Still in the Game

bballI’m fourteen years old. Tall and wide for my age, I’ve determined I can play basketball with the big boys or in this case with my older brothers. They let me join their weekly game made up primarily of guys anywhere from 19-21. I am the mascot, the youngest, the kid. However, I play hard and with a chip on my shoulder. I don’t back down from contact or a shot.   Eventually, I gain acceptance and am recognized as a good player.

Basketball has always been my favorite sport to play. It started with little league – Bustleton Bengals Boys Club. I was an all-star a couple of times and one of my teams lost in the championship game. Great times, fun times, young times.  Then came the games with my older brothers that were full of camaraderie and competitiveness though they often included a yelling match between my brothers or another player out of frustration.

As the years have added up, I’ve continued to play basketball sporadically including pick-up and leagues. A scrappy player is the way to describe me – never the tallest, strongest, or most athletic; I was full of wanting to win.

When I moved out to New Jersey, some people from my congregation invited me to play basketball with them. There were a range of people aged from teens to upper forties. I held my own and in fact, was often one of the better players.

Fast forward to this year – 2013. After not playing for about a year and a half, a few guys once again showed interest in starting up a regular Sunday game.  Was I interested? Hell yes!! I could not wait to play again. However, I was nervous. I had not played basketball competitively in a year and a half though I had been working out (http://larrydbernstein.com/trying-to-make-it-a-habit/). Also, the old guys had dropped out. The players left were young enough to be my children (I would have had to be a young father but you get my point).

I wasn’t sure playing was smart. Neither was my wife, children, mother, or friends. However, I was not going to let these obstacles or sanity stop me.

Well, we’ve played two sessions so far. After the first week which was only 2 on 2, when I played on 4 hours of sleep and a funny stomach, I was completely wiped. Not quite Willis Reed limping on the court for the Knicks but impressive for a 40 something marginally athletic English teacher. I played decently. Yesterday, or session number two, was three on three. With more sleep and no stomach ailments, I was looking for and expecting improvement. It did not arrive. My play was mediocre at best, and I got frustrated.

I have come full circle. Once the youngest on the court, I am now the oldest. I watch these early twenty-somethings jump, react, and move in a way that I am not capable of at this point. I am a bit jealous and long for my glory days. Instead, I find way to compensate.

Really, it does not matter. I still love to play, the camaraderie, and competition. Now, if I could just remember how to jump, I might be on to something.

P.S. Enjoy some photos from the game courtesy of my photographer – BR.

Old man in the middle - too tired to smile

Old man in the middle – too tired to smile.

 

I am dribbling and in no rush.  Slow it down - my new motto.

I am dribbling and in no rush. Slow it down – my new motto.

I was going to get that rebound.

I was going to get that rebound.

Surveying the court - hmm who to pass to?

Surveying the court – hmm who to pass to?

Look carefully - my feet are actually off the ground - might have been able to do one of those old Toyota commercials.

Look carefully – my feet are actually off the ground – might have been able to do one of those old Toyota commercials.

32 thoughts on “Still in the Game

  1. 🙂 I really like the ‘Slow it down’ my new motto! ha!ha! I’m sure you can still keep up Larry, well from those pictures it seems as if you still can! 🙂

  2. Who says White Men Can’t Jump? LOL. That’s greatness – I’m so glad that you are out there and having fun, it doesn’t matter if you are the best, it matters that you are enjoying it. And of course getting all sweaty and having sore muscles the next day! I played basketball when I was younger up through high school, too & loved it! I couldn’t do it now, though… So I really admire you for living your life to the fullest!!

    • I do still very much enjoy it. It just pisses me off sometimes when I can’t play as well as I think I should be able to. The mind works while the body is a bit less compliant.

      • Hahaha! My mind always works and my body is always less than compliant! But I have fun and that’s what matters to me. And if like to say that you are the only one that expects you to play better than you do, but it would sound wrong!

        • I am the same here in term of mind and body.
          I do expect myself to play better. I tend to be hard on myself, and I have high expectations.

  3. I give you a lot of credit for getting out there! Do you think you’ll be able to regain some skills as you go continue? I’m sure you will, but maybe you need some electric teal sneakers like the guy next to you in the picture. Can’t hurt!

    • Thanks. I do think that if we play every week that I will improve. Unfortunately, I think my ceiling is only so high at this point.
      So, are you saying it’s the shoes money? Remember that commercial?

  4. This is awesome. Way to represent us English teachers. I have noticed that I no longer have the spring, but still enjoy playing. It’s the morning after that I hate.

    • I didn’t realize you were an English teacher as well. Where do you teach? What grade?
      No spring here – at least not consistent. Sometimes instinct took over.
      Thankfully, I was fine the morning after. The bigger challenge was the day itself. I took a shower and just sat around for a few hours. For the first hour or so, the sweat kept reforming. Not a pretty site.

  5. I’ll be waiting for your next post about a broken ankle!!! Just kidding, looks like you are still fit as a fiddle and can keep up with the youngsters! On our trip we kept stopping at Rest Areas and the kids and I would have races in the grassy areas so we could stretch our legs and get some exercise. My kids were lapping me but in my defense I was wearing flip flops….I’m sure it was because of the flip flops!

    • Ouch. Luckily, I have recuperated and I will be ready to suit up again next Sunday. As long as play half-court, I can keep up.
      Yeah sure – blame the flip flops. Does that make you feel better?

  6. I have nothing of value to add to any discussion on sports, except for this: keep playing. It keeps you young in many ways. I also think it’s good to spend some time with young guys.

    The only thing I could conceivably do would be kickball – I played that every day as a kid and really liked it. And there’s actually a league around here. Wish I had time.

    • I am going to follow your advice though at times, it actually makes me feel old.
      Bummer you don’t have a chance to play kickball. Do you get a chance to exercise in general?

      • Occasionally. The campus I work on is very hilly, so once or twice a week I was out jogging/walking the hills right after work. But then summer hit and the last time I did that I got swarmed by yellow flies. I was just talking to my husband yesterday about figuring out a way that I could go to our gym early on the weekends. I can use our campus fitness center for free, and it’s a nice one.

        • Good luck working out a schedule for the gym. I know it is cliché but it does feel good to exercise. I imagine the exercise you are talking about also gives you some space – a great added benefit.

  7. Kind of brings you full circle, doesn’t it?

    I think it’s great that you can still play. Just be careful not to twist your ankle!
    It definitely looks like you guys had a fun game!

    • Good to hear from you. I think I accidentally stopped following your blog. I just started it up again.
      Yes, I have come full circle and definitely had fun playing.
      I sure don’t want to twist my ankle, but I don’t really worry about that sort of thing. I stretch and then hope.

  8. Sounds like a good time. I’m glad you decided to play despite the nay-sayers. Who knows, you may end up being a mentor to one of the younger men.

    • I am glad I am playing too. I have a good relationship with these guys. I think it helps that I am teacher and enjoy younger people.

  9. Excellent! Another GREAT Larry post!! And you are a great sportsman, Larry. I’m sure, you’re brilliant!

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