I had a nice little time yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful spring day and the city basketball courts were full. I played a couple of games.
At one point I brought the ball up court, and someone who wasn’t my man picked me up, bumping me the whole way down. I dribbled with some power to make him commit, then pulled up five feet outside the three-point line while he kept going. Nothing but chain.
Hadn’t done that in a long time. I even said “get off me!” and tried to look him in the eyes, which I’m a little embarrassed about.
Played well the rest of the time. Hit a couple of threes. Had some nice passes. The nice thing about being me is that when a 300-pound man beats his guy by dribbling behind his back, everyone on the sidelines does that whole “Oh! Dang!” thing. What can I say? *humblebrag* It’s what I do.
After one of the games, while the next team was picking a side, one of the guys, who looked like he might still be in high school, asked if I’d dunk the ball. Just to show him. When guys asked me that ten (+) years ago, I’d throw it off the backboard, or tomahawk it. This time I had to tell the guy I might not be able to (the neighbor kid had asked me the day before and I hadn’t quite managed it), but since my legs were warm from playing I did a straight one-handed dunk pretty easily.
Then this kid wanted to throw me an alley-oop. Which he did. I missed, but was thankful that I threw it off the back of the rim instead of the front.
On the last play of one game I pump faked, which was credible because for the first time in a long time I was hitting from outside, drove baseline, and dunked with the left. The dunk was strong, because I’m huge, and it was on a double rim with chain nets. The sideline erupted in jeers and yelled advice about stopping me. Like in the old days.
The truth is, I barely got up high enough. And I had a running start.
I had taken my seven-year-old boy along to watch. I believe he was the reason I was so focused; I wanted to impress this little boy. I couldn’t wait to see if he’d bring it up when we left, I had to ask him right away: “Did you see your old man dunk?”
I said “old man” because I wanted to sound casual. I didn’t want to sound desperate. But I realized as I said it that I really am his old man. And I was desperate that he be impressed.
He was. More by the three-pointers than the dunk, but I didn’t care. I was happy. And I realized as we walked home that this might be the last time he sees me dunk a basketball.
I suppose it’s a little late for me to be realizing this, but I guess I’m passing the torch, whether I like it or not. I still play organized sports, and the younger kids are as impressed by me in my St. Andrew’s rugby kit as they are by professional athletes. But it’s time.
I’m not the basketball player anymore. They are. Little Joffre has a spin move, and I’m working on his crossover. I’m sure it’ll feel like no time at all when we’re in the driveway and he dunks on me. I’ll be very proud. I hope I’ll be ready.