Unless you are Michael Jordan, you won’t always win. I grew up playing basketball almost every day of my life, and I’ve taken plenty of team Ls and plenty of personal Ls.
Here are 10 of the worst personal Ls I can remember taking.
No. 1 has to be Phil Dixon, the star point guard at my college. As if the 45 and 44 points he gave me in the intrasquad scrimmages wasn’t bad enough, Phil and I played one-on-one five minutes into my recruiting visit during my senior year of high school.
He beat me like 15-2 every game, and a crowd of people gathered around to watch. It was right in the middle of the Apple Blossom Festival, and people were watching me get beat like a drum as if it were part of the festivities.
It felt like I was playing against Tom Shepherd in Above The Rim.
At No. 2, Danny Moats isn’t just my barber for 28 years, but he was once a Division II point guard. He could hoop. I learned this the hard way when our teams met in the John D. Lancaster 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
He gave me the business so bad that I had to get subbed out. On a bright note, my team Black Moon (me, Frankie Johnson, Doc Walker & Bruiser Walker) still won the championship.
At. No. 3, it’s Cory Alexander. I’ve had the chance to play against four NBA players growing up; Cory, George Lynch, Randolph Childress and Mark Blount. I wrote a blog for the YMCA about growing up playing at the Y, and I include my most embarrassing moment guarding Cory in that blog.
At No. 4, in that same article, I wrote about Sidney “Popsicle” Diggs. I still remember him saying, “You think you getting too good,” and then challenging me to play one-on-one. I lost 15-2. He played left-handed. You hate to see it.
At No. 5, it’s Derrick D-Nice Fields. Actually, Keith Scott is the most creative basketball player I’ve ever played against, but once I was playing one-on-one with D-Nice over at Staunton High School. He did this fake where the ball disappeared, and so did my pride. It was horrible.
At No. 6, it’s my homey Cameron Jones’ friend Ali.
Y’all ever hooped against a Maryland dude?
They used to do this weird thing with their crossovers, where they touch the ground with their opposite hand. Well, I hadn’t seen that – or at least been a victim of it – until my teammate Cameron Jones bought his boy from back home to come play pick up. I’ll never forget it.
I picked Ali up at halfcourt going west to east, and when I went to pressure him, he brought out the secret weapon – the D.C. crossover. I got crossed to heaven, and everyone laughed about it the rest of the night.
AT No. 7, it’s a random point guard from Salisbury State. My college coach, Dave Dutton, was pointing out a missed defensive rotation in a film session.
Unfortunately, he kept rewinding the tape and pointing the laser just at the point where it happened to show the Salisbury State point guard crossing me up. Everyone kept laughing, and the whole point of the film session was missed.
At No. 8, it’s The 85-game winning streak squad. I love the program where I hooped in high school, and it has a proud basketball tradition. While I was teaching at the school, the guys went on an 85-game winning streak.
Well, we had this tradition that every summer we would help our hall-of-fame coach Paul Hatcher with his basketball day camp, and then we’d run pick-up games of “old camp counselors versus new camp counselors.”
The old counselors pretty much won every year, because we knew too much basketball. In this particular year, we took all Ls to the youngsters.
I just remember thinking that they play with the speed reminiscent of the college game. I couldn’t understand it. Some of them were barely old enough to drive. It was embarrassing.
At No. 9, it’s Ed Gwynn. I hate this story, too, but it is funny to tell.
It was college senior day (I think). And I had shot the ball really well, and I had five 3s. Someone on our team scored (I think it was Billy Blake) to put us up with 11 seconds left in the game.
Our opponent called time out.
You can ask every single one of my teammates. What I’m about to tell you is 100 percent the absolute truth. I go in the huddle, and I tell our team and our coaching staff the exact play they are about to run.
I said they were going to post me up with their point guard Ed Gwynn, who not only was good but was much bulkier than me. I told coach, “Boo (our shooting guard) and I should switch for the last play of the game. Coach said “nah, stay on our assigments.” The opposing team ran the play just like I said it.
Gwynn took the last shot over me.
And that was the ball game.
At No. 10, it’s Cardi Bell. An unfortunate basketball fact is that your skills leave before your pride does. I still play in an adult basketball league. I play with the greatest group of friends, and we were playing the defending champs from the previous season in game one to open the following season.
It’s not just that Cardi had more points than me. I could live with that. But he had more points than our whole team. And here’s the thing. He did it so quietly and so humbly.
On the last of his 300 made 3s, I rotated over on to him, but I got there late. I didn’t even turn around. I just asked him: “That went in, too, didn’t it?” And he said “yes” almost apologetically.
Bonus: Once I embarrassed myself by hopping in the lay-up line in practice wearing my jeans. I was late to practice – because of a class – and the locker room was locked. Well, when I went in for a layup, my jeans ripped. My whole team was looking at me like “C Lass, you are so dumb.”
But that wasn’t as bad as …
The time on a college basketball road trip the bus driver punched me in the chest and said, “I’ve been wanting to do that all weekend.”
And that wasn’t as bad as …
We were playing Frostburg State. Late in the game, I hit a 3-pointer to bring us within 3. Our all-American Phil knows he’s going to be get doubled teamed, so he throws it to me for a potential game-tying shot. But when I catch the ball, my foot is out-of-bounds.
It was a quiet ride home, but not a quiet day in the cafeteria a few days later. One of my teammates wrote a freestyle about that play to the tune of Nas & Lauryn Hill’s If I Ruled the World, but changed the lyrics to If I Ruined the World.
Honorable Mention: My cousin Nakia Williams came to my house and beat me by more than 90 points in Double Dribble on the Nintendo.
What about y’all? What’s the worst personal L you’ve ever taken on a basketball court?