There are a number of legendary stories about basketball great Pete Marovich's childhood. His father was a basketball coach, and it is said that the young Pistol was never separated from a basketball. On a recent CBS special one of his former classmates said that on their rides to school Pete would hang out the window of a moving car, dribbling the ball down the street. Other old friends recalled him dribbling the ball all the way to the movie theater every weekend. Once inside, we would sit in an aisle seat, and dribble the ball throughout the movie. He would start off one side of the theater, then half-way through the movie he would move to the other side of the theater so he could practice with his other hand. And, of course, vice versa.
My son Adam has long shared his father's obsession with Kentucky's real religion, basketball. He already owns four different basketballs, and prefers each ball for different activities. He and his basketballs are nigh inseparable.
We often go to the park across the street from our house to play on the playground. But at that park there are also two full basketball courts, which often sport pick-up games for a variety of skill levels. I've been known to sneak out of the house from time to time to teach the kids from the nearby Catholic high school a thing or two.
Every time we go to the park to play, Adam insists on stopping by the basketball courts on the way home. If no one is playing a game, he'll trot out to the free throw line, bounce his imaginary ball, and then fling it toward the hoop. If there are people playing, he watches in awe before mustering up the courage to try to charge the court and take them all on.
Today was a dreary, dark, damp, rainy day. Adam spent most of the day by the window, looking out, pointing longingly to the nearby park, begging to go out. I continually said, "Adam, it's raining today. We can't go outside when it rains." He didn't much care for that. We had to find something to do.
The other day we went to Target. My wife Sami, upon seeing the perfect treat for her little one, creatively manipulated our budget (as breadwinner she is the queen of the budget) to include a Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball set; Adam's very own basketball goal! Since then it has been sitting in the back of our mini van, waiting for the mechanically hapless Daddy to summon the courage to assemble it.
Turns out courage is easy to summon with the proper motivation. The prospect of Adam spending the rest of our already mostly wasted day staring out a window pleading with the clouds to stop dumping rain on his beloved park was enough to motivate me to get off my ass and, the prospect of disillusioning my child who thinks me a demi-god be damned, try to assemble the goal still sitting uselessly in the van.
It was, it turns out, easy. Really, anybody could do it. Took me five minutes, at the most. (Though that could be because Sami helped!) Adam spent almost the entire evening dunking his favorite basketballs through his very own brand new hoop. He was in toddler heaven.
Tonight it was more difficult than usual to put him to bed. He was clearly tired, but he finally had something worth staying up for. To go to sleep would be to finally surrender his never ending game of hoop. We finally coaxed him into the crib by letting him hold on to his favorite ball, with the promise that at first light the game begins anew.
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9 years ago