Every good basketball player who has come out of San Diego has played at Muni Gym. It’s like the oldest indoor court in San Diego. Or one of the oldest. At least it smells like its the oldest. The ventilation is bad and it gets really hot in the summertime. It reminds me of the way gyms smelled when I was a kid when all the balls were still made out of leather. Even now, I can go to Muni and the gym can be totally empty and it still smells like sweat and leather and wood. It takes me back twenty-five years.
Back in the day, depending on what time of day you’d go, the games could get pretty competitive. If you lost, you could easily wait an hour just to get another game. Forget the other team; your own teammates would get in your face if you did something wrong. That’s the other thing the gym smelled like: nervousness. It’s a different kind of sweaty smell. Sharper, more pungent. Everyone wanted to play their best at Muni.
I’m thinking about this one time—it had to be in ’99 or 2000. I caught a long rebound and turned to run the fast break. My teammate must have known I grabbed the ball, because he took off to start the fast break. I caught the ball, took one dribble, and passed it nearly the length of the court. I passed it so that all my man had to do was catch it, take one step and lay it in. No dribble. Well, he caught it alright. But as he planted his left foot to go up, his left knee popped out of socket, and the lower part of his leg snapped outward—the direction it’s not supposed to bend. The kid let out a yelp and then just fell on the ground. I can still remember the sound of his yelp, because, it wasn’t, shall we say, commensurate with the injury he sustained. The gym went quiet. All the games stopped and people went looking for the facilities manager. The facilities manager sort of sauntered in, armed with a ghetto icepack—you know, like you fill up a dixie cup with water and put it in the freezer. Anyway, he walks in with this ice pack and sort of goes pale when he sees this guy quivering on the court with his leg broke in half.
The facility manager is dumbfounded. “You want me to call an ambulance?”
“No man. No. It’s all good, just help me up. It’s all good.”
You need to remember that “It’s all good” was like a year or two old at that time. Everyone was saying, "It’s all good."
Well here I am in this hot, leathery gym, looking down at this guy who looked like he just stepped on a land mine, and he’s saying “It’s all good” when clearly—CLEARLY—it is anything but good.
But I wasn’t gonna argue with him. I might have overthrown it a little bit, so if it was all good with him, it was all good with me.
- Brian Goeltzenleuchter