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.