After busting my ass on my bike for the last several months, I can finally say that I’m on the very, very low end of “being in shape.” Although for me, being in basketball shape is a lot different than being able to bike 50 miles at a decent pace.
Basketball shape is just a lot harder for me to keep up. It’s partly because my pockets of free time don’t coincide with the times kids go out and ball. You can’t really simulate the physical and mental demands of full-speed 5-on-5 when you’re by yourself, no matter how hard you try.
The other reason is because I’m old man. The shape of high schoolers and pre-freshmen-15 college kids never ceases to amaze me.
I remember playing real adults when I was in high school and they would always make side comments about how it’s not fair that I’m in good shape. I hated that stuff but I never really thought about what it would be like to, you know, be old.
I biked past a local run and I jumped in with some of the aforementioned high school and early college kids.
Don’t worry, I still look like I’m 14 so except for some trash talk where I yelled, “your shooting percentage is lower than the interest on my Bank of America CD!,” I kept my mouth shut and pretty much fit right in.
I held my own during the first game. I’ve lost a step in the past two years but my midrange game has, surprisingly, held up. The kid guarding me bit every time I pump-faked so whenever I got the ball, I was able to get him in the air for a lay-up or to feed a cutting teammate.
My defense held up pretty well also. As old and pretentious as this sounds: I played the angles surprisingly well for being so rusty. It was definitely because the guys in the game just weren’t mature basketball-wise. They seemed to save their energy spurts trying to get open for a pass or whenever they had the ball. There wasn’t too much offensive movement away from the ball which, I guess, may be the personality of this specific youngish run.
The second game was a different story. I got owned pretty hard.
Because I would change my speed during play and didn’t feel the need to sprint constantly, my teammates figured I was slow. I also picked up a few blocks simply because I had my hands up in the paint. So for the second game, they put me on one of the bigger guys on the opposing team.
I like playing D and I have always claimed that if I had another foot, I would have been a DI mid-major Rony Seikaly. So I happily took my assignment.
The problem was that this guy had way too much game for me. The dude was around 6’4″ and could stroke it from anywhere on the court. I hadn’t played anyone with that much range from deep since Travis Diener’s cousin (who, supposedly, played on the scout team at Marquette for a year).
This dude figured that he didn’t have to put too much effort in against me so he started to post me up. He had one post move: he would back me up and fadeaway off his right shoulder.
Eventually, one of my teammates wanted a shot at mini-Travis Diener so I switched off him but I was just dead at that point. All other nine guys on the court had no trouble sprinting back and forth but I was huffing and puffing like medical marijuana was smoking from the black top.
Needless to say, we lost and got kicked off the court. I had to get on my bike in shame and ride home with my old ass self. Well, at least I can go home and drink a nice, cold beer. Take that, youngsters.