The Great Plotnik

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The shootings yesterday were on people's minds this morning at Treasure Island. The tough, tattooed kids with the gold teeth, along with us older, more traditional-looking dudes, all of us just kept shaking our heads the way all of you are shaking yours.

Basketball is a leveler. The young guys and the older gents, that's who comes to the T.I. gym on Saturdays. The kids live on the island, a lot of them are in the jobs program sponsored by the government, and the rest of us drive in. Plot's the only one from Saint Plotniko, everyone else has moved to the East Bay. And no matter how fast a young kid is, no matter how much better he thinks he is than you, if you play in the game you are on the team. The respect team.

And a shooting like yesterday upsets everyone's apple cart. You've got to explain it to your kids. How do you do that? These murderers are always young white men. That fact is not lost on young black men, themselves usually blamed for most of society's ills.

Nobody gets it. Like Orlando said, "I can see getting mad and shooting somebody, if that's what you've got to do. Then you can kill yourself and it's done. But shooting your mother? Then getting in the car, going into an elementary school? Five year old kids? Nahhhhh. Nah. Nuh uh."

We run and run, no one argues, no one calls fouls, no one complains. One game glissandos into the next. Everyone smiles. It's not anything like playing at the HLFJCC.

Plotnik can't help thinking: Did this young lunatic ever get to play basketball with his buddies? Did he have a game like this to look forward to every week, so next Saturday could be a brand new day, and last Saturday just a prelude to the one that's coming up?

The Great Plotnik is grateful beyond words that he still gets to do the thing he loves best. If there were one prayer in his heart, he would offer this feeling of being part of a team to the lost, tortured and troubled souls on our big, blue, and often impersonal planet.


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