If you are a basketball fan with a television you probably know about Ricardo the busboy, who has humiliated one NBA star after another on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The game is Pop-a-Shot, or a variation thereof, the basket-shooting game you find in bars and video arcades, and Ricardo is really stinking good at it.
Ballard, I can attest as someone who has looked foolish trying to guard at him in media pickup games (and now just rigs the teams to be on his) is no slouch as a shooter himself. What's more, Ballard owns a Pop-a-Shot machine, and has been practicing like crazy.
The Sports Illustrated writer decided to seek out the legendary busboy, and challenged him to a series of duels. Ballard writes:
He told me he is not a fan of the NBA, was not particularly thrilled to meet the players ("People say you meet Kobe, you meet LeBron, but to me is just another job") and cannot really explain his skill beyond saying, "right now, Pop-A-Shot is my power." (He has never played much real basketball, though he used to be good at soccer.) His has been a blue-collar life; he moved to California from Mexico City 20 years ago, raised three children and works five shifts a week at Barney's.
When he began playing 10 years ago, Reyes did so only because he needed to do something on his breaks and didn't much like pool. At first his scores were in the 300s, then the 400s. Night after night, once the bar closed, he took his hard-earned tips and fed them into the machine. When he came home, his wife couldn't believe it. "Why are you losing all your money in that machine?" she'd ask. He didn't have an answer she'd understand, but the truth was, it made him feel good. He loved refining his game, aiming for new standards. He loved feeling unbeatable. And he loved the perfect simplicity of the game, how he controlled all the variables. Of course, when Kimmel presented him with that Mustang, he finally had a suitable answer for his wife. "When she see my car, I say, OK, there is the money." He gives a shy smile. "And she's happy now." ...
Consider for a moment: How many amateur tennis players get to try to take a game off Rafael Nadal? How many golfers have the opportunity to go one-one-one against Tiger Woods? Well, all you need to do to test yourself against arguably the best Pop-A-Shot player in the world is show up at Barney's Beanery in Hollywood with a couple bucks in your pocket, preferably in quarters.
You'll have to read the whole thing to find out what happened. And it's well worth a read ... rich with details about the greats of Pop-a-Shot's past, including this freakish link of a world record in progress.