Aw.Glowing hard wood.The stink of socks and sweating bodies.The squeak of sneakers.The bong bong bong of the b-ball.The steady muttering of low level cussing.
Basketball probably saved my ass.
I tried out for Pony League and made a team. But I didn’t get to pitch or play much. Once the coach put me at third base. A guy makes it to second and—for god’s sake—he tries to steal. I make like what I have seen on the TV. I go for the ball with a sweeping motion. Completely miss. And the ball hits me right in the testicles. Fucking-A did that hurt. So much for baseball.
I had grown nine inches in a year and become quite ill coordinated. I actually fell over my own two feet on several occasions. My feet had shot out too. So I had to reassess my sport’s career. Suddenly I was towering over my peers. Obviously I needed to make use of my new found height and basketball recommended itself. Besides I liked it.
So I did what I had done with baseball. I practiced. As with pitching, I could practice basketball alone. Out back was an empty space of flat white dirt. Leche, it was called. Like milk. Apparently it was a left over from some ancient time because it had been created out of decomposed sea shells and such. I decided to put up a hoop and my father said he would help.
I dug a hole, mixed up some concrete and stuck a 15 foot long four by four piece of redwood in the ground. Bolted to it was a backboard, made out of ply wood and painted white. The hoop was attached to that.
The playing area was narrow. I couldn’t go much to the right or I would run into a rock wall that held up the little lawn out back and if I went too much to the left I would go over the edge of the little plateau down into a field full of anis weed. But I could shot straight away from at least 20 feet although by that point the ground began to slope and I was shooting at a hoop about six inches too high.
I was pleased.