Saturday, October 06, 2007

My Name is Bobby Jones, and I'm Filipino

So, yes, you read the title correctly. Yes I was born as Nathan Anderson to two white parents. But one night a week, on Wednesday nights (and sometimes other times too), I am Bobby Jones, the Filipino. Let me explain.

About 3 or 4 months ago, my cashier at work, Rommel, found out that I enjoy playing basketball. He said that he plays with a group of guys over in Mt. Juliet, TN. He lives close to me, so he knew it was only a short trip down I-40 going east for me, so he invited me to come join them.

So, I decided to join him one night, knowing that I could use the exercise. What I didn't know was that all the people there would be Filipino, which isn't a big deal, just surprised me some. (Rommel is Filipino, so I guess it shouldn't have.)

Some things hit me pretty quickly. One, I clearly hadn't played basketball in a while. You should have seen me trying to dribble the ball! everyone but me! Two, this was the first place I had played with 2-3 zone defense in pick-up basketball (as opposed to just guarding "your man," you guard a certain section of the court). Third, linked to the first two things, I was not going to contribute much on offense.

Because of this, I basically just used my quickness to play defense, get some steals and blocks, and get out on the fast break. About half-way through the night, I got a rebound in the middle near the basket and decided to use the ol' Anderson Hook to shoot (it was actually more of a semi-hook shot). This was a shot that my dad and uncle had always used growing up, so it was nothing new to me. But when the ball miraculously went in, it was apparently something new to all of these Filipino dudes.

This is where I got my name. At the start of the next game, one of the guys called me Bobby Jones. I just looked at him. Then another guy said it. I was totally confused, so I looked at Rommel and he just shrugged. They said it a few more times, so Rommel later asked why they were calling me that. They said I reminded them of Bobby Jones...and I still just stared at them, trying to figure out what current player (that I hadn't heard of) was called Bobby Jones. Well, it turns out, they were talking about the Bobby Jones from the late-70's to mid-80's 76ers teams. Once they explained that, I kinda had an idea of what they were talking about.

When I got home, the first thing I did was google Bobby Jones. I came across this link. This actually was a pretty good comparison. Never the star on the team, but a guy who got a handful of rebounds, a few blocks and steals, a few assists, that sounded about right. So, from then on, a few of them call me Nate, Rommel calls me Mr. Anderson, and everyone else calls me Bobby Jones or Bobby.

That's how I got the name. Now how I got a new race.

Last Wednesday, we were playing as normal. I was on a team of all Filipinos, and there were a few 'hood-wannabes there too. Some of them had been there before. But the newest guy had a problem with the way teams were picked. To play the winner of the current game, you just call, "NEXT," to get in. It's not the way I prefer. Early in the night, I'd rather it be about who has played the least games, and sometimes that comes into play too. But this one new guy had a huge problem with it. He said we were cheating about who got to play. And as some people do, the pitch of his voice kept getting higher and higher. Then, finally, he said, "It's because I'm African-American, ain't it?!" I just stared at him (apparently, that's a common reaction for me). He went on about how we were cheating and didn't want him to play. Well, I didn't really want him to play. He talks too much, is a horrible teammate (I had to get onto him for telling a 13 year old kid that he sucked and wasn't good enough to play with him), so, yeah, I didn't want him to play because he's no fun to play with. We are all just there having good competitive fun, they way it should be. We laugh when I throw the ball to the wrong team (I'm good for one per night), and we cheer and say, "Nice play," when someone does something good. So, for this guy to imply that we wanted to or needed to cheat didn't sit well.

Well, he kept going on and on. It ended up delaying the start of the next game for 5 minutes. Then, he actually paused, amazing us all. I thought maybe it was hitting him how stupid he sounded. But, no. His next words were, "It's because I'm not Filipino." Of course, I'm looking around. Granted, I'm the only white guy on the court or even around it. No one knew what to say to this, so we just finally started the game up. One of the Filipino guys, Ai, came up to me as we started and said, "You're Filipino." My response was a sophisticated, "Huh?" So, he said again, "You're Filipino. He said it's because he's not, so you must be." We all got a good laugh, then started the game.

So, yeah. Apparently my name is Bobby Jones and I'm Filipino. I have to admit, I'm somewhat proud of that.