I Am, Officially, The Oldhead At The Hoop Court. Please Hold Me.


The realization should have come in 2013.

I was a regular on the court at LA Fitness in Bakery Square; showing up three times a week to play (and, usually, beat) guys who were half my age. And half my age plus 10 years. I was the shit.


They'd call me Joe Johnson. Or Paul Pierce. Or literally any other NBA player who manages to be effective despite moving like their legs are stuck in a puddle of grits. And, on the days my legs were feeling good and I managed to eat a grape and shit that afternoon, I'd "show dunk" between games.

"Show dunking" = not actually completing the dunk, but getting up high enough to show everyone you could dunk if you really tried, while convincingly acting like you're not jumping as high as you possibly can…even though you're jumping as high as you possibly can. (Basically, broadcasting "Shit, this is easy" while thinking "Fuck, this is hard.")

I'm on the Mt. Everest of show dunking. My show dunking game is not a game.

And then, one day, I felt a tweak in my knee. The same knee I had surgery on in college. It wasn't particularly painful. But it didn't feel right. Especially since it happened with no contact. I tried playing on it for a week — limping around like I had shin gout — but it just wasn't working. So I stopped playing competitive basketball. For a year. Which probably should have been a sign that I'd morphed into the oldhead at the basketball court. Because only oldheads take an entire fucking year off from playing because of a bitch-ass knee tweak.

But then Obamacare happened, and I got me a fancy new knee brace with velcro and air pockets and shit in February of 2014. And I started playing regularly again.

So, if you're keeping score at home, I'm…

1. the guy who took an entire year off from playing


2. the guy who doesn't step on the court without a draconian contraption he rocks, despite a doctor telling him "Well, there's really no structural damage to your knee. I think it's just an old ass knee."


But the oldhead realization still didn't quite dawn on me. Until last week.

I was on a cruise with The Wife Person and her family. There was a basketball court on this cruise. It was a shitty court — 50 feet long, surrounded by malaria nets, and located at the top of the ship, which means there was a 95% chance there'd be a random gust of 60 mph wind every time you took a shot — but it was a court. So I played a few times. And I apparently acquitted myself pretty well. I even had to try very, very, very hard not to smile when I overheard someone say "that dude must've played in college or Europe or something."


(Seriously, if you want to make a random 30-something year old man smile, observe him playing a sport — literally any sport; it could be badminton — and ask "Yo…did you play in college somewhere?")

Shitty but still functional cruise court
Shitty but still functional cruise court

And it happened. It was the last day of the cruise. After lunch, I decided to go up to the court and play a couple games. So I get there. But I had to leave because I forgot my brace in the cabin. (Yes, I brought a knee brace to a motherfucking Caribbean cruise.) And then I get back to the court, and play a few games.

And then two realizations hit me.

1. There was no one on the court who was even within 15 years of my age.

This epiphany occurred when I made a reference to "Breathe Easy" — a song from Jay-Z's The Blueprint — during a game. (The reference? I literally said "breathe easy" to a kid who missed a layup. My shit talking game has never been the best part of my game.)


And then I realized that kid wasn't even alive when that album dropped. And then I stopped talking.

2. It was 95 degrees. On a cruise ship off the coast of Florida. And I was playing basketball in sweatpants.


And that did it.

I am, officially, the oldhead at the hoop court. Hold me. Please, someone come and hold me.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Shanita Hubbard

I guess it's better to be the old head on the court vs the old man in the club…..cause that ish is just pathetic