In chapter 15 of Basketball Jones, AJ ponders leaving Dray, my future husband Mo prepares his big party, jade drops a ball of gossip that makes me stop and gape at the prospects to come, and learn something about Dray that makes me sorry that I judged him so prematurely. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.
I am beginning to realize that these chapters are having a pattern of being short. I wonder if that’s because the author wanted to move things along and/or drop a ball, such as a hint or something, and then move on. It leaves very little to talk about in my wake, however, because what’s beginning to happen are singular events that span entire chapters. In this chapter, for instance, AJ has a phone conversation with three people and then lies down with Dray, and that’s it.
At the beginning of the chapter, I learn that it has been days since Dray contacted AJ. I’m guessing because Dray was so thickheaded that he thought AJ would berate him about his personal life. Then again, Dray feels better about things when he gets away from all the drama and the chaos for a while. That’s just who Dray is, though, the kind of person who goes away and then when he comes back, he feels better about whatever situation that’s happening. At least that’s civil of him.
AJ is doing nothing but looking at the ‘net for traces of Dray’s activity when my boyfriend, Mo, calls him to tell him that he has everything all set up for the big party, even getting the sponsors that he had been trying to get, and even making friends with the hottest black gay blogger this side of the gay community. I’m really happy for my boyfriend, but while I’d like to wallow in the ever filling presence that is Mo, AJ still has quite the problem on his hands, and that is the blackmailer, who I’m convinced is Cisco. AJ hangs up and gets another call immediately after. It’s Jade, but what does she have to say?
She’s been on the lookout for a man for AJ because her psychic powers work beautifully, and she successfully deduces that AJ is single. She asks if he likes basketball players, not realizing that AJ has a basketball player for a boyfriend. I personally think he should start hitting on Dray’s teammates and see what he could get that’s better than Dray, but I digress. Jade says something very interesting, however, and when she says it, I just have to stop and react to the news.
“I went out a couple of nights ago with the guy who’s going to make sure I meet Reggie Bush and we were hanging out with some of his boys. After we’d had some drinks they started talking about some guy who plays in the NBA who’s gay and who’s about to come out. They didn’t say who, but I think he might play in New Orleans.”
Wow! Wait a minute here. Hold the phone, hold the gasps, and hold the faces. You are not prepared for my torrent of feelings!
This means that the blackmailer is closer than we would all guess. It could be many people at the same time. This is wild. I wonder if she means Dray. If she does, then this would be huge dynamics to take into consideration. I don’t think one singular person is in on this. I think that many people who know AJ and many people who know Dray are banding together to ask for money. This is something I am totally fascinated by. I’m convinced that Cisco is working for someone and/or with someone. Maybe this entire thing has been planned for years, making sure Dray moves to New Orleans, hiring Cisco, I wonder if people were planning on this for years. I don’t think anyone in this book is that smart, but I just want to pass that thought on to the World Wide Web. These are big developments, and it means that the blackmailer has other plans and other tricks up his sleeve that he wishes to put into action sooner or later.
Oh my god, someone help! I am eternally unprepared for what this means!
AJ, naturally, is freaked out by this news and calls Dray straight away, but Dray has returned home already, bathing AJ in a bath of apologies and explanations. The chapter ends with Dray still apologizing to AJ as the two climb into bed together. One of his explanations sends me reeling for an entirely different reason. I didn’t even know Dray, and I judged him.
“Hey, Aldridge,” Dray said, sounding to me as vulnerable as a little boy. “I really am sorry. I know you think I’m trippin’ and maybe I am, but I couldn’t hurt my pops like that. He is everything to me. You never knew your dad, so you might not understand. When I was a little boy, he lost his job and could only find work in Mobile, which was almost six hours away from our home in Mississippi. Seeing him gone all of a sudden, everybody in my neighborhood thought he was like most black men we knew, that he had left his family. But that was not the case. He called us every day and when I had basketball games he made every one of them. My pops told me it was important to him to set an example to me and my siblings so we would become adults he and my mother would be proud of. I’m not saying he’s right about everything, but there are certain things I could do that would hurt him, and nothing is so important to me that I would hurt my father. Does that make sense to you?”
One of the big things in my life has always been people who take on the role of fathers and/or actual fathers because I have never had a dad, so I don’t know what that kind of support is like. I just don’t understand the importance of this because I have never had this. There are people other than me who believe that this isn’t a solid way to base morals, but those immediate thoughts are based purely off of something being missing all of our lives. I myself believe that you shape whatever and/or whoever you want to be. It’s all dynamic because you make it so as a person with goals and choices and desires and needs.
Dray did have a father, though, so I understand that the importance is there because his father made it a point to be the best man that he could be, except he isn’t, since he isn’t inclusive.
I am not sure how moving this is in the black community since I am not within that community, but I always hear it touted as a huge accomplishment when a black man stays by his wife’s side to take care of a baby boy and/or girl. It’s something to be respected, from what I gathered from watching YouTube videos of black men say proudly that my dad was there for me. I’ve never looked at the statistics of this, but I do believe that it’s something that should not be praised for. I understand that it’s uncommon for a black man to be a strong father, or who knows, I could be wrong and it’s more common than I may think because my experience has been listening to my black friends and black people on YouTube from all walks of life say that this is an accomplishment, that their dad raised them. They tout it as if it’s a trophy and while that’s wonderful and epic on many levels, it can also lead to dire aftereffects, such as with Dray and how he views the world.
Dray is unwilling to say who he is, a bi man, because his father didn’t approve of the LGBT community. This is discriminatory. While I am able to see that because I have never had to be thankful because the man did what he was supposed to do, be a father, I understand now why the need to be accepted is a big issue in his life. His father was a father to him. Dray feels that his father did that as an extra, and this is not a good way to think and/or feel because, with him being bi, this leaves Dray to feel as though his father was a father for nothing because his father hates the LGBT community. Since he hates the LGBT community, Dray feels, since he’s bi, that he’s wasted his father’s time, but Dray has been fed the accomplishment crap that his father did what he did, be a father, and that’s something to be complimented. It’s not, and it has made Dray so messed up in his virtues that Dray doesn’t understand why all these out men are even out, because that would surely be a disgrace to their families.
The basis for shaping something as delicate as morals and ethics should not be singularized on one glorified accomplishment. Dray isn’t a complete person, and I don’t think he will ever become one. I feel sorry for Dray. He feels he owes his dad. This is hurtful because I know people like this. They think their existence is gifted to one person so they will strip all of their inner feelings to be who the other wants them to be. This is seriously hurtful! I want to just hug Dray forever!
The only thing that I can say is this kind of thing is not the best way to raise a child because the lasting effects will leave the adult with many issues enveloping acceptance. They may lie to get someone to like them, etc. This makes me understand Dray a whole lot more, and I don’t know how I could have judged him so harshly in the beginning.
Now I see why Dray needs AJ not just because Dray is a dummy but AJ brings certain clarity to Dray’s past. AJ is out and AJ is okay, so Dray likes seeing AJ because he knows that if he sees AJ is okay then it will be okay for him too, somewhere down the road.
This was a huge development, and I can’t wait to read more and see what new things I will learn next. I want to hug Dray now, because I hope he realizes that his father wasn’t a good man at all, or at least not as good of a man as Dray thinks that he is. I’m intrigued to read on! Stay tuned!
*The views and opinions expressed are those of the reviewers and do not reflect those of The Novel Approach*