Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bump-Out Champion of the World

Between the ages of 13 and 16, there were essentially three things that occupied my time: 1. Wondering if I’d ever lose my virginity. 2. Soccer and 3. Playing a basketball-esque game called Bump-Out. (Not necessarily in that order)

For those of you unfamiliar with Bump-Out, here are the unofficial rules:

> Two or more kids line up at the free-throw line.

> There are two balls, the balls start with the two kids at the front of the line.

> Each player starts by shooting a free-throw followed by any other shot required to make a basket.

> If you make a basket, you immediately give your ball to the next person in line and go to the back of the line.

> If the person behind you makes their free-throw or any other shot before you’ve made a basket, you’re out.

> In some versions of the game, you are allowed to ‘bump out’ your opponent’s ball to save yourself. This is usually done by standing under the basket and tossing your ball up through the hoop just as your opponent’s ball is about to go in, therefore projecting your opponents ball conveniently into orbit, or, if your lucky, into the neighbor’s yard.

> The game is played until there is only one player remaining, that player is then determined “Bump-Out Champion of the World” and free to gloat anyway he/she sees fit until the next game resumes.

My friends, brothers and I played Bump-Out nearly every day of our lives for three straight years. We played at lunchtime during school; we played in the hoop in my backyard on weekends and evenings; we even played on a little Nerf hoop at the Halfman’s house when it was too late or too rainy to go outside.

It’s strange and a bit depressing to think about how much time we spent playing and perfecting this seemingly useless game. The main reason we played, of course, was because we had nothing better to do and it was fun, really fun.

We also played because we were good. We were so good in fact that if ‘Bump-Out’ were to have ever found it’s way into the Olympics alongside the many other dubious Olympic ‘sports’ (see: Curling and walking), I’m quite certain that our Bump-Out crew would have made up a good portion of Team USA.

However, perhaps the most secret reason we spent so much time playing was because we all hoped that our Bump-Out prowess would one day pay off. I remember more than one occasion fantasizing that our high school basketball coach would wander by my house and, upon noticing my relentless tenacity and quick release, be compelled to offer me a place on the varsity basketball team. That of course never happened and the infinite hours spent playing Bump-Out never amounted to anything more than some quality time with friends and a sure-fire way to take my mind off my unshakable virginity.

That was of course until today, when, after nearly 20 years since those run and gun days of old, I suddenly found myself in the most unlikely of situations: face to face with two-time NBA World Champion Tony Parker in a good ol’ fashion game of, you guessed it, Bump-Out.

Tony Parker (aka TP) was visiting my work today. As part of the pre-arranged festivities, the powers that be organized a shooting contest between TP and a few select employees. I had made it through the rigorous try-out process by proving that, unlike most of my European colleagues, I could at least hit the backboard from 5 feet. In total there were five of us who got the chance to take on TP. The plan was to see who could make the most shots in a row, starting close to the basket at the bottom of the key and progressively making our way up and around the key. I’m happy to report that I made it farther than any of my colleagues and equally as far as TP – to the top corner of the key (a whopping three shots made in a row). I’m also obliged to add that TP wasn’t really trying very hard and was using an odd one-handed shooting style.

Unsatisfied with a draw, the MC asked us all to do it again but TP suggested that we play something else and proceeded to organize a game of Bump-Out that included himself, his younger brother, my four colleagues, and me.

Now the key to playing and, more importantly, winning Bump-Out is making sure that, aside from making your shots, you don’t have anyone really good behind you. However today everything happened a bit too quickly for me to secure a prime spot in line, instead I found myself in the unfortunate, if not suicidal, position directly in front of TP.

The game started like I remembered, fast and furious. I made my first two free-throws, as did TP.

By our third free-throw the line was already reduced to four: TP, me, TP’s brother, and my colleague Yuri (in that order). TP’s brother missed his third free-throw and I made mine, leaving me, Yuri and a big brother with family revenge on his mind to fight it out.

I missed my fourth free-throw but had enough time to quickly make my lay-up and get the ball back to my colleague just as TP missed his free-throw. My colleague proceeded to make his free-throw and knock the NBA All-Star out of the game. Whew!

And then there were two.

As is often the case in Bump-Out, when the game gets reduced to two people it can go on and on with the two finalists racing back and forth from the basket to the free-throw line like a couple of headless chickens jacked on coke. Today’s game was no different. In front of TP and about 300 of our colleagues, Yuri and I ran around in circles trying desperately to oust each other. For much of the time, I had Yuri on the run and was sure it would only be a matter of time before I was crowned king.

But then the tables turned, a made free-throw by Yuri and a big miss on my part put me on the run with Yuri in hot pursuit.

I missed my next free-throw and so did Yuri.

Then, as we both went to make our lay-ups, the strangest thing happened - our balls got stuck in the hoop. Not only did they get stuck, they got stuck in exactly the same place in the hoop – they were literally side by side. Had Yuri’s ball gone in first or been a little below mine, I would have been out, but it didn’t go in first and wasn’t ahead of mine. Instead our balls just stayed there perfectly level, even after someone shook the base of the basket. The game was officially declared a draw, perhaps the first in the history of the sport.

Who knows what would have happened had I won? Perhaps it would have validated all those years spent playing silly games with my friends rather than learning something useful like binary code? And what if I’d lost? Would it have been a cruel reminder of what a waste my life has been on fun and games? Who really knows? Win, lose or draw, the result is generally the same - it's all just a bit of fun to pass an otherwise dull day…just like way back when.

Comment starter:
Things you spend more time doing than you probably should…


Blogger Chum said...

First of all, IS ANYBODY ELSE READING THIS? Where's Dak?

OSome, that was probably the best blog I have ever read! And I've read a few (see "things I spend too much time doing" below). All I can say is that you are fucking better than Tony Parker at bump-out. Life mission accomplished.

As for "Things I spend too much time doing":

Anything involved with a computer. This includes looking at blogs, ebay, surf reports, craigslist, surf message boards, porn, porn blogs, surf classifieds, fantasy football sites, email, music sites, and writing my own blog.

11:11 AM  
Blogger OS said...

Good point, where is Dak? His LA misadventures would undoubtedly make great fodder for a Blog. Although I reckon he’s pouring it all into his TV script. And Gee, where you be?

Chum…Many thanks for the gratuitous words of praise, as someone who I’ve always considered the supreme purveyor of all things cool, your words make me blush. With that said, as I find myself getting dangerously addicted to this Blogging thing (5 posts in 4 days), and because it was you who turned me onto it, I liken your words of encouragement to a drug dealer hanging around the school yard telling kids, “Serious man, you really are better looking and sooo much funnier when you’re stoned, I mean it dude. Here, try this, it will make your penis bigger too.”

12:01 AM  
Blogger the creole kid said...

as a one time devotee of Bump-Out, i understand just how appearingly useless the game can seem in the grand scheme of things. however, your story (by outlasting nba champion, tony parker) makes all those hours worthwhile. on behalf of all the kids-who-could-sometimes-shoot-but-had-no-other-moves, i would like to say thank you and god bless.

p.s. does this mean via the socratic method or some other way that you had sex with eva longoria?

4:13 PM  
Blogger OS said...

Creole...via the socratic, via fantasy, via cyber sex, via any method but the real thing...yes, Eva and I have been very very intimate. Unfortunately she's just not aware of it.

Think a Portland Bump-Out session is in order.

2:34 AM  

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