ball, and I was in the throws of Rick Pitino hell at the Fleet Center.

So I gave up. I didn’t even watch the Celtics win it all. I listened to it on the radio at my older brother’s hockey game, a game I very well could have stayed home from.

So now, I’m diving back in. I’m going to learn the game of basketball by religiously following one team that I don’t have a connection to. If I’ve been able to fall back on a personal connection to fuel my love for three sports, I’ll need to create one for the fourth.

So the question now becomes, what team did I pick? What was the criteria? How do you choose?

There’s no way I was going to be lazy about this, so I sat down and made a list of teams. There were, of course, the teams I didn’t want to pick. These are easy choices. Any team in the 2019 NBA Playoffs were immediately out. Warriors, Raptors, Rockets, Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Nuggets, Celtics, Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Pistons, Bucks, all of them were out from the jump.

Mainly, I didn’t want a team that had won a recent championship or who has had solid success over the last three years. I wanted a team I could grow with. My ideal team was one that is still learning who they are. The list continued to shrink as I crossed off the Grizzlies, Heat, Timberwolves, Wizards, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Bulls and Hawks.

More specific, I did not want a team within my own proximity. In order to truly immerse myself in a franchise, I needed to be outside of it. I’ve learned, as a New York transplant, that everyone has their own experience with New York sports teams.

My Mets experience is different from my wife’s, and that’s mainly due to who we get our news from. She’s solely broadcast-based, and I’m all over the place. But I can also get opinions and thoughts from the hot dog guy on the corner. I needed to separate myself completely. The Knicks were gone. Thank Christ.

I also didn’t want the Los Angeles Lakers, because no one chooses to be a Yankee fan. Plus, I got that little bit of Celtics blood in me, and I simply cannot turn my back on Boston.

So, what am I left with? I had the Mavericks, the Kings, the Hornets, and Suns.

Quickly, my decision was made.

Charlotte Hornets.

Let’s. Get. Buzzed.

So off I went to the NBA store to buy myself a hat, maybe a shirt, who knows possibly a jersey. I’m pumped, I’m excited, I’m making notes on players, etc. I’m stoked, you guys. And then I get to the NBA store…

And I notice one of the most disrespectful things I have ever seen.

Look, I used to work at the NHL Store on 47th and 6. We had every single team represented and we prided ourselves on that. We also were worried that Gary Bettman would stroll on in and we wouldn’t have a specific team’s keychain or replica puck.

So you can understand my surprise when I realize that one of the teams on my list is so underrepresented, I asked two associates where I could get a hat of theirs, and neither one knew. I was mad.

It was at that moment, I made my decision.

This season, I’m going to be taking my talents back and putting them towards learning the game of basketball by following and proudly representing one team…

The Sacramento Kings.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to CROWN LOYAL!

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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