She’s a little rickety when she plays the game, just like me.
August bees fly out of her backboard when someone banks a shot, and they dare all comers with their swarming D.
Still, she sits regally (though not regulationally) atop a driveway court that slants steeply to the street.
And, oh the stories she could tell.
She was there when Randy Reeves, an ABC student who spent weekends with us, taught me how to shoot a proper layup when I was 10-years old. And when my dad and I played lopsided games of one-on-one with him standing across the street firing 60-foot shots and me dashing all over the court rebounding those bad boys (sometimes) and laying them back in (every now and then).
She saw my sister Kathy and her pals play a more social form of the game, and my sister Jenny, all fire and fury, hone her defensive chops. That backboard watched (and probably rolled her eyes a little) when my husband and I played rousing games of one-on-one that sometimes ended with us sprawled in an ungainly pile in the middle of her court.
Last night, I played a certain 18-year old I know in a first-to-10-no-12-no-15-best-of-three-no-five-no-seven pickup game series that kept getting longer because one of us wanted to make sure he won (he did), and the other was having a lot of fun.
I’m not sure what the cost per use of that old backboard is, but I’m sure she started paying us back years ago. Aside from spraying those ornery bees and replacing the hoop every decade or so, that humble backboard requires almost no care.
She consistently lures young people away from their gaming devices, and old people out of their chairs with the simple wink of the sun bouncing off those orange stripes. She’s a pretty fierce coach too and if you’ve ever done the Mikan Drill you know what I mean.
I forget sometimes how good it feels to step away from our complicated lives and enjoy some of its simpler pleasures — like sinking your signature shot, or watching a kid who hasn’t had a lot of breaks in his life figure out that he is a really good athlete.
Here’s to love and basketball and those old driveway hoops that make them all possible.
P.S. I really love the movie Love and Basketball so much I once told a priest friend of ours he should watch it. Later, when I watched it again, I realized it was a pretty inappropriate movie to recommend to a priest. But, as you can see, I am undaunted, because I am recommending it to you. I also recommend you pick up that basketball that’s sitting in your garage and go out onto your driveway to shoot some hoops. You’ll feel like a kid again.