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A Basketball Player Once More

Not too long ago, I was out and about going to a basketball court in Arlington, Va., a passion of mine since the 4th grade. When I was approaching the court, a bunch of kids, appearing to be in their late teens, were waving to me to come play. I have to admit my adrenaline increased, for my desire to play in a game has never waned at all. As I moved closer to the kids, I began to think back on my boyhood friends with whom I had fierce playground basketball games. Their images were still so clear to me: Bob S., Matt, Don, Ozzie, Stevie, Robbie, Sol, Ronny, Bill B., Michael S. Mike, and others. I was in that daze of yesteryear when one of the kids yelled out, looking in my direction, “It’s just an old man.” I looked around to see where there was an old man and, belatedly, realized they were pointing at me. They mistook me for their friend, and now they realized I was just a “bit” older!

I was crestfallen, but picked myself up quickly, went to another court as originally planned and began shooting. I was hitting some shots from the outside, and driving to the basket like those days of old. I even used my left hand for a layup as I drove the lane on the left just as my father taught me to avert bigger guys from blocking my shot.

All of sudden, one of the kids came over to me, and said, “Mister, our friend did not come, and we have been watching you play. You aren’t that bad, and we were wondering if you would come join us so we could play 3 on 3.” I told the kid that it was the best offer I had that day, and, perhaps, all week. I got in the game, immediately became a basketball player once more, and my new youthful teammates, kiddingly, started calling me “Shooter,” for obvious reasons. It was not just splendid it was “splendisto.” These teens were not as good as the guys I played with on the courts in Park Ridge, N.J., as a kid, but it did not matter, for at this juncture, neither was I.

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