Poets on Sports

Hoop Dreams

by Tyler Gobble

Dream as the roving pictures, fabricated visions, impossible details conjured while sleeping.


And when I sleep, it goes. My mind conquered by (my?) imagination. Or maybe the imagination, the chopped liver memories, my internalized fears teaming up to lay waste to my mind, its boxes.

The fits I have, the shouting “it’s not funny, it’s not funny,” the demand of whoever is in earshot (if anyone at all!) to turn on the lights, the waking up and going “what the fuck”—what’s that all about? How or why do they end?


Consider this the “Selected Dreams of Basketball Folks of Tyler Gobble”—mike-krzyzewski

  • Greg Oden can’t figure out how a balloon works. He keeps blowing into the hole his hand makes when he signals “a-okay” to his onlookers, the limp balloon dangling like a flesh wound.
  • Coach K rubs two erasers together and starts a fire.
  • Bill Russell laces up his sneakers and goes back to bed. He dreams about me instead.
  • Shaq reaches into a well and pulls out a rabbit. “Ha ha, the earth’s magic hat,” he chuckles.
  • Scottie Pippen isn’t born. He hatches from an egg that is stuck to another, slightly larger egg.
  • Mookie Blaylock moseying door-to-door, dressed up as Mookie Blaylock for Halloween.
  • It was March, the sky full of birds, the ground full of people, all of them, the birds and the people, wearing Dick Vitale masks.
  • Rasheed Wallace choking out a sack of groceries at Harvest Supermarket, the missing tile store right down the road from my childhood home.
  • In Biloxi, as my dad drives me to live with my new family, I see a billboard that says, “Kobe Bryant Hates Women.” You’ve been traded, my dad says.
  • Bonzi Wells is kicked off his Chinese Basketball League team after he fails to return from the Chinese New Year break because he has become the dragon.
  • Bobby Knight plays racquetball alone.
  • When the doctor walks in, Brandon Roy is juggling rotten fruit. Oh, and I’m the doctor.
  • Kevin Durant at a Taco Bell drive-thru, watching the sunset.
  • It’s my first “real” date, and we are at Chick-Fil-A. Gary Payton sits across from me, holding my hand.
  • I hear a rumor: inside every basketball is a miniature Damon Bailey. I cut open thousands to be sure. And yep, it’s true.
  • John Stockton sitting in his rocking chair, a double-barrel shotgun across his lap. He’s waiting for the mail. Every day, he’s waiting for the mailman to return.


Dreams as in broad hopes, wild goals, often fantasies, to yearn towards.


As my cousin and I grew taller, the basketball goal we lowered got raised back up a bit. When no one was watching, we’d get out the broom handle and lower it down, dunkable. We did this until we were in our teens, until we were above average height, him eventually clipping off at 6’ 5” and me sprouting fast to 6’ in middle school, where I’ve been ever since (that height, not middle school). We were surely the next MJ and Pippen, Stockton and Malone, the Pacers’ bruising Davis boys.

We yapped about the team we wanted to draft us. We envisioned the big trucks we were going to cruise up into our parents’ new driveways with (the houses we bought them, of course!). We got into a fist fight at basketball camp when I made him look bad during a pick-up game. On the edge of our grandpa’s cornfields, we slammed on that tiny-ed goal until the cows literally came home, worrying about our millions and our fame and our hoop dreams.

But he got lazy and really into the band. And I got lazy and really into girls. (Oh, and we were never that great with the goal back up to its intended 10’ anyways.)


“I always dreamt of being a basketball player. A dream that only I believed in.” – David Duchovny


“All I ever dreamed about was playing in the NBA.”


Tell us Kareem—“I tell kids to pursue their basketball dreams, but I tell them to not let that be their only dream.”


On that wicked show Dexter, the fictional-now-famous serial killer (and blood spatter crime scene investigator!) and his “equally damaged” (or so believes Dexter) girlfriend Rita (raped and abused by her former husband) eat dinner with the normal conversation between them, until the conversation turns to “normal.” Finishing each other’s sentences, they spew how they don’t want these wild lives anymore. No, they want to be normal.


DamonBaileyIndiana basketball legend Damon Bailey got selected by the Pacers in ’94, the only year he’d spend a season in the league, a year he spent on the injured list. He never played in a regular season NBA game.

I was six years old. My memory says my grandma babysat him once (or maybe babysat his mother?). This could all be a lie. Anyhow, we went to a Pacers game—TO SEE DAMON BAILEY—and waited in a bulbous line. I dreamed of being that dude, mingling with the people, being a commodity, the clouds of whispered memories about me—my high school player of the year awards, my time under Coach Knight, the bucket truck loads of points I scored—like a fog surrounding.


“A player dreams of being a superstar, but he doesn’t want people flocking all over him asking for an autograph.” — Dennis Rodman


Dream as in exceptionally gratifying, smooth and ideal, everything your little heart could wish for.


The [insert team name here] offense ran like a dream tonight. It was something like a dream, meeting [insert superstar’s name here]. [Insert team name here] had a dream run in this year’s March Madness tournament. My whole life, like a dream.


“All kingdoms end in a dream.” – Celine

One comment on “Hoop Dreams

  1. ptrotti
    December 2, 2013

    Awesome post man. Really like the fluidity of it. Hoop Dreams was, as a young boy playing competitive basketball all the way through college, and is still is, a favorite movie of mine.

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