PUMPING IRONY: Disaster Averted

Well, of course I played basketball last night — despite a weird twinge in my left knee and a general whole-body soreness from Sunday’s tennis match/basketball shoot-around. (What did you expect?)

And it was OK.

I didn’t roll my ankle or catch an elbow in the mouth or take a knee in the groin. I mostly stayed out of the way of the big guys in the paint and tried to make some good passes and play sort of a middling defense. All my cardio work seemed to pay off, in that I could go up and down the court for a solid 90 minutes and still feel pretty fresh by the end of the evening.

All my old basketball buddies had aged — some more gracefully than others. D.D., who’s in his mid-50s, hobbled up and down the court like a man who needs a new hip — which he does. T.W., who’s pushing 60, can’t quite get off the ground anymore when he’s rebounding. And J.Y., now in his early 50s, doesn’t really drive the lane anymore for those acrobatic underhanded lay-ups.

They weren’t alone in showing their years. I didn’t expect that I would exactly light it up after so many years away from the game, but I also didn’t expect it would be so tough to get off a shot that didn’t clang off the backboard or miss the rim entirely. In the final game of the evening, with my team needing one basket to clinch the game (we hadn’t won one all night) I broke free for an easy lay-up . . . and it rolled off the rim.

Still, it was fun to trade jibes with these old guys again after so many years away from the court, and it was gratifying to realize that my workout regimen over the past three years had kept me in good enough shape to avoid cardiac arrest.

Now if I can just get my shooting stroke back.

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