Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Gerry got his limp back

Yesterday, I laced up my shoes and played basketball. For two hours. In 95-degree heat at 8 p.m.

I think I acquitted myself well: hit a bunch of midrange shots, a couple of threes and posted up as much as I could. The assists piled up. The rebounds rained down.

And so did the sweat. I felt bouncy at the beginning of the evening, but 20 minutes in I was drenched in perspiration, had consumed a half-liter of water and was doing everything I could to avoid running around. After two games of three-on-three (in which my team was humiliated both times), I had to take a break.

Blame it on the heat, blame it on the humidity, blame it on my advanced age. But I was spent. I ended up playing in three more games and survived.

Honestly, it felt really good (mentally speaking) to be playing basketball at all. It's my favorite sport, and it's not exactly a national pastime around here. And I know I sounded like I was patting myself on the back an awful lot above, but I DID do pretty well, some missed layups and clanged jumpshots aside.

It made me a little sad, though, to realize that I'm not as young as I was. Yeah, yeah--that's how time works, I shouldn't be surprised, etc. But it's hard for me to stay in front of someone on defense and although I never had more than a 25-inch vertical, I'm just not explosive anymore. Shot blocking used to be easy. Now it's work.

But the biggest indicator that times had changed was my right knee. Cartilage damage in high school (also playing basketball) meant arthroscopic surgery a few years ago and a surgeon telling me that the game was basically off-limits to me. Day to day, it's not a problem. But after two hours of high-heat hoops... look out.

It hurt last night. But today I'm walking like the old man I evidently am. I guess that's the import tariff on the world's greatest game.

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