PUMPING IRONY: Hoop Dreams

I was just clearing dishes from the table after dinner last night when my son said two little words that are changing my life.

“So . . . basketball?”

Mr. Parkour wasn’t talking about heading downstairs with a six-pack to catch some March Madness on the tube. He was challenging me to get off my duff and head over to the gym and shoot some hoops.

This is a relatively new preoccupation for M.P. When he’s not working these days you can usually find him perfecting his free-running moves or joining his pals for a spirited game of basketball at one gym or another around town. And, given that he’s 20 years old and on the verge of heading out on his own, any invitation is something of an honor.

And a challenge. There’s something about your son taking up a sport that you once played that fires up the old competitive juices — or at least what’s left of them. You want to take advantage of these dwindling opportunities to hang out together, but you secretly (or not so secretly) want to show him you still got it.

That’s not easy when you’re pushing 60 and haven’t really played competitively for the past decade. On our last foray to the hardcourt a month ago, for instance, I spent a half-hour or so hoisting airballs and clanking bricks before I began to find my stroke. Tonight felt better. The knee seemed strong and some of the old moves began to resurface (in super slow-mo, no doubt). And for the first time in a long, long time, I began to entertain the notion that maybe I could get back on the court again.

In fact, M.P. and I have been talking about putting up a hoop on the garage and buying a basketball. And I’ve been trash-talking with his pal, Justin, who is itching to play some two-on-two as soon as the snow is cleared from the court at the local elementary school. (All I need to do is recruit my tennis buddy — and hoops legend — M.E. and it would be “game on”!)

This could be a mid-life crisis, I suppose, if I wasn’t already so close to retirement age. But, practically speaking, everyone says it’s important to have a variety of activities in your fitness regimen. And I figure that as long as I don’t pretend I’m 28 (or even 48) again, there’s at least a 50-50 chance that I’ll survive this infatuation relatively unscathed.

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