Sometime as a kid I vividly remember being given a soccer ball by an aunt as a gift. I had the ball outside in the short grass at my Dad’s place. I remember kicking the ball around while my aunt proclaimed I was in a World Cup soccer Game. For some odd reason, I proclaimed that I was not playing soccer but was playing basketball.
Once I entered school, I finally realized the actual difference between the two sports. In the opening few minutes of elementary school education, we all were able to pick up these revolting dark red and purple dodgeballs and bounce them around. I spent more time trying to actually reach the lower 4 baskets fastened to the sides of the gymnasium wall.
My Dad saw my early fascination with the game so he installed a net on his property and had one put up above my grandparent’s garage. I would play ball a few times but then kind of forget it for a few weeks at a time. Around 5th grade I started to take up playing ball again on a more regular basis. In 6th grade I would try out for the elementary school team. The sole reason I did end up getting through was due to the tragic passing of a much more skilled player and the move of one to Halifax. So I was actually cut from the team but was the very last one to be cut.
What a dreadful season that was. Having to end up wearing these small uniforms which did not fit in order to take a place in amongst the local courts. The lone game that the team won that year was conveniently a game I did not make due to illness. Many teammates probably joked that I was a curse to the court. Even more odd was the fact that the only other time in the season that I did get my hand on the ball, resulted in a short jump-shot which brought our score up to 2.
To supplement my dreary on-court performance at elementary school, my parents enrolled me in the local minor basketball program in nearby Trenton, the same town where a few short years before I would enjoy a brief sting as a right-winger on a novice hockey team. I was able to do much more playing ball in Trenton where we had an extended season and more time for practice.
I started to really dig playoff time in the NBA. My ultimate respects were directed towards the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan arguably is the greatest player to ever play the game. The championship runs, and eventual championships those Chicago clubs won were amazing. Phil Jackson’s prowess as a coach was inspiring to watch. Like many kids, I wanted to “be like Mike”.
to be continued….