I could tell as soon as I arrived that they were afraid. There I was, a Jew from Brooklyn. In Japan, I may as well of been Michael Jordan. Everyone stared at me with eager anticipation as I warmed up. A lot of people came up to ask me where I was from. I told them I was from New York City. Yes, the world Mecca of basketball New York fucking City bitch, what? Oh yeah, I was the fucking man. I finished my stretches, laced up my shoes, took a basketball, and walked out on the court. I hadn’t been on a court for a long time. It felt good. I walked towards the basket. I stop, set my feet, adjust my grip, and take my first shot. A collective gasp fills the room. An air ball. The basket is higher than I remember. I shoot again. I shoot too hard and it bounces off the top of the backboard and back into my hands. I then sloppily go in for a layup. I let go of the ball and it flows through the air, right over the basket. A guy realizes the truth and comes over to give me some pointers. Yes, I suck at basketball.
This is a sad story. Probably not for you, the reader, but for me, as a person. In Japan, as a foreign American guy, there are many preconceptions about you. For example, I’m supposed to speak none of the native tongue, only eat hamburgers, be fat, not be able to use chopsticks, love coffee to death, and mostly just be loud and obnoxious. These are things that a lot of Japanese not only think about of Americans, but most white non-Japanese in general. I have learned to accept these things, and politely (and sometimes not so politely) inform the person gawking at my use of chopsticks, that I have used them since I was twelve, and I learned how to in Brooklyn, NY from countless nights of Chinese takeout. But recently, there has been one thing thought of me that really hit me in the heart, because I wish it to be true. It also blew out in the open one of my misperceptions of Japanese people. It’s basketball. They think all Americans (even the white ones) are really good at basketball. And I thought (key word THOUGHT), that Japanese people were pretty lame at it (since they are all short or something).
Yeah, I was wrong. Most everyone I have played with so far is amazing. I am totally jealous. And most of them are just as tall, or taller than me. Most of the time. I end up massively disappointing every single person I play with. But there’s something deep inside the people I play with, even after seeing how terrible I am, that think I should have some sort of genetic disposition for playing. So despite them knowing fully well that I am atrocious, they play extra hard against me. The most talented, and scariest players defend me, and my fat ass has to run all over to defend them. They’ll be like, “MAXIM, YOU’RE MINE!” right before we start. All I can do is sigh and get my ass kicked.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake this notion that I should be good at basketball. It’s a sad reality. All I can do is show them quick that I suck, sit down, and take the beating that my white ass deserves.