Mosswood Court, Oakland, United States, Credit: Layla Nova Forrest-White

Basketball Now!

By Layla Nova Forrest-White

It's June 3, 1992. The Chicago Bulls are playing the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan against Clyde “The Glide” Drexler. The Bulls win this game handily, 122 points (39 of which are Jordan's) to the Blazers' 89—indeed, as many Americans, particularly 80s babies, can tell you, 1992 was year 2 in the Bulls' first Finals three-peat, the second of which came after Jordan's first retirement, thrice more clenching the 1996-8 Championships. Elsewhere on television that night, however, there was another striking performance, equivalent if not in virtuosity to Jordan's, then certainly in its staying power in our cultural memory. The summer of 1992 saw the presidential campaign in full swing, with the incumbent George H.W. Bush clearly leading the field, until, some analysts have argued, the night of June 3, when then-Senator from Arkansas Bill Clinton put on a pair of Blues Brothers Ray Ban Wayfarers, a “party” tie, and played a jazzy “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show. Clinton's resultant “sax appeal” was enormous, instant, sensational—some have it that it carried him all the way to the White House.

Perhaps in an effort to diminish the undeniable gag nature of this stunt, Clinton, over the course of his next two terms as president and continuing into the present, has become something of a spokesperson (along with Wynton Marsalis, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and others) on the inherent link between jazz and democracy. Such parallels are by no means unique to Clinton et al.; they have long been made not just between jazz and democracy, but also with basketball, another uniquely American, and black, form of cultural expression and play. Fast-forwarding some 16 years to another presidential campaign, who can forget then-Senator Obama's “sax solo” of efficient, non-flashy, team-oriented basketball? In this essay, I will first look at the ways in which these long-racialized practices have been used as metaphors for or models of American democratic practices. My eventual aim, however, is to drop the metaphorical or modeling aspects of these comparisons, and—focusing on park basketball at Mosswood Park in Oakland, California—to show the ways in which the sport is both enabled by democratic conditions, and is also democracy incarnate, democracy in its fleshy, dirty, overcrowded, bodies-touching-each-other reality.

Birth of the Rule

Much has been written on the twin aspects of jazz and democracy; just as much has been written on the twin aspects of jazz and basketball. Though the transitive nature of the argument seems clear to me, less has been written on the democratic aspects of basketball. I will start with the more simplistic ways in which the three practices overlap, while making it clear that in this simplification, each individual form is being evaluated in its best possible manifestation, a manifestation that almost never happens. Considering each form at its very root as offering a structure for how to allow for communal human expression under a set of rules, basketball, jazz, and democracy are linked by the fundamental, albeit vague, principals of participation and improvisation. Indeed, these concepts are vague enough to produce a form of relative solipsism, what a New York Times reporter evaluating a symposium on jazz called the “anecdotal” quality of the evidence, in which “democracy and jazz are both concepts that fit the exact experience of the user.”[1] The specificities of such exact experience again slip towards the general, with Marsalis, for instance, arguing for a commonality of “integrity,” and as Steve Pinkerton argues concerning Ralph Ellison,

American democracy insists that we strive both artistically and politically to resolve, to seek an end that is both aesthetic and pragmatic, transcendent and embodied. Where jazz is concerned, that end takes the form of the tonic, a musical resolution [...]. Politically, the desired resolution is the sacred telos of Ellison's unique jazz-theology; the ideal of pluralistic democracy, what Hickman [a character in Three Days Before the Shooting. . .] calls “the mystery of the one in the many and the many in the one'' (Three Days).[2]

This is, of course, the United States' seal's e pluribus unum, working for both democracy and jazz. And as for basketball and jazz, many have highlighted the two's shared improvisatory nature:

The process of musical improvising shares analogies to sport, as jazz historian James Collier observes—both “the improvising jazz musician and the athlete must train intensely to build up sets of conditioned reflexes that enable them to respond without thinking of events that are unfolding around them in fractions of seconds.”[3]

As jazz, political, and sport critics have argued, their respective forms “stop working” when the set of rules either becomes too rigid, or the ostensible players do not participate. But the meanings and consequences of this “not working” are vastly different, a difference that underscores the ways in which these forms are absolutely not alike; as we have seen lately, a government shut-down is not categorically comparable to, say, aesthetic failure or a bad game. Indeed, as Adorno famously argues, jazz is in fact “psuedo-democratic,” in that its “attitude of immediacy, which can be defined in terms of a rigid system of tricks, is deceptive when it comes down to class difference.” He goes so far as to say that

[t]he more deeply jazz penetrates society, the more reactionary elements it takes on, the more completely it is beholden to banality, and the less it will be able to tolerate freedom and the eruption of phantasy, until it finally glorifies repression itself as the incidental music to accompany the current collective. The more democratic jazz is, the worse it becomes.[4]

Leaving aside Adorno's somewhat mystifying hatred of jazz, I want to better define his uncharacteristically muddled qualification of “worse” for jazz that is more democratic. For Adorno, both democracy and “bad jazz” are banal, repressive, mundane (if this can be taken as the opposite of unable to tolerate “the eruption of phantasy”), and some kind of incidental accompaniment.

Though some might say that this is, in fact, “bad democracy,” as well as bad jazz, I am more inclined to agree with Adorno that democratic rule is more prone to those characteristics than not. But, as Dave Hickey says in relation to basketball and democracy, there is, or should be, a perfect Jeffersonian point, in which the rule liberates rather than governs. Speaking of a famous dunk of Dr. J's, Hickey says:

And this is never to know the lightness of joy—or even the possibility of it—because such joys as are attendant upon Julius Erving's play require civilizing rules that attenuate violence and defer death. They require rules that translate the pain of violent conflict into the pleasures of disputation— into the excitement of politics, the delights of rhetorical art, and competitive sport. Moreover, the maintenance of such joys requires that we recognize, as Thomas Jefferson did, that the liberating rule that civilized us yesterday will, almost inevitably, seek to govern us tomorrow, by suppressing both the pleasure and the disputation. In so doing, it becomes a form of violence itself.[5]

How, then, in life and in basketball, do we keep the rule as liberation? The latter is certainly easier to assess; as Hickey and others have written, American basketball is the only major sport that constantly adapts itself so as to make the sport as pleasurable as possible, both for the spectator and player, constantly crafting itself into “civilized complexity incarnate.”[6] Unlike governmental democracy, both jazz and basketball are highly adaptive and localized, defined experientially as large-scale democracy unfortunately rarely is. This experiential perspective, as “sports philosopher” Tim Elcombe argues, lends itself to basketball's “continuous evolution,” in which “[o]fficials constantly experiment with new temporal and spatial aspects of the game, including scoring areas (such as the three-point line) and time features (for example, shot clocks).”[7]

In addition to both forms' constantly evolving rule set, physical and mental training within these conventions actually can create the conditions for these same rules' transcendence—how, as S.W. Pope says, “the virtuoso jazz musician, like the basketball player, can literally perform the impossible (or the previously unthinkable) but cannot be relied upon to do so.”[8] This is a curious form of the Jeffersonian point, in that the transcending of the rule cannot be planned for, or even, perhaps, accounted for after the fact by the participants. It is diligence, training, repetition, and practice that enable its other; i.e. muscle memories are the necessary conditions for the body to do something that has never been done before. This type of transcendence seems equally attainable within basketball and jazz, but less so in the more intellectualized and less physicalized realm of democratic action. And yet, much of living democratically in the “bad” sense of Adorno's is precisely this awful banality of diligence, training, repetition, practice. How then does all of this work when it comes together, especially in the larger world of the non-professional? What, if any, are the possibilities for transcendence in city basketball, played in parks, in which there are no officials experimenting with rules, and no guarantee of similar or even comparable skill sets, but instead a multitude of individuals with oftentimes wildly different ideas of not only what these rules might be, but what it means to play in, with, and in complete disregard for, the rules?

Park Rules

By very definition, park, playground or street ball is an urban phenomenon. Though there are surely public parks in suburban and rural areas, the crowded and crowding nature of the park game is possible only in cities. The game of basketball ostensibly remains the same, but in these different venues, different aspects become both more prized and prevalent. As pickup player Isaac Eger hypothesizes, and I agree,

[New York City's] busy, congested courts have influenced the style of play that takes place on them. For instance, I haven't run across many pure shooters, but I have encountered a lot of athletes with wicked ball-handling skills. My theory is that because the courts here are so packed with players, there is not enough time or space to practice jump shots. [9]

The public nature of the space—particularly in private and commercial urban areas—also influences the game, though in less perceptible ways.

As a girl—my given noun at Mosswood—of little natural athletic talent and few clear ethnic markers, but plenty of tattoos and good will, many of my “less-perceptible” nuances of park basketball are in no way representative of the general nature of the city game. Though it has become less so over the three-plus years I have been playing at Mosswood, I am something of a liability on most teams. I turn over the ball, am distracted by the most amiable of shit talking, and could cry thinking of all the beautiful dimes I've smoked. One of my greatest fears is that video will be taken of me in which my vertical leap is proven to be around two inches. I often find myself guarding children in their early teens, or exceedingly diminutive men. I am, in short, living proof of the democratic nature of the park, in which the merit of pure athleticism trumps all, but a persistence of presence, a certain willingness to show up and stay put, also makes possible a variety of strangely hospitable interactions, many of them minimally to do with the sport itself. I do not mean the social life of the courts—though there is surely that too—but rather the inevitable difficulties in arranging a horde of individuals of different capabilities and expectations into the collaborative efforts of playing a momentary game. In many ways, this is the “downside” of idealized democracy; freedom of speech often means hearing some really dumb stuff. So too at the park; anyone’s right to step onto the court can mean for some really bad basketball.

Though it may seem a simplistic point, the social publicness of the park would be impossible without its spatial publicness. American public space is unique in the western world in that many of this country’s urban spaces were built with it in mind, a fact that is testament to this country’s newness as much as anything else. As Jere French argues, “[i]f churches formed the common basis of neighborhood organization in 17th and 18th Century London, then perhaps neighborhood parks can be seen as providing that basis of commonality for the more leisurely oriented cities of 20th Century America.”[10] Indeed, many European parks come from land ceded from royal tracts to public use.[11] In other words, one organizing principle of the American city—rather than the European principles of religion or aristocracy—is the centrality of open, public spaces; spaces meant for the majority within definite parameters. The tightness of these parameters has become increasingly evident in recent protest movements, perhaps most thematically with Occupy and the refusal to cede space. Indeed, the hoop courts remain the most constant, relatively unpoliced public gathering of large numbers of young black men that I have seen, an absence granted by the activity far more than the space; as soon as kids stop playing basketball, police presence increases.

Located between West and North Oakland and occupying some 11 acres, Mosswood has a diversity of spaces, with the hoop courts, located in the northwestern corner, taking up just a small fraction thereof. The life of the park is evolving and dynamic, enlivened, as Jane Jacobs says, throughout the day by a “wide functional mixture of users.”[12] As she argues,

You can neither lie to a neighborhood park, nor reason with it. ‘Artists' conceptions’ and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighborhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use. Superficial architectural variety may look like diversity, but only a genuine content of economic and social diversity, resulting in people with different schedules, has meaning to the park and the power to confer the boon of life upon it.[13]

Curiously enough, however, Mosswood courts' boon of life stems not necessarily from the surrounding neighborhood, but from its famous reputation in Bay Area park basketball---much NBA talent from the Bay is reported to have played at Mosswood, from Jason Kidd, All-Star point guard and third all-time triple-doubler turned somewhat-beleaguered coach, to the 11-ringed Celtic (GOAT?) Bill Russell. Such a storied past has kept this section of the park representative of a demographic that is rapidly disappearing from the city itself: young and black. As reported by the Census from 2000-10, which includes the seismic demographic shifts in the Bay Area caused in part by 2007/8's burst housing-bubble, the black population decreased in Oakland by 22%, and families with minors by some 10%.[14] Though I cannot speak for other parks (but I imagine similar dynamics play out across the country in public spaces), such a constant concentration of what is now a minority in the city is unique to the courts—there is a largely white “old timey” baseball league, a fairly diverse kickball squad, and so on. In other words, the park itself is gentrifying in ways reflective of the neighborhood around it (consider the near-by development of 40th Street into a bike-friendly, parklet-ed commercial strip, as well as ZipRealty’s report that median home prices in Oakland more generally increased by some 76% between 2012 and 2013).[15] But for much of the day the hoop court remains the space of Oakland natives from far and wide. I recently drove Big Mike home for his basketball shoes, and we pulled over on the way to talk to his friend Jalen who was walking down the street: “Skyline is there, East Oakland is there, Laney is there, everyone’s at the park, get your shit,” he said, with far more expletives. And though Oakland is one of only two California municipalities whose populations shrank in the last decade—Oakland's troubled municipal history is an entirely other topic—you would never know it by the constant activity and flux of people at the hoop courts.

There is Joe Buckets with bad knees; Pete with a constantly ringing cell phone; Kukoč—named for his NBA doppelgänger—who has taped professional rules to the side of a wall and constantly refers arguing players over to them; Marco, a self-professed cousin of Damian Lillard with enough physical aptitude to make the claim seem likely; Otis whose glasses break during most games; Charles with slight wasting palsy from Lousiana who professes to put bad juju on the ball when he’s losing; Darius who could and should host Oakland's own Haters' Ball; Darius' best friend Brandon who mostly cupcakes on the benches; Rick who really only ever shoots dice; Tobias who can dunk; Marley, called Navajo, who can also dunk; little John who was once picked up by big John in a fight; Mac who once asked me to burn “sensitive material” onto DVDs while he waited outside; a passing guy known as “beat Katt Williams” who insists on playing in heavy rings and bracelets; Kwame who got into a terrible motorcycle accident but can still grab rim easily; Deonte who blew out his knee and lost his scholarship playing college ball but still has the prettiest jumper; Henry the red-shirted Harlem Globetrotter; Sneaky Mike who both is and is not that sneaky; Emeril, better known as Nu Nu who learned his beautiful handles in juvenile hall; Big Mike who is my park little brother; Jeremy who has enough body for a man five-foot-five spread over six feet three; Michelle “Lil Mama” of barely five feet who learned her beautiful handles as a child in Texas; Melly Mel who gets to the basket better than anyone else; Mel who shoots deep-by-NBA-range three-pointers; Dot who wears shirts emblazoned with his name and visage; Gabe, a high school freshman at whom I once shamefully yelled when he was in the seventh grade; a new guy named Crutch who is giving Deonte a run at prettiest jumper; Fat Boy who moves much more quickly and gracefully than his name would suggest; and Mo, for whom the bank is always open, assisting him in his impossible 90% average from the field.

I could go on and on. This does not include the children, the homeless people, the drifters, the girlfriends, tons of other hoopers. This is also Mosswood as it exists to me at this moment in time, and I have spoken to older players who recognize no one on the court, nor the courts themselves with fiberglass backboards and Kaiser-logo'd floors. The kids who aren't currently allowed in the grown games will one day run the courts, and the current young bloods will find themselves relegated to the status of O.G., or, if they're telling it, Legend. Flows of life and use onto the courts shift throughout the day. There is the fairly constant dice game, as well as dominoes on the benches beneath huge old trees, both of which have been broken up and cited by police lately. There are daytime hoopers who avoid the congestion of the early evenings, the lunchtime games, after school camps, the occasional tournament. This is all to say that there are, at any given time, a complex set of abilities, inabilities, desires, frustrations, and motivations at Mosswood—not to mention the personalities! Sometimes, it seems as though this chaos of intersections cannot possibly congeal into any form, let alone a cooperative game. Young men stand around yelling at each other, distracted by outlandish threats of superiority from inferior players, last night's gossip, movement in the NFL or NBA, a girl walking by. The more focused players stand shooting on the court, calling for change after their made shots. What in my mind makes this a scene of democracy is both its messiness and its hopefulness; by agreeing to a certain set of rules, a group of people who want different things for different reasons can help satisfy each other.

And then, it feels like all of the sudden, a game takes shape. Either teams are shot for, or captains pick squads. Ten people for a full court game, each team agreeing upon who guards whom on defense, and then they start. The first team to 16 by two points wins and gets to stay on the court, as someone on the sidelines calls next and picks up four with whom to run. The goal, of course, is to stay on the court as long as possible, game after game, hour after hour. Though it is trite to say, no one individual, no matter his or her talent, can stay on the court alone. Only teams can stay on, and even five pillars, huge dudes with beautiful individual games, can be knocked off if they don't move as a team. And as there are no positions in park basketball—though the larger players tend towards center and forward types, and the small and quick tend to act as the point—and one rarely plays with exactly the same people, thereby limiting the chances for forming comprehensive team chemistry, it means that to move as a team looks different to different players at different times. There is a level of observation necessary—to notice or know your team's strengths and preferences, and to do your best to facilitate those aspects, as well as your own. It is always easy to spot someone accustomed to playing team basketball in how quickly they read not their opponent, but their teammates: when to set a screen; when to help on defense in a potential mismatch, etc. Being a good teammate is in no way a selfless act, but it is its own form of ethics, one associated not with ontological abstractions, but with the localized and experiential ethics of what Bourdieu and others have called “practice.” As Thomas McLaughlin says,

[t]he ethic of basketball is extensive and specific, and, remarkably, it is an ethic in motion. In the midst of fast and contested movement, with players making the instantaneous strategy decisions necessary in an improvisatory game, moral decisions are made with equal speed, guided by an ethic[16] that the players tacitly share.[17]

Basketball both produces, and is made possible by, an ethics of engagement that “achieve[s] its undeniably swift and almost instinctive immediacy.”[18]

This form of ethics is not, for me, a metaphor for a greater good; time and time again, the qualities of good sportsmanship in the non-professional are transferred to the workplace, or into familial life. McLaughlin, while good at avoiding those pitfalls, relies instead upon the greater good of joy—“[t]he ethic of basketball aims to produce joy; it seeks that heightened state of awareness and rewards the tiny behaviors that make it possible”[19]—which is, I think, as problematic an abstraction as the ontological ethics he is arguing against. Basketball ethics are, like any other form of routinized and antagonized codes of conduct, quite simply, ways to behave. They are experientially-conditioned and continually-adaptive; to imagine that behaviors always have the telos of joy is a slightly cornier version of imagining that they always have the teloi of justice or truth. Yet this is not to say that joy is not attendant! Basketball is absolutely the most joyful thing I have ever done, and the indisputable best part of any given day. But just as the jazz player cannot be relied upon for transcendence, the gift (one of many) of park basketball is in its unpredictability, in those rare formations of perfection, when everyone and everything, from the sky to the wind, is willing and ready.

These are moments of the sublime, even, I daresay, moments of Schopenhauer's “complete impression of the sublime,” in which the beholder of phenomena “perceives himself, on the one hand as an individual, as the frail phenomenon of will,” but also “the eternal, peaceful, knowing subject, the condition of the object, and, therefore, the supporter of this whole world.”[20] I have only a handful, if even that, of instances of the basketball sublime. As everyone knows, summertime is the best time of year, especially for park basketball. It was the height of a few summers past, and we could play until well past 8 in natural light. Michelle and I had been on the courts since the late afternoon, and we were both already tired as we found ourselves beginning to play a 3 on 3 game with Earl the Pearl as our third. I don't remember who was on the other team, other than they were all men, one of whom was OJ. The game began lazily, but became increasingly competitive, and our team began to gel. Earl began to set picks for my outside shot, and I for his driving lane. Michelle easily stole the ball numberless times from an offense thrown off by her stature, and would clear it to an open and waiting teammate. Soon we were playing rubber matches, or best of 3 games, for multiple sets of 3. The light left the park in a long gloaming, and the ball began to take hazy form, moving through the increasing dark like a comet, and I found myself reaching for its tail, its blurry shadow. The huge tree in front of the court was still there at that time, and it stayed perfectly still for us, shielding the court from the busy thoroughfare of West MacArthur. We played until the constant fear of falling became impossible to ignore, when ankles, landing into unseen blackness, are more prone to roll. We played past the point of exhaustion, past second winds, to the point where your memory reminds you to jump for your shot, but your muscles simply can't. No one made a perfect play, nothing miraculous happened. But for that hour or so, I was part of a perfect organism, doing my best with people doing their best.

Just as basketball both fosters and is made possible by a form of ethics, the precise form of these ethics as they relate to pick up games is, I think, a product of urbanism, of living in increasingly close quarters with strangers. The idealized democratic aspect of this ethic is the belief that what keeps another individual a stranger is an issue of access or proximity; that once ignorance is overcome, a stranger may actually be a neighbor. The possibility of this relationship creates the grounds for a more intimate sociality, even if it falls far short of the Levitical injunction to neighbor-love. And though the inverse of this idea of basketball ethics—that city living is mutually bolstered by playing basketball—is not a “true” claim, I wish it were! I recognize that I am teetering into hypocritical territory; that basketball does in fact extrapolate into a greater good, that of being a good urban citizen. But in this time of massive urbanization, in which the majority of the world since 2009 (and a projected 84% of the global population by mid-century), for the first time in human history, lives in cities—many of which are global metropoles of rapid urbanization without corresponding development,[21] and as we simultaneously see the complex problems in attempting to both export and maintain American democracy, it seems as though basketball and its attendant ethics needn't serve as training for how to live in an urbanized world, but that the urban and urbanizing world take its cues from basketball.

I mean this facetiously and not, but putting basketball first in the order of operations for civic urbanism underscores the ways in which the practices mirror each other, not metaphorically speaking. Both are the product of repetition in small spaces, muscle memories with the occasional flashes of hatred and/or love, the lifetime accumulation of conditioned reflexes. When and if transcendence comes, it is rarely if ever as heroic virtuosity, but instead as some kind of communal sublime, in which we together, all doing our best, deferring death, stave off the “pain of violent conflict” in favor of the “pleasures of disputation.” These joys, as Hickey says, require maintenance, and not systematized forms. At Mosswood, call your fouls if you absolutely must, try to respect the calls of others, shoot the ball over disputed calls, and if the ball don't lie, then that means you were. So how can we, if not by individually transcending the rules, find some form of the sublime within them with others? How can we if not love our neighbor, greatly expand the possibilities for who and what qualifies as neighbors and neighborliness? How can we, in short, make life more like basketball? One easy way: not, as the old slogan of various movements and outlets has it, democracy, now!; but instead: basketball, now!

[1] Ratliff, Ben. “Marsalis, Clinton and Others Dissect Jazz at Symposium”. New York Times, December 11, 2003. Accessed October 6, 2014.

[2] Pinkerton, Steve. “Ralph Ellison’s Righteous Riffs: Jazz, Democracy, and the Sacred”. African American Review, Vol. 44. No. 1-2, Spring/Summer, 2011, p. 187.

[3] Pope, S. W. “Decentering “‘Race and (Re)presenting “Black Performance: Basketball and Jazz in American Culture, 1920–1950” in Deconstructing Sport History : A Postmodern Analysis. Ed. Murray G. Phillips. New York: SUNY Press, 2006. Embedded quote from James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz: The American Theme Song New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, p.p. 147-8.

[4] Adorno, Theodor. Trans. Daniel, Jamie Owen. “On Jazz”. Discourse, Vol. 12, No.1 (Fall-Winter 1989-90), p. 50.

[5] Hickey, Dave. Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy. Los Angeles: Art issues Press, 1997, p. 156.

[6] Many a sports nut would no doubt argue that American football is likewise adaptive, but as I find the sport without pleasure or complexity, I am inclined to disagree. Truthfully, all major sports have changed their rules, even stodgy baseball. Basketball however, I maintain, is the only sport whose rule system attempts to encourage a rapid style of play.

[7] Elcombe, Tim. “Philosophers Can’t Jump: Reflections on Living Time and Space in Basketball” in Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Paint. Eds. Jerry L. Walls and Gregory Bassham. Kentucky: The University of Kentucky Press, 2008, p. 217.

[8] Pope, p. 165.

[9] Eger, Isaac. “ ‘I Got Next’: Exploring New York Through Pickup Basketball”. New York Times, July 11, 2012. Accessed October 9, 2014.

[10] French, Stuart Jere. Urban Green: City Parks of the Western World. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1973, pp. 85-6.

[11] Tate, Alan. Great City Parks. New York: Spoon Press, 2001, p. 1.

[12] Jacobs, Jane. The Life and Death of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books, 1992 edition, p. 99.

[13] Ibid, p. 101.

[14] US Census. Stable URL: Accessed October 13, 2014.

[15] Levin, Sam. “Report: Oakland Median Home Sales Price Jumps 76% in One Year,” East Bay Express, September 25, 2013, accessed March 17, 2015,

[16] McLaughlin summarizes the very basics of this ethic as: call the pick; find the open man; rest on offense; if you're cold, stop shooting; reward the player who hustles.

[17] McLaughlin, Thomas. “The Ethics of Basketball” in Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 13:1, p. 15.

[18] McLaughlin, p. 17.

[19] McLaughlin, p. 19.

[20] Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Idea. Trans. R.B. Haldane and J. Kemp. Project Gutenberg.

[21] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. “Urban and Rural Areas 2009”. Accessed October 30, 2014.

Author Bio

Layla Forrest-White grew up in San Francisco, where she played solo sports & watched the Bulls dominate the NBA. It wasn't until graduate school, the most solo sport of all, that she discovered the joy of playing pick-up basketball, & has been at it ever since. She received her BA in Classics from Reed College, and is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. You can find her at Mosswood Park, longing to dunk.

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