The coolest pickup basketball game in Chicago isn't happening at the East Bank Club or the Multiplex, but on a nondescript asphalt court in the shadow of a dilapidated church on a hardscrabble West Side block of Diversey Avenue.
There, a who's who of corporate and cultural leaders has been gathering to rub shoulders, test their hoop skills and raise some money for the impoverished neighborhood where they play.
In one recent game, writer Claire Zulkey showed off some ambidextrous dribbling and a nifty crossover move to the hole; sketch comedians Inda Craig-Galván and Kevin Douglas dropped by; all-business Chicago White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn coolly ran an offense; floppy-haired standup comedian Kumail Nanjiani worked through a crowd; insurance heir Pat Ryan Jr. mixed it up under the boards; a tall young MBA from AT&T who'd played college basketball dunked authoritatively; Justin Kaufmann of Schadenfreude scrappily grabbed a rebound; and the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn used his height to shoot over a smaller defender. Courtside, Dan Wilhelm of the NYC-based nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice quizzed Jam Theatricals' Steve Traxler about real estate investments.
As news of the impromptu game has spread, more big shots have been quietly, urgently angling for an invitation. Media coverage has grown; a CLTV crew was filming the above players. For now, though, it's still the casual, organic phenomenon it was when it started.
Considering that I had nothing to do with putting it together, you might find it odd that pretty much everyone in this game has crossed paths with yours truly at some point in their lives, and you'd be right.
There's a good reason for that, the same reason you and I will never play in this game: it doesn't actually exist. It all took place in a mind-blowingly realistic dream I just woke up from in a start a few minutes ago. I wish it had been real, because I'd love to get in.
I sometimes have vivid, detailed dreams like this and immediately forget them upon awakening. This time I thought I'd not only reduce it to writing but share it with you, my literally tens of readers.