Shooting Hoops

In the summer of 2000, I was having the time of my life doing nothing but basketball summer training. I fell in love with the hoops game a few months back and, for the first time in my life, took sports seriously. I spent countless hours at the playing courts after school, taking part in impromptu pick-up games. I devoured books (my favorite was Gail Goodrich’s highly informative work) and did my research. Despite my inexperience and relatively late start, I set my sights on making the high school varsity.

Things didn’t turn out the way I planned and, fortuitously, I ended up on the track. But during the months I spent as a basketball player, I developed explosiveness, endurance and a nifty shooting arm.

Back then, I loved shooting hoops. I spent hours at length working on my shooting. I can still remember one time before basketball practice. I couldn’t seem to miss as I made around thirty or forty consecutive free throws. Consistency was key as I strove to follow that picture perfect L-shaped shooting arm, feeling my palm cocking the ball towards my face.

As I became a better track athlete, basketball took a back seat as I avoided unnecessary risks of injury. Since 2008, when I retired from collegiate track, I’ve began to play quite a lot of hoops. I was way below my 2000 standard, but the athleticism I’ve developed from those no-nonsense track workouts did much to help me get by.

But I couldn’t seem to find my shooting rhythm. Until last night.

While warming up for an ACI/MART basketball game, I swore I felt like I was fifteen years old yet again, chasing far-flung hoop dreams. I initially missed a shit load of shots from just below the three-point line. But once I found my rhythm, I was banging it in. The looping shots and the subsequent, nothing-but-net sounds were surreal.

I don’t see myself trading my sprinting spikes for high cut basketball shoes any time soon. Basketball, after all, is more than just shooting hoops in warm-up. Nevertheless, it felt great to reconnect with my first sport.

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