Marsu - El Mirage, Arizona
Entered on May 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in pick-up basketball. Pick-up hoops is the ultimate meritocracy. Your name, age, job, social standing, skin color, even gender, none of that matters. Size can matter, but not as much as you would think. What matters is the game.

My team, the Chicago Bulls, was eliminated in the quarter final round of the eastern round one this year [2008] by the cleveland cavaliers. I have to wait until next season to wear my chicago red&black sweater and cross my fingers, legs and arms into a twisted pretzel to bring the players luck at the foul line.

I’ve loved basketball all of my life, in large part due to Michael Jordan, and this was no different as I was about to enter my freshman year in high school. I begin at ninth grade because this was the time that I really began to play basketball more than I played any other sport, after ending my three or four year stint with baseball. As soon as school began, I was looking forward to the end of September when conditioning for basketball would commence. I waited patiently making sure that my grades were up to par and then the time finally came.

All season long I live with the ups and downs of the team. One night I’m thrusting both fists into the air and screaming “Yes!” at a buzzer-beating shot banging in. Another afternoon I’m staring in shocked silence at a shot ricocheting off the backboard. I’ve learned that win or lose, the next day I still have to go to work and cook dinner.

I believe in learning more about a person in an afternoon of pick-up games than you can learn in a year of sitting next to him in church. I believe in the bonding power of on-court banter, jive, jawing, needling, joking, ridiculing — nothing personal — all part of the game. Testing moods, testing mettle, applying pressure, playing under pressure, being a part of a social dynamic This I Believe.