I had a happy ending to my summer.
Since I teach high school I have a wonderfully extended summer break. During the doldrums of February thinking about summer break is sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed. (Do I hear an amen, teachers?) Even though today is August 6, it’s the end of my summer break. In Indiana that means I’m at a late start school. Nearly everyone else has been back for a week already. I wanted to squeeze the last bit of fun out of my last summer day.
Okay, on to the reason I’m writing this. This summer I’ve spent lots of time playing basketball. I’m a basketball junkie to the nth degree and nothing is quite as fun as being on the court myself. I had one of those catastrophic Bernard King knee injuries a few summers ago and was convinced for quite some time that if I ever played basketball again it would be super casual, probably just some shooting games. HA! My family doctor insisted that I should play as quickly, as much and aggressively as I could. I’ve done my best but it’s been a very long process. I could say that I’ve taken lots of Baby Steps in that effort.
For a while I only played indoors on wood courts. That was a hassle and got expensive quickly. It was also infrequent enough not to be very helpful. I moved on to concrete with great trepidation meaning (deep sigh) almost exclusively to the court <5 minutes from my house where I suffered the initial injury. Month after month, I played sporadic halfcourt games with my giant knee brace on. Every time I got jostled or tried to jump or sprint dig in for a loose ball, my heart jumped into my throat.
Slowly I gained a bit more confidence and became to willing to run fullcourt games. Always with the giant brace, usually avoiding a full sprint and often mentioning my injury out loud just so everyone would know.
Now this summer I’ve moved dramatically from fear to fun. My 16 year old son and I went to the local park to play this afternoon and were joined by some other high school kids and a couple 20 somethings. I usually wear my brace if there’s a chance a real game will happen but today guys seemed to appear out of nowhere so I wasn’t prepped like usual. No brace.
I was guarded by a very physical guy who knocked me down multiple times. Once, he hit me so hard that I went sprawling to the ground, play stopped, my defender apologized and everyone came to check on me. It was so nice to realize that they were more worried about me than I was worried about myself. As soon as I got up, I teasingly declared that I was an obvious target because I wasn’t wearing my knee brace today. Everyone understood I was joking and started laughing. Even six months ago I couldn’t have imagined this kind of tumble serving as a tension breaker but it was. And it worked. The game resumed normally.
And the happy ending? After playing several games I announced that I only had one more left in my legs so half a dozen of us played 21. I was astonishing! I made lots of difficult shots, rebounded really well and dominated the game. I think the next highest score was 8. Playground 21 isn’t exactly known for Tom Thibodeau defense but nobody likes being dominated. It was definitely the best I’ve played in years and happened at exactly the end point of the summer. Nice.
Then I drove home while Jake hung out and played for an extra hour. And there’s the difference between 40 and 16…
 Okay, Derrick Rose. I can do 21st century references…
 ™Leo Marvin
 He’s the best defensive coach in the NBA.