Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Jul 6, 2022
99° F Dallas, TX

My Complicated Feelings About the Washington Wizards’ Kelly Oubre Jr.

Dude really knows how to ruin a lunchtime pickup game at the Y.
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kelly_oubreAt lunch, when I can, I like to walk over to the downtown T. Boone Pickens YMCA and play pickup basketball. Today something quite extraordinary happened there. It involves a player for the Washington Wizards, who are in town tonight to play the Mavericks. I’d like to tell you the story.

There is a complex set of rituals and rules that govern play at the downtown Y. Turns are determined by a combination of: who has been waiting the longest, three-point shooting prowess, the number of consecutive games won by the victorious team in the game just concluded, bluster, and, not unlike the card game Exploding Kittens, which I played a fair amount of over the holiday break, who most recently had a bowel movement. So imagine my delight today when I arrived shortly after noon and found myself almost immediately in a game, despite both courts being occupied and about eight people waiting to run. 2017 was looking up!

Ten of us organized ourselves at one end of the court, matching up defense with offense according to height and skill. We were set to play. Except some tall dude at the other end of the court was shooting free throws, with a shorter dude catching the ball and feeding it to him.

“Hey, buddy!” someone from our end shouted. “You got to get off the court! Game’s starting!”

Tall dude didn’t turn around, just kept catching the ball and shooting it. More yelling ensued. Even the guys on the next court over started yelling at him. Tall dude basically had 20 guys in a gym yelling at him to get the hell off the court. I heard: “We don’t care if you’re in the NBA! You got to wait your turn like everyone else!” I asked one of the other players who tall dude was and he informed me: Kelly Oubre. Played for Kansas. In town with the Wizards.

I have since done about 15 seconds of research on this Kelly Oubre. Apparently he is the Wizards’ future at small forward. Good for him. But what he did today was a really sorry move. Only a jerk does what Kelly Oubre did, taking over half a gym and ruining the lunchtime play of 15 other guys just so he could have a shoot-around.

Someone went to get management to resolve the situation. We all waited on our end of the court, cursing Kelly Oubre. Management came and went. Kelly Oubre kept shooting.

We determined that Kelly Oubre would get the hell out of the way if we just started our game. And that we did. I was on defense and grabbed the first rebound, took the ball up the court, running the wing, passed it to my left as we crossed mid court. Now we had 10 guys running toward Kelly Oubre and his trainer, and what does Kelly Oubre do? He keeps shooting. Doesn’t budge.

As you might imagine, the game ground to a halt. Ten guys milling about, cursing. Nothing violent, mind you. Just pissed off dudes who’ve been playing pickup ball at this gym for years and want to get in their exercise. Pissed off dues-paying dudes.

At that point, I walked up to Kelly Oubre and said, “Welcome to Dallas. Now get off the court.”

Kelly Oubre was actually quite polite. I kinda felt bad for him. He didn’t say anything, just shrugged. Really, it was his trainer (maybe an assistant coach?) who seemed the most insistent. He said management had told them they could occupy that basket. So I myself went to get management.

By the time I returned, a different manager in tow this time, Kelly Oubre had moved to the other court, forcing everyone off so he could continue shooting. Apparently a detente had been reached. Ten guys stopped playing full-court basketball so that Kelly Oubre could shoot.

By the time my game had finished (my team won despite a horrible performance from your correspondent, including a point-blank miss of a layup (so embarrassing)), Kelly Oubre was sitting on the sideline, looking at his phone. He left the gym a little after 1 — meaning if he’d just waited a little bit for the lunchtime games to peter out, as he was repeatedly told, he could have avoided the whole brouhaha. I will add here that Kelly Oubre and his short trainer guy stopped at the front desk on their way out to apologize to the staff, saying they were sorry they had to deal with the situation.

So then. What am I left to think about Kelly Oubre? I don’t care what the Y staff told him. I don’t care if his Wizards lackey insisted that he keep shooting. A decent dude in that situation sits his ass down. He waits for a court to open up. He does not put himself ahead of 10 other humans. Given all that, I hope Kelly Oubre plays like crap tonight and gets rim-stuffed on a dunk.

Now, having said that, and given what Zac wrote earlier in this space about rooting against the Mavs so that they get a better draft pick, I have changed my mind.

Kelly Oubre, have a great game tonight! Hope all that work you put in today helps improve your 40-percent shooting and gets you more than your average 5.6 points per game!!