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Playing basketball on Saturday mornings

July 23rd
I wanted to run this morning, but I made a promise to my body to take a few days off. Last Saturday was the first day I played basketball in years. We used to meet at Avril Park, New Hyde Park and play for hours. It was a good opportunity to share stories and shit when we saw each at the office. I recall John Wagner, Pete Marcino and his brother Jim and Pat Sweeney and of course John Monetti and Arnold Bernard. Monetti and Bernard are still playing. I picked up Eric in Northport at 7ish and we were back in New Hyde Park just before 8. Playing basketball with guys you have not played with can be frustrating. Basketball is a team sport compared to running. With basketball you need to have an idea of the little finesses, like setting picks. This is when you intentionally stand and block an opposing player from defending your teammate; after the block is made you move towards the basket and may get a pass from your teammate or in the least, get close for the rebound. That’s setting a pick. The other basic play is the give and go. I pass the ball to you and I go to the basketball and you pass the ball back to me. I shoot the ball and it goes in. Give and go. My team was not playing as a team. When individuals play, they make mistakes, miss passes, don’t set picks and eventually drain themselves of energy. These days it’s close to ninety at nine thirty in the morning and humid, a speck of sweat is burned off in the sun, and after each game you find yourself sucking down the Gatorade and water and thinking…why am I doing this? This is fun? I don’t like talking shit when I play, I’m more of an old school player, keeping my mouth shut and looking for the open man who’s going to get “the rock” in. The rock. I think that’s an old expression today, but when you’re forty four anything other than the ball makes me sound so cool, doesn’t it? Sure. We played our games and won some games but lost most, and tomorrow we’re back on the court for more games. How did I play? It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I played awful. I’m interested in tomorrow’s outcome. If it’s like last week, there would be the shower when I get home, and a quick lunch, and the eventual escape to a nap in the air conditioning. The body can only take so much punishment.

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