Ballerstan - How Sport Makes Borders Irrelevant

At 49, Matthew Alex has never played a second of professional basketball.

Yet here he is, running the court, grabbing rebounds, and making crisp passes to the sharp shooters on his team, the Untouchables. He has lost the spring in his step that once made him a deceptively difficult player to guard. So he chooses to defer to the younger, sharper stars who will fill up the score sheet for his team. It’s the semi-final game against Pak Attack; there are jokes, near scuffles, a few bodies banging on the floor, and friendly pats on the back. Alex is up on the bench, waving his arms, clapping his hands, barking instructions, and showering support.

The Untouchables are one of Chicago’s most-respected Indian teams, and the Pak Attack, comprising a roster of Pakistani and Indian-origin players, have been their rivals for decades. Both teams boast a strong core of lifelong friends who have been playing together, and battling each other since the early 90's. Even though these core players have gotten older, they continue to compete with the same fervour in the newly introduced 35-and-over category.

Inevitably, this rivalry comes down to the wire and goes into overtime.

About the Writer

Karan Madhok is a writer and founder of the Indian basketball blog HOOPISTANI. He has been a regular contributor for NBA India, SLAM Magazine, The Times of India, Scroll, the Basketball Federation of India, Ekalavyas, and more. He loves Butter Chicken.@Hoopistani