Last night after a long day of principaling and supervising and watching our Lady Hornets play basketball and volleyball, I finally made my way home with another sack of McDonald’s. It was late and all I really wanted to do was sit in my favorite chair and relax.
Reflexively, I grabbed the remote and turned on the television expecting what I always expect, background noise amounting to not much.
But I stopped on ESPN (a rarity for me these days) and something caught my eye. It was a piece about the old ABA.
So I watched for a moment as old grainy highlights of half filled gyms in Roanoke or Raleigh flashed on my TV for just a moment. Interspersed were the old stars telling tales of days gone by in a league that truly transformed basketball.
And then I did something that I hadn’t done in a while when thinking about professional basketball. I smiled. Then, I laughed.
Then I got my son’s attention as the story turned to my childhood idol, one DR. J, Julius Erving.
And just like that my son wasn’t the only 12 year old in the room anymore.
I loved basketball. I still do. I had almost forgotten.
In a strange twist of irony, I have spent much time on this site frustrated by the current state of the game, especially at the NBA level. I tire of ever shrinking shot clocks and the trickle down of NBA tactics and rules into the amateur game.
But last night I remembered, I do love this game.
I fell in love with it as a child. I fell in love with it because of Cawood and Sam Bowie and Dicky Beal and Jim Master and my dad and all of my family who would literally stop everything they were doing to hunker down and listen as the game became intense.
I fell in love with it because I had one of those Red and White and Blue basketballs and a goal in the back yard attached to an old telephone pole.
I fell in love with it because my brother played on the varsity and when I stood under the goal and rebounded for the team in warm ups, the old Tville High gym felt like the Boston Gardens.
I fell in love with it because at its core, it is a truly fun kid’s game. It is fun to play and fun to watch and in our great state it is the heart of so many communities.
I haven’t watched all the documentary, but for the hour or so I did watch, I am grateful. I have been in hoops as a player or manager or coach since I was in the 6th grade. Sometimes, being involved so closely can make one lose perspective and take things for granted. Sometimes when I am in it I treat it more like a job than the game that it is. Often when I dare to peek at the NBA it is unrecognizable to me.
But last night I recognized it again. And it was as wonderful as it always has been.