Last week I introduced the Thundercats, a team of local basketball players who took part in the Nike 3on3 tournament in downtown L.A. on the weekend of Aug. 6-7. Our son Danny, who graduated from CVHS in June, was part of the team.
With the freedom to choose anything as a “uniform,” the boys decided to have T-shirts with the cartoon Thundercats logo on the front and their “street” names on the back – Steady, Flash, Birdman, Afroman. They opted for short shorts, like those worn by players in the ’70s and finished their look with sweatbands. Their strategy was to a) unnerve their opponents and/or b) if they lost, then their opponent would feel that the victory was marginalized due to the weirdness of the Thundercats.
On Saturday, it looked like this strategy was working.
The Thundercats took to the court at 9:30 a.m. against Hax Black. Being the first game, the Thundercats didn’t know what to expect. They were a little nervous at first – Hax Black seemed a strong opponent, but once the Cats got their rhythm it didn’t take long for them to acquire the 20 points needed to win the game with Danny sinking the final points.
The Thunder-kittens (the players’ girlfriends) were dressed in shirts with the name of their player on the back. They came prepared with homemade signs to cheer their guys on.
With round one over, our next game wasn’t until 2 o’clock. Steve, our son Andy, our friend Tom whose son Nick was a Thundercat, and I walked over to The Pantry to grab a bite to eat. I had never eaten there and in fact my only acquaintance with the café was on the Los Angeles Monopoly game board. After waiting in a line out the door, we were seated and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast. I did panic for a moment when I realized that The Pantry does not take credit cards or checks – cash only, thank you. But with Tom’s help we covered our bill and didn’t have to wash dishes.
Heading back to the courts, we saw that the Staples Center was open for tours. So in we went to check out some of the behind the scenes of the iconic arena.
It was cool to sit in front row seats, to get an idea of how the wealthy get to check out the game – that is until we saw what the price of that seat was. Thousands of dollars! Holy cow! Looking around the arena, the Staples Center had taped various prices onto different sections to give fans an idea of what the prices were.
We also had a chance to see the Clippers locker room. We found our Thundercats there as well.
With wood lockers and a white board that you know coaches had written plays on, it had a “treat me like a pro” feel to it. Danny mused that one day, wouldn’t it be cool to be a player coming into that locker room?
Back on their court, the Thundercats took on Bresee Vitals who had a totally different playing style. The Cats had to quickly adapt. Though more difficult, the Thundercats again were victorious.
On Sunday, we got an extra 30 minutes of sleep as the Thundercats didn’t have to be on the court until 10 a.m. Unfortunately our opponent – Juan on Juan – ran into problems with the Metro and missed their game so we won on forfeit.
However, our last two games were also against Juan on Juan who had arrived courtside.
The team was tough and the games ended with our boys losing by just a couple of points.
I asked the Cats if they’d come back next year. Without hesitation: Yes. They had fun and got to play in a way unlike an organized league. The tournament allowed them more court to expand and to try new things. No coach, no yelling, no running plays.
As Danny said, everyone loves street ball – players can better capitalize on opportunities and sometimes latent skills come out because there’s fewer players on the court.
For us and them, it was a fun weekend, a chance to play “true” basketball.