Monday, February 1, 2016

A Three From the Side

I saw the ball swing around to the spot where my son Sam was standing.

The score was tied.

He caught the pass.

"Shoot it," I whispered to myself.

Sam did.

Good form, no one near him.

Nothing but net.

A three.

The people in the gym cheered.

The applause sounded really loud to me.

I saw Sam head back on D.

He glanced in my direction, but looked away quickly.

Matt and my beautiful wife and my wonderful mother-in-law were all cheering behind me.

"'Bout time he did something," Matt said.

Following the first half I went to the car to get my phone. When I re-entered the gym Sam was standing just inside the door, dribbling the ball. They were just finishing up their shoot-around before the second half started.

"Give me it," I said to Sam.

He passed me the ball.

I was deep in the corner.

I took aim.

My heavy jacket was a minor concern, but I could hit this shot (from well behind the 3-point line) all day when I was young.

The airball nearly skulled a kid standing about four feet beyond the hoop near the opposite corner.

Sam laughed. Matt guffawed from his spot on the bleachers.

"It's the jacket," I yelled. "And that was a pass!"

Sitting through the second half I thought about all of the games of basketball that I played as a kid. In high school we were all so close. We shaved our heads for a big game. The long bus rides.

The laughs were constant.

In college I played on a rec league team with a bunch of friends who didn't play a lot. I used to have to shoot the ball nearly every time down. My arm hurt after a lot of those games. But George and Gema and Fluff were a blast to play with.

I mostly remember laughing.

Following college we played a million games with friends from the hometown...on a court that was a little smaller. We all played our hearts out. We drank beer immediately after.

Man we laughed a lot.

I thought all the way back to the games in the backyard at the big house on the top of the hill with my brothers and the buddies from the neighborhood. We called our own fouls. We played until there was blood under the hoop.

And we laughed.

"Great shot," Sam said to me as we arrived at home.

I didn't even bother to blame the jacket.

"Did you see my shot? I'm not even sure it actually touched the net. It went straight through."

I laughed.

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