Coming out of retirement
My ankles hurt. My feet hurt. My arms hurt. My back hurts. My head really hurts. Man, I love the game of basketball.
I came out of retirement Wednesday night. I hadn’t played hoops in at least five years, and maybe it was longer. Since I played real basketball, and not just some outdoor lunch games, it’s probably been 8-10 years.
But the guys in the office finally coaxed me out. I sat down on the bleachers at Southwestern Christian University and started analyzing just what I had gotten myself into. Darnell Mayberry’s cousin came; I didn’t know how old Steffon was. I asked. He’s 29. I knew everybody else’s age. Nobody was over 30. Nobody except me.
Basketball once was a game I played every day of my life. That’s when gas was 60 cents a gallon. Even into my 30s, I was playing once a week with some pals, most in their 30s and 40s. When a 20something showed up, we pulled rank and told him how he had to play, and if he dared exert too much energy, we stuffed him in a trash can and kept playing our way.
But this was a bizarro world. I was the outsider. I was the 47-year-old who was bringing different ways to the court. I was the guy who arrived with two goals. Go home with my teeth intact and go home with my heart still working properly.
Mission accomplished. But that 35-minute drive home seemed longer than the Kansas Turnpike.
We played about two hours of fullcourt, and with 12 players, I got a little rest. I had a great time, truth be told, even if I did play with a bunch of whippersnappers, and I remembered what a great game basketball is to play.
You can play it by trying to jump out of the gym and flying through the lane for circus shots and running the ball upcourt like Steve Nash looking for Boris Diaw. Or you can play it Vlade Divac-style, which is my method. Never let your feet leave the floor. I have no idea how bad I would feel this morning if I had actually jumped a couple of times.
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