Featured, Sports, Theory & Essay

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.

BUT.

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.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Kas

    Everyone must be at the Cav’s parade.

    • Brandon Allen

      JR Smith has not worn a shirt for 3 days.

      • That Ciroc is NOT a game! Heck, I’m glad for the dude. When you’re spent your career as a head case who gets dumb techs and had your first national fame being losing a dunk contest to a girl, being a rotation player on a NBA champion must feel nice.

      • Other_guy13

        He won’t for at least a month. No need too. We just lucky he has on pants at this point.

        • Jennifer

          Even he went sans pants, what Cleveland po-po is gonna pop him for that?! This week of all weeks?!

      • My man JR went from one of the most emotional press conferences to pouring champagne on a bish in 6 hours flat.

        • brothaskeeper

          That must be some kind of record.

        • Yo my dad was like… You just sat up and cried like baby and now this ninja aint got no clothes on…. NINJAS You can take a ninja out the hood, but not the hood out the ninja

          • Jennifer

            You can love your mama and daddy and still be savage. The two are not mutually exclusive.

            • Oh I know that, far too well.

          • Other_guy13

            Let that man be great. If he wanna expose his soul and his chest in the same week its his prerogative. https://usatftw.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/jrjrjrjrjrjrjrjrj.gif?w=1000

            • Imma let him be great…But, i wanna be like his daughter this time next year and say “Im glad he made it to the championship again, without getting kicked off the team.
              https://twitter.com/KennyDucey/status/743586997273501696

              • Other_guy13

                Kids be telling the TRUTH!

              • Jennifer

                Wow! Baby shade.

                • Val

                  That’s more than shade. That was a gut punch. Ouch.

                  • Jennifer

                    Yeah. When your adorable daughter knows you were trifling, woosah…

          • eyecande

            How hood is Freehold Borough, NJ tho? Bruce Springsteen is from there. JR is so interesting lol

            • Freehold, and the Jersey Shore in general, is low key hood as f*ck. A lot of Black people moved there during the resort heyday for the jobs, and were stuck there once the hotels fell off. As a result, it’s not hood in the sense of people getting shot, but it is ghetto as ghetto can be.

              • eyecande

                Ah. Ok. Well JR gives me that shots fired hood aesthetic.

      • Kas

        They may have to make a special rule that allows him to just paint his number on his body for next season.

  • Charles Johnson

    I can’t ball anymore, it makes my chest burn. and it’s hard playing at sea level y’all.

  • Someday it happens to all of us. I remember witnessing that a few years ago playing the alumni-student game at my high school’s 15 year reunion. Thanks to my workout obsession, I managed to keep in good shape with running and bodyweight exercises. My former teammates…didn’t. While I was a reasonable facsimile of my high school self in terms of conditioning (if not actual game feel), my classmates were struggling and striving after 15 minutes. Eventually, you either have to give up the ghost or work out like a demon to keep up on the court. Most people are well adjusted to knock off the crazy workouts after a certain point because food is delicious. As for me, while I enjoy my indulgences, my conditioning is useful for a variety of purposes. :)

    Also, sidebar on the new baby thing. Is it just me, or is the hardest part of having a baby the period immediately AFTER the relatives peel away. Initially, you could lean on them while you figure out the new routine, but then, it gets really real, and you’re think sh*t, d*mn, m0therf*cker for like three weeks until you hit a rhythm.

    • All my old crew is GARBAGE on the court. Them fools aren’t even that old.

    • Conrad Bess

      100 on the baby thing. I got twins, and if not for my mother and sister on Sundays, I’d probably be bawling and crapping my pants like my girls do now.

  • Other_guy13

    PJ…If anybody out there feel ya…I FEEL YA.

    • Val

      Baseball batting cages look fun. I want to try that. And it looks like a good stress reliever too.

      • Other_guy13

        Proceed with caution. Learn from my mistakes and take baby steps. I did a cage that’s meant for people to actually train the sport and not the ones you see at an amusement park. Lesson learned…its a good date activity right along with bowling and putt putt golf (is that still a thing?)

        • Val

          Okay, thanks for the warning. I didn’t know there were levels to the batting cages. As for putt putt golf; me no know. Prolly though.

          • Other_guy13

            I see a lot that got shut down. I would still go to this day but they not tryna let me live.

        • How high did you go?

          • Other_guy13

            80mph

            • That’s minor leagues. Very respectable.

              • Other_guy13

                Again…its been years…and more like high-school but yea…It was ugly

            • Brother Mouzone

              I tried that 90mph life about 2 years ago because, well..ego. I walked away from that cage thinking Barry Bonds must be a cyborg.

              • Other_guy13

                It’s not for the faint of heart.

        • AnswerMe

          It is still a thing. Though driving is also now a worthy golf date. Good ol Top golf.

          • Other_guy13

            What you know about Top Golf?

            • AnswerMe

              I know they have great drinks, decent food, and it’s pretty entertaining depending on the company you’re keeping.

              • Other_guy13

                I live for that place. I think I may go this weekend. The atmosphere is A1 and its just a darn good time. But it does depend on the people with you and the people in the surrounding bays. I love seeing people on a first date there and its my crew acting a fool. When the date not going well *evil laugh*…nevermind.

                • AnswerMe

                  So you’re that kind of guy. I’m not surprised lol. Jk but not really. Yeah it’s a lot of fun when your folks around you are enjoying themselves.

                  • Other_guy13

                    Depends on how many drinks I have had. I don’t do it directly. But there have been times when eye contact is made and conversations are had (restroom breaks are real).. I try to be respectful but some women are bold. Case in point. I was at the bar with my homegirl and a woman was on a date with some guy. The homie and I are having a swell time and she is bored. So she eyes me down and even shoots a wave on the sly. Thy when she leave says “okay see you at work” I WAS FLOORED

          • Val

            They are building a whole resort around a driving range not too far from me. I had no idea just hitting a golf ball on a driving range was popular enough to create a resort?

            • AnswerMe

              Unless you’re an intense golf fan I think it comes down to who you’re with. Surprisingly I had a lot of fun when my company held our summer event there.

        • Blueberry01

          Absolutely! My putt-putt game is mean and having a little competition on a date is fun. Y’all dudes be acting like it’s all fun and games, but it gets real serious when y’all start losing. Lol…

      • Sigma_Since 93

        They are fun until you miss the ball and look like Kyle from Living Single

  • As long as these knees and ankles don’t fail me, i will forever ball. When my body does give out (again) I will just have to settle for killing folks on NBA2k.

    • Other_guy13

      Nah bruh…not tryna walk around here like Phil Jackson,

      • I don’t even care. I’ll be that dude in a hover round at Walmart if means I move like this when I hit 40.

        • Other_guy13

          Bruh!!!

    • Mortal Man

      Need to work on your squats then if you want to ball till your golden years.

      • Kas

        If only that where true. Tendinitis is real in these streets.

  • brothaskeeper

    *humming* “back in the days when I was young I’m not a kid anymore but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again”…..this year at our faculty/staff b-ball tourney, I came to the same realization. Kids were flying, dishing, euro-stepping (couldn’t make a shot to save their lives, though, but still). I was relegated to 18-footers, and on defense, I couldn’t guard a crawling baby. S/O to cross country runners, though. I did 1600m, 3200m, and cross country.

    • The last real game I played was at a police/community event. Apparently I really enjoy demoralizing police officers. Who knew? It brought back all of my fire.

      • brothaskeeper

        I can still dish, so I’m gonna ride that skill till the wheels fall off.

        • I’m a firm believer of “get in where you fit in.”

      • Other_guy13

        “Apparently I really enjoy demoralizing police officers. Who knew?” https://media.giphy.com/media/c8UN4zmGZe5s4/giphy.gif

      • Jennifer

        “Who knew? It brought back all of my fire.”

        ^Real talk. The trick is to find some people who are older and less mobile than you. It also works in dance class, aerobics, and other athletic and fitness pursuits. Or, so I’ve heard.

        • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

          and roller coasters….LOL

        • Val

          *Best advice of the day*

        • Sigma_Since 93

          “The trick is to find some people who are older and less mobile than you”

          It doesn’t always work that way in basketball. Old dudes have perfected the Steph Curry shot. Trading 3’s for 2’s will get you run off the court.

          • And they play DIRTY.

            • Jennifer

              Shivs?!

              • Val

                Shivs? That made me think of OITNB. I watched the last episode of the new season last night. I was crying my eyes out.

                • Jennifer

                  Oh no! I’m only on Episode 6. I know something is coming cuz my ain’t s h i t friends are posting vague spoilers on FB. Didn’t have time to binge over the weekend like I traditionally do.

                  Funny how I feel anxiety having not watched an entire season of television that’s only been out for 5 days. Netflix wins!

                  • Val

                    *shuts mouth*

                    We’ll talk after you finish watching.

              • Old man elbows are just as lethal.

    • Val

      1600m? 3200m? Where do they run those distances?

      • Maybe to the liquor store.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        four laps = 1600
        eight laps = 3200

        • Val

          How long ago was this that it was the 1600 and 3200? Four laps is the 1500m and there’s the 3000m race.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            the 400 is one lap so. The will move the start line for the 1500 when it’s run

            ..

            • Val

              Man, Sig, you are confusing me because I just realized you and BK are talking about yards instead of metres. Lol

              • brothaskeeper

                In any case, I ran track for 1.) a letter in a sport 2.) to catch the eye of the lay-teez, and 3.) to maintain my stamina for marching band. #2 was a failure because girls came to watch the sprinters and the high jumpers, neither of which was I.

                • Val

                  Marching band? Did you go to an HBCU?

                  • brothaskeeper

                    Naw, I went to a PWI. That’s one thing I regret doing, but I made the most of it. I know that if I went to an HBCU, I would’ve received a more enriching and intimate level of education.

                    • Betty’s Babygirl

                      It’s all good. You’re now in a community that provides the “enriching and intimate” education…..VSB! It’s a safe place to learn and teach. We fam ’round here. There are NO COINCIDENCES.

                  • Mr. Mooggyy

                    Marching Band is a sport! *FACTS*

                    • Val

                      Lol Okay.

  • OG Mermaid

    I came to this conclusion a couple of summers ago, albeit it may not have been my old age catching up (I’m still in denial). I coach a kids track and field summer league team and sometimes at certain invitationals they have a parents and coaches 4×2 relay. To say, I almost died is an understatement. It was hot, hot, like no breeze hot, one of the other coaches had just snuck me a shot of Hennessy (don’t judge me or do) because I was salty at one of my girls being cheated out of an event she clearly won (channeling my inner Ayesha Curry before I even knew it), long story short, after I ran I felt like I had just donated both lungs to the Lakeland Regional Invitational. Moral of Story: Don’t drink Hennessy and try to run a race that you haven’t ran in over 15 years. I’m a distance runner anyway so I knew better #ShoulderShrugs

    • Val

      I love track and field! I think it’s great you coach the little ones.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the glory days or I see something track and field related. I’ve just gotten to a point where my eyes don’t sweat watching my event.

        • Val

          Well, I didn’t have any actual glory days beside winning a few 200m races back in my CYO days. Lol

          • Sigma_Since 93

            The clippings and plaques make it hard. I will not be Uncle Rico.

      • OG Mermaid

        I love it too; I ran track and cross country in high school, and coaching is my way of staying connected to a sport that gave me so much life. I still run/jog today for fun, just w/o the drank, lol

        • Val

          I’m in a track and field group on fb. It’s a fun way to keep up with the sport and no training required. :-)

          • SPG

            Obsessed with track and fuel here. I watch it religiously, even in non Olympic years. I can always tell you about the up and comers.

    • BmoreLikeLA

      My boyfriend, much more fit than me, once told me that he had been for a run or two after drinking and that it wasn’t that bad. One Saturday, after a few hours of at home day drinking (we’re working on ourselves), I brought it up and we went out. That was the worse idea ever. The worse gawddam idea ever. I limped/cried back home, having only made it less than a half mile away. And didn’t leave the house until Monday morning. Liquor and fitness naturally don’t go together and no one should ever try to fight nature and make it happen

  • Mortal Man

    It’s like the opposite for me. I was geeky and reedy and not athletic all my younger years. I only got into fitness after college and now currently work out in some way or form everyday.

    Most people don’t know how to program workouts and thus never see long lasting change from their regimes.

  • Ess Tee

    You learned the lesson that Kobe (eventually) learned: being on the other side of 30s will eventually humble your body.

    • Other_guy13

      Just had to bring up Kobe huh

      • Ess Tee

        Ha! Perfect example, non?

    • Conrad Bess

      Father Time is undefeated indeed.

  • Panama the athlete? Never expected that

    • Other_guy13

      You trying to get blocked today Ricky?

      • Nope. Guys who were prolific athletes like Panama was NEVER stop talking about no matter how many years pass. Like do you think a single day goes by when Damon doesn’t think about basketball? Like AP talks about track and cheerleading all the time even though she did those 10 years ago. Never really heard Panama say much about sports.

        • Other_guy13

          He talks about basketball…I think

        • eyecande

          Methinks Panama was involved in sports mostly for the people (like literally; just another way to be social).

          • Other_guy13

            Agreed

          • Sounds accurate

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