Thursday, June 13, 2013

The (friend) Zone Defense
By Tyler Abbott
                  In the enthralling world of pickup basketball, there are a number of unspoken laws as old as time itself. There’s always going to be that “guy” who tries much harder than necessary and who will without fail, foul at every opportunity given. There’s always going to be the other “guy” who is convinced there are NBA scouts hiding somewhere in the dark corners of the gym, and this is their opportunity to shoot literally every time and show their potential. Everybody loves the” guy” who makes the extra pass. The “guy” in the goggles is an enigma; the “guy” with the headband is more than likely a schmutz. The black “guy” is always picked first. And perhaps the oldest law of all: man defense is ALWAYS better than zone defense. It just is. Not surprisingly, this simple hoops observation applies directly to the other hardwood floor known as Provo dating.
                  It’s nearly impossible to go an entire week in Provo, Utah without hearing a tragic tale about someone being “friend zoned.” And I must confess, I too have been on the receiving end of the friend zone cannon. Imagine you’re the captain of the ship. You’ve got your map, you got your crew backing you up, and you’ve got your eyes fixed on the infamous treasure that is surely calling your name. You end up getting to the precise “X” where the treasure was placed, only to find that the shovel you brought won’t really be of much use considering the treasure is protected by layers of reinforced metal. What you really needed was some dynamite. Only problem is you don’t have any dynamite. So what do you do? Stick around the “X” and wait for some dynamite to fall out of the sky? Or do you just up and leave and embark for some new adventure? Welcome to the grand friend zone dilemma. You have your eyes sight on this girl (or boy), you do everything possible to call them your own, but at the end of the day you just don’t have what they’re looking for. You brought a shovel, when what they really needed was some dynamite.
                  Alright, I don’t mean for this to be all gloom and doom. In fact I’ll let you in on a little secret: I broke the friend zone. I did it. I’m the kind of guy who wears garage sale t-shirts from the 1980’s, started my freshman year of college at BYU’s red headed little step brother Salt Lake Center, and  tries to apply almost everything to the NBA. Long story short, if I can do it, so can you. Have you ever wondered why zone defense is so rarely used in pickup ball? It’s because there are so many holes and ways to get to the basket. Zone defense falls apart when you make the right passes, and take the right shots. It’s something similar with the friend zone. It’s very much so breakable.
So this is my story about a girl named Dani Ruiz. I met this girl and we hit it off better than I can remember hitting it off with anybody. Our ward quickly picked up on our chemistry, and the rumors started a flowin’. At this point in time, both Dani and I were playing zone defense. We both expected nothing but a solid friendship, maybe even be each other’s wingmen. I remember her telling me once, “are we going to have a problem with this?” referring to the fact that people were already assuming we’d be dating in no time. Like a dysfunctional YMCA rec team playing zone defense, I reassured her there wouldn’t be a problem. Turns out what I was basically doing was opting to pick Darko Milicic or Sam Bowie (the single life) instead of going after Lebron James or Michael Jordan (Dani Ruiz). Within a couple of days I realized that this was no ordinary girl, she was incredible! She had touch around the basket (amazing sense of humor), makes the extra pass (unselfish and loving), a killer jump shot (super, super cute), all the talents of a 2007 Lebron James, or a 1986 Magic Johnson. (I’d make a Kobe Bryant reference, but she’d hate that because of his uh, poor social decisions.) And I was playing zone defense against it. I had no chance. I quickly started playing man defense doing everything I could to get her to laugh (maybe even snort a little), think I was interesting, and basically seem like a team that she could potentially sign a long term contract with. I was the 2010 Heat, and I was looking to fill my cap space. After about a month of presenting my case, trying to differentiate myself from all the other New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets who had similar intentions of a long term deal, the unthinkable happened. She signed with my team, and it’s been glorious ever since. She definitely didn’t consider the Heat (me) at the beginning of her free agency, but over time I managed to create a pretty ideal situation for her. So yeah, it’s possible. Here are my Collin’s Keys to that process:
·       Patience is key
·       Love the small victories when you can get them. A laugh here, playful touch there, good conversations
·       Don’t be complacent, be her BEST friend. Make sure she trusts you
·       Don’t think about the competition, just think about what you’re bringing to the table
·       Try to be at the right place, at the right time – and then know what to sort of say
·       Stay positive, it’s a working progress, and it’s definitely do-able.
 There you have it Danidownsideup fans. Your shovel can become dynamite. You can fix Darko Milicic sized kind of mistakes, and sign big agents regardless of your market size. It’s tried and true. And it’s worth it. Couldn’t have said it better without the………….myself.


  1. OH, I wish a man would write an essay-ish thing about me. This is so cute. I am feeling all girly and stuff. Good for him for being patient and snatching you right up :) I am so glad that you are dating someone who wanted you enough to WORK to get you. As a past One who has been in the friend zone..?? myself, I applaud his patience. You know my story about me being in the friend zone. I am glad that his story has come to a happy end with you and him being together :) Love you, Dani!

    1. are the ultimate friend. The truest of true. Thank you for the happiness it is deeply appreciated.


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