Full-Court Press

My knees feel like they`re swimming in a thick viscous fluid… and they ache. My ankles are throbbing and swollen. My toes are numb.

I think, perhaps, that I just might have overexerted myself a bit. Ah, but `tis a good pain, a necessary pain. A pain that I have avoided for far too long.

Today was the championship tournament of our local corporate basketball league. The culmination of a long regular season. Two games per hour (on different courts) “round-robin” style until a champion was crowned. 12-minute quarters, full-court, only brief respites between games. Thrilling. Exhausting.

I was a late addition to the team… brought on late in the season as an “emergency” substitution (a “twelfth man” if you will) but, due to my “surprising” debut (11 points, 8 rebounds, 25 assists) in a game where several of our starting players were absent, it was decided that I would be the “sixth man” playing Point Forward – usually coming off the bench at the six minute mark of the quarter to energize the offense and disrupt the other team with my overly physical streetball-style defense.

The role suits me well, as I have not yet restored my stamina to the excellence of my former days and this designation allows me to play hard without feeling as if I have to hold anything back. Since I know that I will only be finishing out the quarter, and that I will rest the first half of the next, I can play unhinged and without reservation. Disarming the opposition with my exuberance.

As ideal as it sounds on paper, I have to admit that it is no easy task in execution. My wind is limited, and I am around five-to-ten years older than the average player in this league. Though not the oldest, I am certainly towards the higher end of the spectrum.

The long-forgotten quickness of my youth must be replaced with the agility of my instincts and the wisdom of my experience. I have to outmuscle the smaller quicker Guards that I cover, and outhustle the strong young Forwardsoutthinking all of them.

I continue to be surprised at how the power of one`s will dominates the sport of Basketball, especially in tactics.

An old, slow-footed, out-of-shape duffer like myself can average a double-double over the span of a tournament against “kids” that play the sport unceasingly and/or for local high school or college teams… what?! How is this possible?

I push myself to the limit, constantly in motion… roving around the perimeter, dishing behind-the-back passes, diving for loose balls, and hustling up and down the court. I suppose I compensate in effort for my lack of talent. But I digress…

We won the tournament, of course.

Favored by a harmonious unity of a couple choice gray-beards (like myself) and youngish collegiate has-beens (including my 6`10″ brother Kenyatta, we were like Stockton and Malone out there!), we swept the opposition of local companies and municipal organization. I joked with my teammates, after blowing out the Police Department by twenty points, that we might want to be careful driving around town. But seriously…

I had a grand time, and it feels so good to be playing sports and really competing again. I know my body, though it hurts, is better for the exertion… even so, there were a couple troubling moments.

At one point I had difficulty “catching my breath” when I came to the sidelines, another time I felt my heart-rate escalating far beyond any rhythm I had ever experienced. Both instances were transitory, but they each gave me pause – reminding me that I still have a ways to go towards truly getting back in shape.

It is my hope that, participating in both work and church-related sporting events, weekend excursions to the beach, combined with gardening and/or just working outside o`er this Summer, my overall health will continue to be improved substantially from recent years.

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