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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More random thoughts...basketball

Basketball is almost the perfect game. Compared to other big time sports, basketball is a terrific blend of team play and individual talent. The team that plays together the best usually wins, but an individual can dominate within the team. Football is much more of a team sport. No individual can dominate a football game without a LOT of help from his team mates. Baseball in almost all individualism--each play hinges upon individual effort, and a pitcher can dominate a game almost completely. Soccer is a great team sport where the individual can shine, but soccer doesn't utilize the whole body like basketball. Hockey...well, hockey is too specialized, in that you need ice to play it!

I never played organized basketball other than a few adult three on three tournaments. I was too short, and too unsure of myself, to make my junior high team, and just never tried again. But I've played basketball all my life in pick-up games. I had a goal set up at home when I was a kid and spent untold hours shooting, mostly by myself, on that goal. When I was attending the local junior college, I skipped class all the time to play pick-up games in the gym. I roomed with two other guys when I went away to college, and we were always going to the park or the rec center looking for a game. After I started teaching I'd stay after school to shoot around and play with the students in the gym, and I'd go into the local park to play whenever the weather wasn't too bad.

Once I started doing artwork for a living, I sought out local guys who wanted to play nights, reserved a gym, and began to play one or two nights a week. When I was about 40 years old, I got together with a bunch of guys, all but one of us over 40, to play two nights a week in a small local gym. The only under-40 guy was the law partner of one of the founding members of our little group, so we made an exception for him. That was 17 years ago, and I'm still playing in that group, but the cast of characters has changed. Over the years, we probably had at least 35 or 40 different guys playing with us at different times, but many moved away, some were injured, and others just decided they were too old. As the original group aged, we kept recruiting younger guys to play with us, but it seems it's pretty difficult to find anybody over 40 who wants to play anymore, so we've been allowing younger and younger players over the years.

Now, there are only two of the original group left. I'm well over 57 years old now, and the Karl is pushing 60. Some of the others playing with us these days are well under 40, and we have a few semi-regulars that are teenagers or young adults. It makes the game challenging, to say the least.

Over the years I've been fortunate to not have suffered many basketball injuries. I've torn tendons in the soles of my feet, I've strained knees and ankles, jammed a wrist, and now my biggest problem is a chronically sore shoulder, apparently a rotator cuff disorder. It hurts a bit to shoot three pointers, which really sucks because that's a big part of my game these days. I used to be one of the quickest players in our group--I had to be because I'm still only 5' 8". Now, I can still beat some of the older players off the dribble, but mostly I sit outside and shoot threes.

Who knows how much longer I'll be able to play. But I still love the game, and the exercise gets ever more important. I'll play as long as I can get up and down the court without totally embarrassing myself, I guess.

I've often said that one of my biggest regrets in life is that I wasn't 6' 4". Which, in a way, is the only flaw in the game of basketball--on higher levels it's a game for tall people.

1 comment:

  1. As a female who loves basketball, I can empathize with you regarding the height issue. I'm only 5', and wanted to play with our high school girls team so badly. But, of course, could not make the team. Bummer! My first love is football, but of course, until recent years, women just didn't play football ... in school or otherwise. Now I'm just too darned old, and with too much arthritis. Oh well, such is life. Guess we were both suppose to do other things. I think it's great that you got a group of guys together to play. Everyone needs that kind of interaction with others. The more I read about you, the more in awe I am of you!

    Windsor Mill, MD