I remember when I fell in love with playing basketball. It was the summer after 6th grade. A friend of mine that I had known since elementary invited me over to his house to hang out one afternoon. He was a good basketball player going on to play on our state playoff high school team years later. Naturally, he wanted to play some basketball on his driveway hoop. I don’t think I had played much before that day, and it showed. I did good to hit the backboard.
I don’t recall the conversation with my parents after that day, but I know that we had a basketball goal on our driveway shortly after that. I spent hours on that driveway shooting, dribbling and re-enacting last-minute game winning shots.
I have played on different teams over the years, but I think my favorite is playing old-fashioned pick-up basketball.
Some guys I have played with for over 10 years. We know each other’s game inside and out. And, we have watched age catch up with our game as well. I journaled the other day that my game could be better if I was 10 pounds lighter, in better shape and, of course, 15 years younger.
This video—Stereotypes: Pickup Basketball—so describes different guys I play with. I won’t say how many I identify with.
A couple of funny stories…
One day I was playing against a high school guy whose father was coaching him from the stands. The young man’s father kept shouting instructions and what I guess was encouragement. But when the father, who probably was 10 years younger than me, yelled, “take him to the rim, he is a 40 year-old man!” After successfully defending the man’s son, I ran back down the court yelling, ” I am not 40! I am 50!”
I was a small kid growing up. I was 5’8″, 135lb guy when I graduated from high school. Not that I am a big guy now, 5’11”, 195lb, but when I am on the basketball court, I still see myself as that much smaller kid which results in me having spacial issues.
The other day I knocked a guy down going for a rebound. I had no idea that I hit him that hard. Later in the game two other guys had a collision. When one called a foul, he said, “You ‘Kennyied’ me!”
Yes, my game is slower (and lower) and I constantly have aches and pains, but I have my reasons for why I keep playing.
- I love the game. I enjoy playing team sports, but basketball is my favorite. I enjoy watching the sport too—from high school to pros.
- I want to stay physically active. Until I can’t run and jump anymore, I am sure I will keep playing basketball as a way to stay in shape. It keeps my weight in check, my heart rate down, helps me stay somewhat flexible. I joke that when I can’t play basketball anymore, I will take up golf.
- I enjoy the friendships. It’s a camaraderie thing. Even though we play just for fun, or maybe because it is only for fun, part of the joy is playing with guys that become friends. Even if we exchange heated words in the spirit of competition, we usually leave laughing looking forward to the next time.
- All it takes is one good shot to bring me back. Golf players understand this mentality. I can miss every shot I take, make a ton of turn-overs, play terrible defense, but if I can leave with making at least one good shot, that’s more than enough to bring me back to play again.