Thousands of fans descended on Morgan State’s tiny campus on Tuesday, and between purchasing tickets and waiting with 4,500 people to go through four metal detectors, it took me about two-and-half hours to finally make it to a seat, and that would’ve been on the low end compared to most fans. But that’s part of what makes this indie wave of basketball so unique.
The genius of summer basketball’s mainstream arrival isn’t in the players, but the fans — the people willing to seek out a tiny gym tucked away in Baltimore just to watch a pickup game. The ones who left work early to shell out $40 for tickets without any guarantees of what they’re getting. The millions of others that follow the games online, watching grainy web feeds and tracking Twitter.
We all know that guys like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul play basketball all year round, but if 2011’s endless summer of grassroots hoops has taught us anything new, it’s that in cities all over the country, NBA or no NBA, there’s an underground world of basketball fans who chase the next big game just as hard as Durant.
While we all waited in line, the people around me set the scene. In front of me, two guys were going back and forth. “I saw Carmelo like two weeks ago,” says the man in front of me. “But Bron?“
His friend nods. “Yeah. Bron bring ’em out,” he says, “But KD gon’ put ’em down.”
To my left, another fan is talking about Durant. “He does this every night, man. Every night. Watch, he gon’ put up like 45, at least.” Five minutes later, the same fan predicts Durant will go for 60. Another five minutes pass, and I hear him say, “He could go for like, 80.”
Behind me, I heard a fan complaining about ticket prices. “Man for 40 dollars they better be servin’ us a meal in there.” Another voice: “Man $40? They coulda charged A HUNDRED for this.”
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