So, earlier on Tuesday there was a video posted in the comments section regarding Pop-A-Shot basketball. If you missed it, you can check it out here. It’s an impressive display of shooting to be sure. Now, you might be wondering why this video was posted on my blog. What do I have to do with Pop-A-Shot? Well, I’m glad you asked. Pop-A-Shot happens to be one of my very useless skills. And, it’s one of those things that you wouldn’t know by looking at me, kind of like trying to identify a good bowler? But, push comes to shove, and I can kind of, sort of, fill it up.
First, to be clear, the game is called Pop-a-Shot as far as I am concerned. It’s not called Super Shot or Hot Shot or anything like that. It’s called Pop-A-Shot. And, the game is meant to be played in the “classic” style, meaning you shoot two-point shots for a period of time, the basket then moves back for 3’s, and there is some type of bonus period. Anything else is a bastardized version that I do not care to talk about.
I have a long and sneaky history with Pop-A-Shot. Much like a pool hustler with a mysterious past of being weened in a barroom, I laid the groundwork for my skills early. Circumstances of my life dictated that I spent a good number of afternoons in my youth in the arcade section of the vaunted Grand Slam in Frazer, PA. While my father (who hit clean-up for Malvern’s Best HVAC) honed his craft in one of the cages, I was set to run free with a handful of quarters. The two games that were worthwhile in my opinion were John Elway’s Quarterback and Pop-A-Shot. I split my time fairly evenly between the two, but probably favored Pop-A-Shot. I was decent for my limited height, but real superstardom was still a ways away.
What those days a youth got me, though, was my distinctive style. Because I was still a little guy, it was easier for me to score if I tossed up bank shots instead of going for the swish. It allowed me to give a full heave, and I didn’t have to be as accurate. It’s something I’ve stuck with for good, and I see a few main reasons to work the “bank.” The first is, it allows you to be less precise. I don’t have one of these in my basement, so I’ll take any room for error I can get. Also, the balls tend to be a bit on the flat side, which increases your margin for error even more. Lastly, bank shots have way more street cred. I’m not saying you can’t swish your shots, I’m just saying it takes a lot more practice.
I think the most gratifying thing about Pop-A-Shot is the surprise on people’s faces when they see me play. While they are awkwardly jerking up 1/2 jumpers, I am a whirlwind of efficiency, rifling in bank-shot after bank-shot. It’s nice to throttle people, and I like getting stares from strangers, especially people at Dave & Busters who think they are good. There’s nothing like some young fella being all proud with his 58 points and then realizing he finished 2nd to that preppy looking white fella at the end of the line.
So, I guess I’ll stop patting myself on the back at this point. I don’t consider myself to be the best Pop-A-Shot player in the world, or anything like that. Chances are, I’m better than most, but I am a true amateur. I hardly play, don’t have a machine, I’m like Bobby Jones. Just occasionally drop a giant number while going on with the rest of my life. There are pros out there, though. People like the girl in the video, people who work at bars with a machine, these are the people I can’t necessarily compete with. I know someone who knew a guy who played in the NBA and one day I get a text that said, “hey so and so just scored 124 points” at D&Bs.” Is that better than my score? Yeah, but I never said I was in the NBA. There are some limits to my bravado, though I’d always take a shot on an even playing field.
And, really the most important thing to look at when you watch these videos is the number of basketballs in play. Most arcades will give you 5 balls at the most. Sometimes only 4. Four is not enough, and 5 really isn’t enough for me either. Six is the ideal number without getting overcrowded. It looks like our lady friend has at least that many. And, I’m sure she’d beat me like a drum, but I’d put in a showing, do something to make the rest of my amateur brethren proud.