Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hoop diaries

As I was leaving the building after work three coworkers were shooting baskets on this hoop just outside the employee entrance. I wished them all a good night and was preparing to gleefully head for home when one one of them asks:

Want to shoot around with us?

Shoot around? I think to myself that I haven't shot a basketball since, well, my brain isn't quick enough to figure out the math in time to give some sort of appropriate response. And I find myself pulled on to the makeshift basketball court with three guys who shoot hoops on a fairly regular basis, and one of whom is like 6-feet-14 or something.

Needless to say, I was apprehensive and feeling selfconscious. So I'm thinking I'll watch for a while and just chat. Before that thought can even be fully formed in my brain, a leather Wilson Jet basketball comes flying my direction.


So I shoot, displaying the form of some dorky, short, non-athletic, um, dork. And I miss.

Do my companions take pity on my pitifulness?


Instead they throw the ball to me again. So I shoot again and prepare for even worse humiliation. But something amazing happens. The ball goes in.

Nothing but net, baby.

And no one on the planet is more stunned than me.

So I spent the next 20 minutes or so shooting hoops with the guys, and I actually end up sinking several more shots. Surprising myself each and every time the ball swished, clanged, rattled or banked through the hoop.

It felt good.

Not so good that I'm going to go sign up for a 3-on-3 league or anything, but good enough that I wasn't completely humiliated, especially even given the fact that I was wearing slacks, dress socks and work shoes at the time, with my car keys jangling in my pocket.

I still don't really recall when the last time I shot a ball at a basket was. Whenever it was, it was probably at one of those machines they have in bars, where you shoot the miniature balls at a miniature hoop. Beyond that, it was years -- maybe even decades -- since I had so much as played h-o-r-s-e on anything approaching a regulation hoop.

Of course I did play basketball in high school. JV and varsity. Even went to basketball camp in the summer. I think I played three of my four years in school, and have the messed-up knees to prove it (I lost the letter with the basketballs on it somewhere in one of my many moves).

But before anyone gets the urge to be at all impressed by that, let me just say I went to a small school. A very small school. If you went out for the team, you made the team. I rarely played in an actual game. I may have scored in one game -- one point, I think, but I'm not really sure. I mostly sat on the bench, and ran lots of wind sprints in practice in some insane test of character that only served to prove I was short, slow and possessed no athletic skills, in spite of shooting a million baskets on the hoop I pestered my dad to hang up in his shop. I had the best indoor court in the area, but I had no game. And that was, as sad as it is to admit, more than 20 years ago.

But tonight, after work. I shot hoops with the guys. And I didn't suck nearly as badly as I should have.

It was a good thing.

1 comment:

Brat said...

Sounds like something you enjoyed. Perhaps you need to do that more often. Shooting around with the guys is a good way of blowing off steam. What I want to know, were you shirts or skins?

So has it realy been 20 years? I throw around the ball with some of my students from time to time. What it has taught me, is that basketball was never my sport. I suck! Now give me a softball and I will kick some ass.

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