Wednesday, December 2, 2009
You guys will have to excuse me if this entry comes off a bit cocky in the beginning, but it's needed to put things into perspective.
Simply put, I've never played a sport I wasn't good at. At 5, I was already playing soccer with my 15-year-old brother and my dad, both excellent soccer players in their own right. By the time I got to the little leagues, these kids didn't stand a chance. I remember just killing the tryouts one year. I must have been 7 or 8. My team was ahead by a few goals when the coaches had the brilliant idea to switch me over to the other team. Ppff! We came right back and beat my old team. My World Cup ambitions didn't last too long, though. Soon enough, I was obsessed with baseball. To this day, my brother Gary thinks I could have made the pros if I stuck with it. But then I started playing basketball.
Now, things got to a slower start with bball. The other kids were pretty experienced by the time I started balling so I had to play catch-up. I eventually did and became a pretty good player. Well, not NBA good, but good enough to compete with the best I've played against. But like soccer and baseball, my hoop dreams eventually came to an end. This time, it wasn't for lack of interest, I knew I wasn't draft material, so I TRIED (key word) focusing on school instead. I haven't played consistent ball since maybe 2001, so needless to say my skills have greatly deteriorated since then. It was slow road, though.
Once I stopped playing, I got into the bad habit of playing once or twice a year. I remember playing for the first time in about a year back in '02, '03. My cousins Diddy and Frantz are witnesses. "I haven't played in like a year," I disclaimed minutes before the game started. By the fourth or fifth possession, I got by my defender with a jab step, cradled the ball Stacey Augmon-style, and went up for a dunk over my cousin's neighbor. "You haven't played in a year my ass," the anonymous neighbor complained. I missed the dunk. But the point was, despite having been away from the game for so long, I could still play.
About two years ago, I had some memorable playground 2 on 2 games with my boys Ed, Fred and Guytwin. Though rusty, I clearly still had some ball left in me, pause. Feeling good at the time, I told myself (as I had a million times before) that I had to get back on the court before it was too late. I was still hopeful when I played a few games after work last summer. I was leaning towards the awful side, but nothing a few pick-up games wouldn't have fixed. As many times as my boy Hobbs invited me to play ball on Saturdays, I declined to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm all day. It's not like I hadn't seen the episodes before. I mean, I own the entire series on DVD for God's sake.
Anyway, my boy Jax hit me to join his basketball team last week. Hmmmmmmmmm! Why not? I figured I'd been putting the game off all those years, so it was finally time to get back to it before I reached the point of no return. Well, apparently it's too late. We had our first scrimmage this past Monday to determine what division we'll play in. Like I said, despite being on the suckier side, I had some moments the last few times I played ball. Well, there were no moments on Monday. Man, I sucked hard, pause! The funny thing is I observed the other team during the warm-ups and thought to myself, "these guys suck, (1) I probably won't look too bad." Please! I sucked against sucky players— the kind of guys I probably would have embarrassed back in the day. It was so bad! I had all these great moves in mind, but it's like my body wouldn't follow. And let's not even talk about my cardio. I was Allen Iverson out there, hitting the floor and stuff. Sure, my sneakers are done and the floor was slippery, but I didn't see anybody else take a dive. And I'm not talking Dennis Rodman hustle dives. I'm talking fall off my ass dives. Man, I'm garbage. Fittingly, I've become a garbage man— the type that has to settle for rebounds off good positioning and contribute with hustle plays 'cause he doesn't have the talent to keep up in other areas. What a mess! SMH!
I'm glad I'm able to poke fun, but it does hurt a bit. All those inactive years, basketball never left me. I'm at home shadow dribbling on my way to the kitchen on a daily basis. Either that, or I flick my wrist (pause) to motion jumpers at any random moment. Too bad those non-exercises didn't help preserve my game. I'll probably never be the same player, but I hope I can get back to a decent level.
What about you guys? Have you had similar experiences playing the sports you've played growing up? Maybe it was dancing, or something else. In any event, I'd like to know about it. If y'all suck too, it may just make me feel a bit better.
(1) I don't pause in my thoughts