Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Old Man and the Basketball


I play basketball on Monday nights.  It’s with a group of guys I’ve been playing with for over ten years.  We rent out a gym and play pickup games.  It’s just the right balance of competitiveness and also camaraderie.  The age range of players is from thirties to seventies. The athleticism range is from fit to the opposite of fit.  At 45, I find it amazing that I’m in the middle of the age group.  I sure hope I’m playing when I’m as old as some of the guys at the far end of the scale.

Since we match up against players of our own caliber, I’m not ever guarding the less fit guys or the really old guys and vice versa. But of course I’m playing with them.  I’ve found that it doesn’t matter if we are on the same team or not; some of these old guys are dangerous.  They don’t move well and have lost some basketball know-how which means they are reaching a lot and getting in the way.  This sucks cuz despite being old, they are not frail. These are big guys.  One of them is about 6’-4:” and weighs 300 lbs.  The 70 year old guy is about 6’-6” with elbows that are like caveman clubs.  Caveman – I think I’ll call him that.  He is big and hairy.  And seems to be losing his mind to the point where he has Neanderthal brain.

I admire Caveman for still playing basketball every Monday night.  I hope that I’m still playing in 25 years.  I think Caveman might have had some skills when he was younger but they’ve certainly dissipated in his old age. All of us guys forget that Caveman is old when we express frustration with his lack of defense or inability to catch a pass thrown at his chest.  It’s our competitiveness coming out and then the reality of the fact that Caveman sucks strikes and then guilt for being pissed at a 70 year old.

I’m concerned about Caveman.  The last couple years have taken a toll on him physically and mentally.  Recently we were about to start our first game of the night and Caveman kept wandering around the sidelines of the gym and rifling through his bag.  He was getting visibly upset and somebody asked him what he was doing.  He ignored them and somebody asked if he was looking for his goggles.  He didn’t respond so a couple other guys chimed in and all the sudden Caveman stopped and while his face turned beet red and steam billowed out his ears he screamed, “You bastards! I’m looking for my goggles!” 

It was impossible not to laugh.  His outburst was so childish and stupid.  Plus, his goggles were on his head.  One of the guys finally got him to touch his forehead so he’d find the elusive sport spectacles.

Numerous times over the last year or two, Caveman has been in his own world on the court.  He will think he’s on defense when we are on offense.  If he is on defense, his man will roam free, wide open for easy baskets because Caveman is standing off to the side doing who knows what.

One time I asked Caveman if he was okay.  He mentioned something about marketing materials and innovation.  The guy is losing it.

Last night, Caveman did a lazy and cheap foul near the end of the game.  He tried to set a pick on me (standing in my way so my guy can run free for a pass or drive to the rim) but I got around it easily.  Until Caveman moved with me and basically started to plow me over.  The play went on and their team scored.  I told Caveman his moving pick was bullshit and he started yelling at me that I ran him over.  I asked how I could run him over when I went around him until he moved his feet and plowed into me? And then he kept yelling at me and I called him a douchebag and walked away.

I felt bad for getting mad at Caveman.  He is old and clearly losing his mind. It’s just hard to cut him slack in the heat of the moment. Before the start of the next game he walked over and asked if I’m good with him.  I said yes and sorry for calling him a douchebag.  He said, “You called me a douchebag?”  I said, “No.”

Then I said, “Go put your goggles on, we are about to start.”  He trotted over to his stuff and rifled through his bag.  I smirked because his goggles were on his forehead.

20 comments:

  1. SOME PEOPLE NEED TO BE TAKEN CARE OF AND REMINDED. I FEEL THAT WAY NOW. I SEIT INSIDE WITH SUNGLASSES ON MY FACE LOOKING AT THE LAPYOP.

    EVERYONRE THINKS ITS FUNNY BUT ME.ITS NOT FUNNY. AT ALL

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    1. I think you have more support than Caveman. I'll try to remember to be nice to him.

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  2. Thank you for this one. When I was a kid, my dad played regular pick up games and brought me along to most of them -- I see now I was just the water girl. Your best description ever? "The athleticism range is from fit to the opposite of fit."

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    1. I bet you were an awesome water girl. Our water girl serves beer and is located at the bar for after we play.

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  3. I love that you play basketball. That's my sport.

    Man, that would be so tough. I'm so competitive, but have a very obvious soft spot for old people. Will you guys eventually tell him he can't play? It sounds like there may be a point where he could unintentionally hurt himself or someone else.

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    1. I admit that between him and the 300 lb guy, I'm afraid I'm going to witness a heart attack or death on the court some day. Your question is a good one. I'd sure hate to be told I can't play - seems like the ultimate condemnation. I think if either of them ever goes down, the basketball court is a the place to be. As long as they don't take anyone with them!

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  4. It really does sound like the onset of dementia, doesn't it? Though I would think exercise has got to be good for him.

    It's kind of sweet that he came over and asked if you were still good with him. Can't be a total douchebag. He's at least aware on some level that he's being a jerk.

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    1. That is a scary thought - it could be. He lives alone and I don't think has any family around. I think he works from home. I wonder who would be able to see changes and do anything about it?

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  5. I just wanna watch sometime. That's me, the voyeur.

    Really glad you're there. The differences we make, even while perhaps unaware. Oh, and no heart-attacks allowed!

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    1. I bet you can't watch very long before joining in.

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  6. You know what? For those guys, having a fatal heart attack while playing b-ball might be okay. It might even be what they hope for. That doesn't mean you have to like the idea, of course.

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  7. You are such an asshole, and I love it.

    To be honest, I think Caveman has his shit together more than I do, and I'm 36. I just put a box of tampons in the fridge.

    What?!

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    1. I once put a quart of milk in the pantry. It was next to the cereal, so I think it was a pretty smart move.

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  8. I was the right guard from 8th-12th grade. I'm amending our competition.

    One-on-one and for every point scored, the loser does the tequila shot.

    I will DESTROY you.

    Also, I don't want to get any older. This shit is seriously depressing.

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    1. You must really love tequila. I'm pretty good at basketball. Plus I'm 6'-3". When in the world are we going to schedule this magnificent duel of ours?

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. Sad to say, but some of us will be there someday. It is really hard to watch when people around you start to go downhill- be it mentally, physically or both. You may try to get in touch with his family and see if he is getting help. Sounds like he is having the early stages of dimensia. Probably was a wonderful guy in his prime.

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Gimmie some lip