“Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. ”

– Steven Spielberg

Last Saturday, I moved while my forever home is being finished.

I packed a few personal things I'll need for the next few weeks into the Jeep and took one last walk on Saturday late afternoon in Soho, a neighborhood I've called home off and on for fifteen years and soaked up the vibes. Passing the revelers at Raoul’s and the sneakerheads waiting for the latest Stussy drop, I thought about my business that's growing, but still no business partner. Walking north to Greenwich Village where Comedy Cellar promoters hang outside smiling and waving you in, I composed a text in my mind that I needed to write to my Mom who I wouldn’t be able to see for Mother’s Day. That was breaking my heart a little.

Guy walking by comedy cellar in new york city

A few minutes later, I’m standing in front of The Cage.

If you love basketball or New York City, you know about The Cage. The Cage is a storied pickup court on West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue where many a legends have come and gone since the 1960’s thanks to Kenny Graham who once played pick up there and created his West 4th Pro Classic League in the 1980’s: Stephon Marbury, Jayson Williams, Rod Strickland, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Steph Curry, Dwight Howard, and…

…Alona Elkayam?

I discovered basketball when I was in high school where I played small forward for the Junior Varsity and Varsity Pikesville Panthers in Baltimore. I wasn’t a star player, but like all who live for the game, I got addicted to the fire it ignites in my belly. Even today, when the orange orb is in my hand, everything is ok.

Since high school, I’ve had a basketball in every closet in every house and apartment I’ve ever lived in (22 total), from Paris to New York. The paint, the rectangle inside the court from the baseline to the free-throw line, is my “third place.” I’d play pick up on most Sundays on every court from Battery Park to the Upper East Side. While ‘football is life’ for Dani on Ted Lasso, for me, ‘basketball is life.’   

Alona elkayam playing basketball on West 4th street Far From Timid

On May 13th of 2023, I entered The Cage for the first time wearing my Free People jeans, Alexander Wang studded basketball shoes, and Foley and Corinne cashmere halter top and sat down on the cement ledge as if I came here every day. A shouting match broke out about a questionable foul that I felt was taking a little too long. There is a point when you have to put your feelings aside and respect the game. I stood up and said, “Keep it moving.” 

The game was almost over and one of the guys bailed. Possessed by some strange force that was invested in my bucket list, I stood up, took command of the ball and started playing. A few plays up and down the court, someone passed me the ball. I shot near the free throw line and then I went deaf.

The ball went in. We won the game.

On the walk back to the car,  I called my mom. Told her I couldn’t make it to Mother’s Day. I still don’t have a business partner, but the whispers I heard in the paint on West Fourth Street tell me I’m going in the right direction.

As long as I stay in the game. 

If you can’t make it to The Cage, you can play on the EA Sports video game, NBA Street V3.