"My mother is too drunk to be an astronaut."
- my favorite Billy Hoyle quote from White Men Can't Jump.
White Men Can't Jump. When I think of this movie, the phrase "culturally iconic" comes to mind. This movie released in 1992, but still retains the swagger that made it cool & entertaining in the first place. From the slang, to the clothing, to Rosie Perez rollerblading on the Venice boardwalk, this movie is a classic. If you haven't seen it, please find it and watch it. It's 2017, it shouldn't be hard to find. But before I'm unable to contain myself from ranting on about this incredible flick, let me get back on subject.
We last left our beloved protagonist on Venice beach with his friend/business partner Sidney Dean. Of course, they were exchanging some friendly trash talk and making a bet on a pickup game. I've never seen a movie use trash talk as the main source of dialogue like White Men Can't Jump. It's incredible. But Billy had to grow up, right? There was never a sequel to WMCJ, so we never got to see what happened to Billy after his infamous dunk in a pickup game against King & Duck Johnson. Even though he seemed like he was in good spirits, Billy had to figure out a plan. So, I took the liberty of imagining what Billy Hoyle got into after his time hustling the courts with Sidney. Here's what I came up with:
Ignorance is bliss, and it seemed like Billy's stupidity is the one thing that kept him going after all his bad decisions. Billy's debt with the Stucci brothers was finally paid off, which meant he could finally settle down somewhere and stop running. Unfortunately, his girlfriend Gloria had left him because he just couldn't say no to another bet. Gloria was usually the brains of the operation, and Billy was running low on cash, so he decided to leave California and head back home to Louisiana for work. This didn't last very long. Billy had lost contact with most of his family except for a few cousins. He had a few short stints in custodial services at some local gyms, but he kept getting in trouble for heckling local players during pickup games. Not the best look for somebody trying to build their work portfolio. So naturally, Billy went back to doing the one thing he knew best, hustling. Now, he couldn't play the role of "goofy white m*therf*cker" in Louisiana because he was fairly well known from his playing days at LSU. He needed some new courts and fresh faces to hustle. He wanted to avoid any cold weather climates (in case he ended up homeless) so he headed back west to Arizona.
Hot weather, hot concrete courts, hot women. Billy loved Arizona. He was making decent money hustling, and his name was earning some respect. He had been in Arizona for about five months and his arrow was pointing up, until the unexpected happened. Billy's knees were wearing down after all the years of pounding on concrete. He was struggling with patellar tendinitis, which is commonly known as jumper's knee. He would have to ice both knees constantly and finally one day, he had to sub himself out of a pickup game. As Billy limped off the court he joked with some spectators that he's "just getting old". He laughed as he said this, but Billy WAS getting old. He was 30. And any athlete knows that once you turn 30, your body starts to wear down quickly. This was a wake up call that basketball was not going to pay the bills forever. It was time for a change.
Life without basketball was pretty much out of the question for Billy. So the next best thing after playing the game, was coaching the game. With no coaching experience, Billy wasn't even sure where to start. Luckily, he made a few key connections in some of his pickup games in Arizona. Jeff David, was the vice principal at a local middle school, and former division 2 basketball player. He was also a big time LSU fan, which also made him a fan of Billy. After Billy presented him with his idea to coach, Jeff decided to give him a shot. Billy was the new assistant coach at Jackson Middle School. Of course, Billy overstepped his boundaries during practice and games. He was impatient, intense, and often forgot that he was around young teenagers, not middle aged street ballers. His coaching stint was very short lived. Billy would yell his infamous motivational phrase "get in the f*cking zone!" to his players, which didn't sit so well with parents. His short temper caused him to lash out at referees, which resulted in him getting technicals, and being ejected. He was ejected from 5 of the 8 games he coached, and was banned from coaching youth basketball in Arizona. Bad knees, no more basketball, and running low on cash, Billy Hoyle needed to figure it out quickly.
Life after Basketball
It was time for Billy to face the music. And this particular music wasn't similar to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, but more like Michael McDonald. He needed a real job. He applied everywhere he could. Till finally, he was hired at Staples. The hiring manager could tell Billy was desperate, and decided to give him a chance. Billy actually thrived in the Staples environment. He always had the best March Madness bracket, and his coworkers were constantly coming to him for answers to their debates on NBA players (most questions were "who played for what team"). Billy has been full time at Staples for over three years now. He's been promoted to assistant manager, and he even gets to play basketball a few times a week in a recreational league. Billy is happy. He gets to do what he loves, but he's also stable.
I guess you can say Billy grew up. But I think the right thing to say is that Billy finally found balance. Too much of one thing never really ends up being the solution. Don't overwork yourself, but try not to play all the time. It takes time to learn this, some longer than others, but that's not what matters. What matters is the journey, and the people you meet & places you go along that journey. Once you're able to find that balance, don't overthink it, and just be grateful for the position the universe put you in.