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Up for a game of hoops?Posted Thursday, December 6, 2012, at 12:30 PM
Ever notice you seldom see kids outside shooting hoops any more? I know they still do, but it's nowhere near as common a site as it once was.
Many kids on the school teams are able to take part in open gym sessions and I know more and more area churches have added family centers and whatnot with indoor facilities, but even with these one would expect to see more kids out in the yard firing up jumpers and counting down last-second shots.
People like to say, "It's all video games now" with noted derision, but I don't think so. Hey, the Ryanman loved him some videos games growing up (still do), but they didn't keep me from going outside and shooting around--or even better--finding pick-up games "up town" after school or baseball practice.
My brother, Brett, was quite a bit older than I and he showed me the basic skills from a young age. Brett was an All-Conference point guard for the mighty Greenway Tigers, so I had a talented instructor when he was home visiting. I never played peewee or high school basketball. I never felt like I was good enough and, to be blatantly honest, was not interested in that much running. Living in the country, you had to be even more dedicated to an organized activity in order to take part and I just wasn't.
This never stopped me from playing hoops on my own or with by childhood best friend Matt Clark, though. Matt lived about a mile from me--which means we were neighbors in countryspeak--and he was not even a month younger than I, even though he as a grade behind--thanks to our respective September and October birthdays.
Man, we did just about everything together, but few things will compare to the amount of basketball we played. The road we lived on was, and remains, gravel and clay. Our basketball courts were dirt patches where continued use over time had worn away the grass. Matt played basketball at CCC, but he wasn't a star. We had battles against each other outside that would leave one or both of us mad, but they were usually forgotten pretty quickly.
We played ball no matter what the weather was like. I remember storms that were so windy the ball would be nowhere near the stinking hoop, but we'd still try to get a game in anyway. I remember the large snow we had in the mid-90s (our early teenage years) and how we shoveled snow off the "court" at his house just so we could play. Matt's dad, Jerry, was one of those athletes of the past who retained a high level of skill and athleticism for many, many years. He'd beat us in games of 2-on-1, HORSE, Around the World, 21 or any other variation. He made us work for any minor highlight, requiring us to actually "tip" the ball for a knockout in 21, not just rebounding and shooting in midair as the game has been played traditionally.
Heck, due to those many sessions, I've still got a turnaround jumper from the baseline I can stick in anyone's eye, regardless of their skill level. Oh yeah, it's true. I just have to spin a great deal faster now to accommodate my awesome ¾ inch vertical.
I'm reminded of those days every time I think to myself there are no kids outside playing. I immediately realize I don't see many adults out there either. Think the two might be connected?
Seriously, who can watch a game of basketball and not be overcome with the desire to shoot some hoops?
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