Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Art of Old Guy Basketball, Part II

Good evening, dear readers. I write this to you from a chair, which is not in itself unusual, but it is a chair from which I will not easily rise. That's because for the first time since arriving in Hong Kong, I played ball.

Oh, yes.  The Parents of the Blog got me a basketball for Christmas. I had been in the market for one for a while; our digs in Hong Kong are basically surrounded by public sports facilities, including some nice basketball courts. Many a day I walked by, taunted by the pristine nets--not chains!--well-maintained backboards and playing surfaces that, as far as I could tell, appeared to be scrubbed weekly, if not daily.

Someone pays close enough attention to the courts that the trapezoidal "international" foul lane…

The geometry makes it more fair, or something.

… had been scrubbed out at some point and replaced with the NCAA standard free-throw lane. Not only that, but the NCAA three-point line, which was recently moved to 20 feet, 9 inches, was up to standard. And you could see where the old one was before the groundskeepers scrubbed it off.

How to use the NCAA three-point line.

Anyway, the point is, I had been wanting to get out and see how bad my shot had gotten since hooping it up in the Middle East. Today, I did it (after buying an air pump at Toys R US. Don't judge; the sporting goods store was "sold out" of pumps).

The result is, as I mentioned above, extremely sore knees. But I finally got a glimpse of what street basketball in Hong Kong means, at least in our little overplanned high-rise forest of a neighborhood. Several observations:

1) On the courts where I was playing, everyone wanted to be a guard.

2) No one played a ton of defense.

3) The average height was greater than that of the rest of Hong Kong, but still less than 6-foot-3, i.e., me.

That meant several things. Point (1) meant that I, a guy who somehow managed to be a post player in high school (second-most blocked shots in freshman history, holla!), had an advantage in not just height but know-how. Everyone was willing to give up position in the paint, no one seemed to see my patented, and by that I mean totally telegraphed, shoulder-fake coming, and I boxed the hell out of anything that moved.

Point (2) meant that when I did get away from the basket, I could square my shoulders, set my feet, not jump, and have a clean look at the hoop. It also meant that by playing any defense AT ALL, I could affect the game. This type of nominal guarding saved me the embarrassment of wheezing to a halt on a court full of young whippersnappers.

Point (3) meant the obvious--even my 36-year-old, bad-kneed self could get away with not jumping a whole lot and still getting rebounds, blocking shots, and so on.

In short: It was the perfect recipe for a game of Old Guy Basketball. I didn't dribble much. I passed a lot. I didn't shoot more than a couple of times beyond three feet. I was probably really annoying to anyone chasing a rebound under the basket.

And my team won.

I will take comfort in that as I ice my knees.

1 comment:

Pete Valavanis said...

now you gotta work on your snooker game.