After Natalie Diaz’s “Top Ten Reasons Why Indians Are Good at Basketball”

  1. Another boy can throw his ass within the pocket of your hips in public.
  1. It is a way to show off one’s new kicks, and say, “I got more after wearing these down,” even if that is far from the truth.
  1. We battle with the ball, so the court is where we learn what it is to win, what it is to lose. We no longer have to jump a boy, mouth loaded with threats and a knife or hammer at our hips.
  1. We pass threats along with the ball. And it is the role of every player to ensure that we survive whatever is at the end of our sentences. Regardless of teams, we know each other in this neighborhood. And what would we be if we lost a regular. Nobody needs to die here.
  1. Playing defense allows us to protect something, and the ball finds its way out of the net even when we fail. We know what it is for a body to vanish under the frisking of fingers when protection inevitably fails.
  1. Setting a screen is a gesture of the body, demanding another to stop for both our sakes. An eroticism we love to taste.
  1. The court is another home: we can arrive at any time of day, and the hoop welcomes us with the wideness of its mouth. Even on a rare day of rain, when shoes have no traction, the court continues to be a place where we can find safety.
  1. The safety of the court is not an escape. Anyone and everyone is free to walk onto the concrete or watch from the sideline where the radio plays out of a parked car.
  1. The court is a home for the hammer of our legs as we untether ourselves from the ground and launch our will into the confines of a textured orange ball arching toward the painted red metal of the hoop. Someone catches the ball before it gives its energy to the earth, and they move.
  1. The court is one of the few places where myths of our failure do not exist. It is where we first stretch our being into something other than ourselves. We care about everyone else’s location—if they have the stamina to speed away from one side of the court to the other. We all want to see the hoop taste the dirt, sweat, and citrus of the basketball.

Kalidas Shanti ’22 is a staff writer