I Played Basketball For The First Time In Six Years The Other Day. I’ll Probably Never Do That Again. Ball Is Not Life.
As is customary when a new family member is welcomed into the world, other and older family members descend upon your domicile to offer congratulations, salutations, and help. For the parents of newborns, its often the best time since you usually have more help than you know what to do with and the fear of having to fend for yourself with a baby gets deferred for a few weeks. Eventually though, everybody goes back to their own lives and you’ve got to do the Lord’s work of raising your offspring.
Family still descends upon your domicile infrequently to offer assistance and support. And this is a good thing.
Such was my life last week when the Lady Of The House’s mother and two younger brothers made a fairly common trek to our home for said assistance and support. The two brothers are 14 and 12. The 12 year old is a basketballer in the making of the “Ball is life” variety. On a prior trip, I’d mentioned that when they came back at some point we could go to the courts to play ball. Now, I know when I said it that I truly meant it. I just don’t think I realized what it meant in reality when I had to actually go outside, pick up a basketball, and shoot it.
Let’s backtrack a bit.
In my younger days, I was an athlete. In some form or the other at various points in life I played organized basketball, soccer, football, ran track (800, 1500, 3000 and one horrible showing as the anchor on the sprint medley), and ran cross country. Cross Country was my particular specialty and the sport where I excelled and enjoyed most. What can I say, I like scenery when I run. Point there is that conditioning was never really my problem. I played sports for which conditioning was part of the process. In soccer? You run. My practices for cross country were regular 5-mile races.
In college, I played pickup ball with my boys on occasion at Run and Shoot and did the same after graduating and moving to DC. It was nothing to get a call from one of my boys saying let’s go get some run at any number of various courts in the area. That all ended sometime and I don’t know when. I remember sporadically picking up a ball and shooting around at various points in life but to tell the truth, I can’t for the life of me remember the last time I actually played basketball in a competitive manner where two teams ran up and down a court. I’m saying its been at least six years, but the truth is, it’s probably longer.
I know that I haven’t played basketball AT LEAST in the four years in which I’ve owned my home. Hell, I didn’t even own a ball until I moved into my house, which means that for the two years before that I definitely wasn’t playing unless somebody called me and I don’t remember that happening much. The most I remember is standing outside of my parents house and shooting around a bit many years ago -2013 – and that doesn’t count because I had on Timberland boots.
Which brings us back to last week. First off, I realized I didn’t even have a pair of shoes to play ball in. I actually had to pull out my Jordan 10 retro Breds which hurt my soul a bit. But they were the only playable basketball shoes I own. It’s not 1954 so I wasn’t about to risk my ankles lacing up my hightop Chuck’s. Alas, I put on my shoes and off we went to the court where I did the only thing one does when they haven’t played ball in a long time and is re-entering the wonderful world of non-professional basketball:
I airballed the shit out of my first shot.
It was glorious, let me tell you. I figured it was going to happen. I airballed quite a few shots out there. But I was just shooting around while the brothers quickly and easily dismantled two other kids their age who came out to play. Again, the 12-year-old is a baller with a sweet left-handed shot. At one point, we decided to play one on one just for kicks since it was hot and we hadn’t quite learned the “you’re not being paid for this and its 90 degrees outside” lesson. For a brief 10 minutes, I busted cross-overs and finger-rolls and hit a few shots, but my entire soul ached. My breathing sucked. I was sore the next day. I realized, quickly and without regret, that I don’t care if I never play basketball again.
This was a new position for me in life since I loved playing basketball immensely in my youth. My driveway wasn’t quite legendary, but it was never a surprised to see upwards of 15 folks over my house (outside, anyway) playing ball in my driveway. There are definitely legendary stories from my driveway. It is significantly less famous, but trust me when I say the original “The Block” happened in my driveway with the blocker being regaled for weeks on end in school and the blockee never quite recovering. And there was “The Crossover”. Point is, moments happened there. It was one of the few times where somebody called another person a “jerk” attempting to hurt his feelings and it ended a basketball game because so many of us were laughing too hard to continue playing. I had that driveway down pat. I could hit from the corners and the from the middle of the street. I was often told, randomly, that I walked like I played ball. If only these people could see me now.
Also, to keep it 1-hundy, I was never that good though I could play. I could shoot well, but I wasn’t going to be your starting point guard at any point of my life. But this isn’t about the glory days, this is about today and the rest of my life where I discovered that I really don’t care if I never shoot a basketball again. I don’t long for running a game and I honestly don’t care if I ever step foot on a court again in shorts and basketball shoes.
My game has gone to glory and ball isn’t really life for me.
One minor caveat: I do have two boys, so there’s a better than 100 percent chance that I’ll be on a basketball court in a few years when they decide they want to play and I have to teach fundamentals, etc. So my heart ain’t in it, but I’m sure I’ll find it for the kids. And if my daughter decides she wants to play, well then sign me up for that too.
I guess the point is, I’m not going to want to, but I will for the legacy. But running and up and down a court? Nawl.
I’ll just stay at home and watch NBA Classics the way God intended.