"I play all
the time at St. John's against guys like Schaeffer and Billy Paultz of the New
York Nets. And last summer I played one-on-one against John Roche, and I think
I did O.K. But there are a lot of times when I have to work on my own moves. By
myself. In a game, you can't stop and do that."
He keeps shooting
at the rim in his backyard, and every shot that is on target continues through
the hoop and bounces off the court. "You know what I look forward to when
I'm at school?" he asks, his blue eyes never losing sight of the rim.
"To coming home and shooting in my backyard."
He continues to
pump away, effortlessly, shot after shot. Winters backs up and opens the
driveway gate, disappearing around the side of the house. All that can be seen
now is a ball arching from out of sight and dropping time after time through
the hoop. A voice comes from around the corner. "My 25-footer from the
driveway is great. Too bad I can't take the garage with me to games."
Winters comes back into view, working his way in for some turnaround
you play to win," he says. "You can't really shoot from outside because
of the wind and bent rims and all that. You just drive all the time and throw
the ball up any old way. That's O.K., but it always seems a lot of guys who
play great in parks sort of fold in organized games."
The smile leaves,
and for awhile he is jut-jawed and earnest. He shoots each jumper precisely the
way he shot the last. He moves around the tiny court and then backs out the
driveway, returning every few seconds to retrieve the ball. His black dog comes
out and watches. A boy rides up on his bike, observes for a few minutes and
then moves on. There is no sound except the monotonous whack, whack of the
They crazy!" yells Fly Williams, super sophomore at Austin Peay University,
his arms waving to show the immensity of that craziness. "They seriously
insane in my neighborhood."
He stands there
smiling, holding court in front of seven or eight of his basketball-playing
buddies. All of them are from Brooklyn. From Brownsville, South Brooklyn,
Canarsie, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant; from the ghettos and housing
projects. And they all nod in agreement.
"I mean, if
you don't have a gun—maybe five or six guns—you in real trouble. The other
night this dude's standing in a building yelling, 'Shoot me! Shoot me!' And
this other dude was holding a gun in the mother's face the whole time. And he
shot him. The shot dude comes staggering out on the sidewalk and lays there.
And the people—man, the people on the sidewalk—they just stood around and
laughs. So does everybody else. They laugh and punch each other at his wild
delivery. He is a comedian, and like good comedians, his material is part
comic, part tragic.