“I would rather,” my teammate confided in a moment of truthful abandon, “have my hands on a nice leather basketball than on a pair of tits.” And, though a provocative claim, I could not refute it. I mean, how would it be possible? As my novelist friend might ask, could James Naismith refute that? Alfred Kinsey? Could Dean Smith, two-time-NCAA-championship-winning coach and architect of the four-corners-stall offense? No, they couldn’t. You can’t refute that. I don’t care who you are and what relation you have to sporting equipment or breasts. Only my teammate and the tactile response to his girlfriend’s buoyant yet undersized McJibblies will ever know the truth of the matter. I can merely speculate. He does love ball. But he also loves breasts. Perhaps Maslow can illuminate. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the desire to fondle breasts would fall in the Love/Belonging layer, smack in the middle of the pyramid. The need to fondle a basketball is a little more difficult to classify, but an argument could be made that it is a peak experience for the self-actualized individual, placing it at the top of the pyramid.

Further evidence in support of his assertion: he is more likely to attend a Laker or Clipper game than visit the Spearmint Rhino Gentleman’s Club or Bob’s Classy Lady in Van Nuys.

Countervailing evidence: he spends hours glued to his computer and has made more than a passing mention of the website Bustyadventures.com. He once suggested that breast-reduction surgery was a violation of the Hippocratic oath. Seems fond of the vulgarism “flopjacks.”

It’s a classic dilemma, I think, much like Machiavelli’s debate in The Prince between being loved or feared. “The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” A bit facile, let’s be honest. Sure, in a perfect world, my teammate would have unlimited access to both. In his case, when there is the inevitable competition between the two and a choice must be made, a simple conclusion is tough to reach.

But I do know this—the guy is obsessed with basketball.

And so am I.

And so is English, perhaps most of all, considering he plays in leagues sometimes six times a week.

The result of all this basketball mania? Against the undermanned Golden State Warriors, a sweet, tasty victory. We are officially rolling, having won three in a row, or, if you count the stolen victory against the Bucks in Week 2, four straight. I am not sure the empirical definition of a streak, but it definitely feels like we are now on one. Which isn’t to say this game wasn’t an adventure. We got out to a commanding early lead, but rather than keeping the pedal to the metal we let up and lost some focus. Our second unit came in, which is often an adventure. Bigs, our UPN star, fired a ball over the basket from point-blank range. There were some turnovers, some fouls—I had a concentration lapse and sent my opponent to the line twice in a row. I thought I would be more nervous with my parents in the stands, but once I got into the flow of the game I was able to settle in OK.

There was an odd moment before the game, though, that had the Captain a bit rattled: at the training table, he asked Bigs if he would spray some numbing medicine on his lower back. Bigs took aim with one giant paw and used the other—NBAE female employees and other players were milling about—to shuck the Captain’s hindquarters like an ear of Kansas corn and proceeded to blast his bare white ass. Mortified, the Captain reached around and tugged his shorts back up.

“Just my back,” he said.

Bigs, retaining no modesty after years in NFL locker rooms before becoming an actor, pulled the Captain’s shorts down again and a fine aerosol mist exhaled from the canister. The Captain, humiliated, whirled to pull up his shorts and quickly slunk away to the locker room.

We didn’t need much of anyone at full strength, because the Warriors are reliant on one player, an actor who played college ball and accounts for roughly half their offense. English is such a good defender, like the Glove in his Seattle heydey, that the actor had a hard time getting into a rhythm. Taking him out of the game is like removing the plaid from Burberry.

What the Warriors lacked in talent they compensated for in antics. The point guard got matched up against me briefly and started making monkey noises when I had the ball. They also started stomping in unison. Chanting “Our time!” or some such. Frankly, there was more excitement before the game when two members of opposing teams from the previous contest almost got into a fight. One of the amateur pugilists was a famous R & B singer and the other worked in the music business. The commissioner wasn’t happy about it, especially since neither player ended up taking any responsibility for the shouting/shoving match.

With the holidays upon us, we’re dark for two weeks and then return in the new year with a game against the New York Knicks, a squad chock-full of our buddies. They have a lot of athletes and could well be around at the end. We’ll see if we’re up to the challenge.