“Dirk Nowitzki, my ass…” Part V

He was on his prime, when I was getting ready for uni. I had a hall pass from mum and dad, in regards to watching his games. That and being allowed to play hoops at the block… What a lovely time for a teenager…
Imagine the frequency of my wanks since I didn’t have any other way to “get rid of my demons”.
Dallas Mavericks were doing amazing. All the way to the playoffs… Jason Terry, Devin Harris, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Van Horn, Jason Terry and of course, Dirk Nowitzki and his one foot fade-away jumper. I wasn’t getting stronger but I would develop my own copy-cat of his signature move.

-What do you mean, why? Don’t you know my dad?
-Yes, he is our teacher, too. But there are no sharp shooters in the fucking team. It’s only Miles and he can’t take it all. Can’t you join?
-Dad will never let me. Even when it’s the school team and the pride of the school on the line.
-We’ll get smashed, anyways.
-So, that was to make me feel better I guess?
-Yeah, kinda.

That was our baby Shaq. Big center with a big heart. He was so slow with his movement but he was such an amazing bloke. Cheers, Otis.
As I said earlier… I didn’t experience much of official basketball, that year due to family restrictions. Besides, I had to study for the exams.

April 2006… Dallas Mavericks were smashing all of their playoff opponents. I was watching the replays of the games at my auntie’s since she had NBA TV. I’d not even go home but to hers right after school. She’d prepare me a lovely supper and place a full litre bottle of Coke right on top of the tray. I’d eat and watch the full replay with her. She’d see me as a son cos she was infertile. She’d see me as a son cos I’d be the only one in the whole family to call her, visit her, enjoy her company. Even now, I feel bad about not calling one person every week and that’s her.

“I always go for the white jerseys, kid. Am I doing it right?”

What can you explain to a woman who says that wholeheartedly? Nothing, of course. “Yes, auntie. You are doing it right.”

I remember not even sleeping for the whole night to see a game live that’d start at 5:00 AM, Athens/Istanbul time. The game would end around 8:00 AM and I’d just go to that private trial test. Last turn before the exit, it was supposed to be…

Mavericks @ Spurs. 113–91, May 9, 2006.
Surprisingly -not- I’d score the highest out of all the trials I was in, at that test. Of course it’d generate a massive drama once my parents found out that I stayed up for the game…

Time would pass quicker than expected. As Dallas Mavericks’ chances were growing about the title, my dad would give me more shit.
“No way, your softie Nowitzki can see the end.”
“No way, I don’t like his style of play anyways. Even Shaq is more dominant.”
“No way, after they traded Nash, it’s impossible…”
I’d stay up for another game, of course…

June 8, 2006. Heat @ Mavericks. 80–90.
I would wake my dad up as soon as the game was over.
-Dad, wake up! Mavs shoved their cocks in the arses of the Heat bullocks!
He’d be half-asleep but he’d respond…
-Well, Heat will shove their cocks in Mavs’ mouths…
My mum would despise the convo, screaming; “What the hell?! Ethan, you got to watch your mouth! So as you, you little rascal!”

Mavs would win fuck-all… End of story for them, start of a new story for me. I would find out about my uni results (Istanbul, the city of seven hills or seven sins) and that summer with a pro player in the premiership… He’d move to our block: Murat Yolcu was his name.

He was training on his own, on our concrete court! Imagine it. A professional basketball player from an extremely reputable club is your neighbour! All me mates would surround him to ask him questions. He would answer to every single question whilst keeping on his own shooting regimen.

-Matt, you got to come downstairs mate! Murat Yolcu is here!
I would. Not to judge him but to meet. Would shake his hand and ask whether I could train with him. We’d train together. Shooting 3 pointers…
He’d ask me what I was up to, after beating the shit out of me on a 3 point contest in front of all my friends…
“Hey, kid, I see potential in you. You are smart, compared to any of those who are amazing on the court but way too slow outside of it.You are going to study in Istanbul. You found your way out of your tiny city -no offence- and you will have an amazing life. I am not going to even try and improve your skills… What we are going to work on is your character, more than your basketball skills. Now, grab the ball. One on one, you brat. Let’s see what you are made of.”
We’d play our first game… He’d win, of course.
“Not bad, kid; not bad.”
He became the reason of all the kids on the block to go downstairs and play basketball. It would mostly be me against him and he’d take me down, big time but he was such a sport… I remember him coming up with a keg of beer to my birthday party, which was held right next to the basketball court. He wouldn’t drink. He would just leave the keg with the tap and all.
I’ve seen him once more, on the basketball court before heading to Istanbul for good. We were playing a 3 on 3… He had the ball.
-Okay, Matt. Okay, kid. I’m an old fart, yeah?
-Not at all, sir. Why are we talking? You gonna score, aren’t you?
-May be… What if I get transferred to Istanbul, to your uni’s club team? Would you like to be my team mate?
-That’d be awesome.
He’d just score the three pointer.
“You get your guard down, for your dreams. You should work on that, in Istanbul. Alright?”

I would hop on the bus, leaving family, leaving friends, leaving my youth behind at an early age… As early as 16…
He’d be there with his wife and sister in law. He’d be there to wave me goodbye, telling my family it’ll be fine at the end.



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