Chinese people love their basketball. Playing, watching, talking about it, assuming that the black guy that’s over here for four weeks is both an engineer and in the NBA (because he’s black, duh). They love it the way the same way that noted friend of The Bookshelf™ (Josh) Calloway loves ginger ale.
So, naturally, the Chinese all-stars (pulled from the ranks of security guards, engineers, factory workers, etc, etc.) from the company want to play the Americans, who they assume are seasoned basketball veterans, being that they’re Americans. So, here are the requirements for a successful intercontinental basketball dominance challenge:
1. It has to be Wednesday. Selective brown-outs make it so the court is only illuminated on Wednesdays. Let’s say you have some sort of conflict that can only be resolved on the basketball court… and it’s Thursday. You have to wait one whole week to get it taken care of.
2. You need a court with the gigantic, trapezoidal, official international basketball lane dimensions. Well, this is the only type you’ll find in China, you’re all set. And be careful, if the referee (see below) feels like calling offensive 3 second violations, and you’re in for some embarrassment until you get used to it.
3. You need fans. The court is between two dorms which probably house 200 people combined. These fans need to bring a drum to bang on whenever the Chinese team scores.
4. You need groupies. When you’ve just missed two layups, airballed a shot from the arc, and you’re out of breath only three minutes into the game, you need someone to tell you that you’re “number 1 basketball star.”
5. You need a referee. No, scratch that. You need someone who owns a whistle. Two older (in their 40’s) whistle-owning guys who live in the dorms provided law and order (and a bafflingly inadequate grasp of the concepts of the backcourt violation and team foul) for our game.
6. You need to have at least 4 of 5 players who are taller than 6’2″. Otherwise, the speed of the Chinese will overwhelm the rebound and layup differentials.
7. You need to figure out which Chinese player is the best and switch to a box and one zone to cause him to take shots with an exceedingly low chance of being successful. The four people in #6 take care of the rebounds resulting from these shots.
8. You need a time keeper who keeps time by his watch and yells when the 12 minute quarters are over. Also, he should speak no English; this way, the US team is unable to know how much time is remaining. More importantly, he should arbitrarily add time to the fourth quarter whenever the Chinese team slightly closes the point differential. This way, what should be 48 minutes of basketball ends up being closer to 60 minutes.
9. You need a security guard to operate the scoreboard. Because he wouldn’t let anyone else near it.
10. Most importantly, the US team needs an in-shape 40ish guy who plays basketball three times a week.
Game 3 of the LaFrance China vs. LaFrance US Basketball Series receives four-and-a-half stars due largely to the fact that we won the game and that games against the Chinese team don’t end up with someone from one team wanting to fight someone on the other team, like most (if not all) other competitive-in-some-way basketball games in which I’ve participated. And how often does someone get to represent their country successfully without doing something stupid? Minus 1/2 star for the ungodly amount of running involved in basketball.