You know those vigorous, sinewy basketball players in the beverage commercials who do the double-wiggle-waggle dunks and who obey their thirst? That’s me. Totally. I have handles. I have ups. I also have friends who will tell you a story about the time in a high school game that I scored a layup for the other team. But there was a good reason for that.
Point is, I’m a monster on the court. So when I heard that the best pickup game in town is played at a gym in Plano called Life Time Fitness, I knew what had to be done. Word on the street was that Deion and Michael regularly play in this lunchtime game—Deion being, of course, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, maybe one of the most gifted athletes ever to walk the planet; and Michael being Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin, maybe the most stylish guy ever to appear before a grand jury at the Frank Crowley Courts Building. Me, I play ball down south, at the Premier Club. I figured I owed those Life Time boys a visit. In the words of the inimitable Warren G., it was time to regulate. So the other day, I made a trip up north to show them how we do it in the 214.
Life Time, I discovered, is no mere gym. It is frighteningly massive, like the Death Star of exercise, only boxier. I paid $150 for a one-month membership, thinking I’d need multiple visits to catch either Deion or Michael in a game.
Happy day, though. I laced up my biscuits in the plush locker room, and, when I found the basketball courts, there was Himself. Deion was not wearing a lavender zoot suit. Nonetheless, I recognized him immediately. There was a three-game wait, so I loitered on the sideline and watched. Just like when he played for the Cowboys, Deion did not tackle anyone. But he did run fast. He had on some fancy black Nikes that appeared to be prototypes of sneakers not yet available to the general public. Also: blue do-rag, sleeveless t-shirt, and heavy gold cross on thick gold chain.
Team Prime Time won three games in a row. Then it was my turn. I wound up with two girls on my team, which would have bidden ill for yours truly except that one of the girls was 6-foot-2, and the other, La’Neishea Caufield (aka Nei Nei), played pro ball for the Dallas Fury (of the National Women’s Basketball League). Here are the SportsCenter highlights:
Deion shakes his man, drives baseline. I rotate over to help. There is nothing between Deion and the rim but me. I prove not to be much of an impediment. Deion lays it in. In my head, Dan Patrick says, “You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.”
With the game tied at 5, on a fast break, I wind up defending against Deion. He stops at the arc. I assume the superior athletic position and feint as if to the steal the ball. He doesn’t flinch. I say, “C’mon. You got nothin’.” Deion passes the ball.
Then magic. On the left wing, I pump fake, drive right, use a pick to shed my man, and leap for the rim. Deion is there, but he doesn’t move. Carrying around that heavy gold cross has sapped his energy. And I sink a pretty finger roll from 3 feet. Kenny Mayne says, “We’re gonna show it again, because we have editing equipment.”
The rest of the game was all Nei Nei. She could shoot the three. Which she did, repeatedly, earning several high-fives from yours truly. And we won.
Afterward, Deion took a seat on a bench to catch his breath. I went up to him, shook his hand, and told him, “You learned your lesson, didn’t you?” Deion studied me. Then he flashed that Prime Time smile, as if to say, “I’m the only guy who’s ever played in both a World Series and a Super Bowl.”
I felt pretty good about my field trip up to the
972—until I hit the showers and the afterglow from the game had faded.
I realized then that returning to Life Time would be a bad idea,
because past results do not guarantee future performance. Which meant
I’d paid $150 to play one game with Deion, in which I’d sunk a single
Sucka got played.