From the moment
I first borrowed my friend’s basketball shorts I knew this wasn’t going to be good.
While some six year olds are destined for greatness my best athletic years literally only included running up and down the court.
Sure my heart and my mind were fully in it. I also imagined making championship winning shots in the NBA, but I just never had the right body.
As a six year old, the tunnel I went through was moving from cricket-playing India to hockey-loving Canada. I wasn’t good at cricket or hockey either.
It wasn’t until Gretzky the Magnificent left Edmonton for Los Angeles and years later when I followed suit from Calgary that my love for the Lakers emerged. It wasn’t immediate. If we’re being completely honest I only started watching to fit in with my new friends. Kind of like dating a girl just because your friends think she’s cool, and over time she just grows on you. Sorry!
We used to shoot hoops in my best friend’s driveway and I was really really “in-like” with it. I would even practice dribbling by myself when no one was around. My friends were all much better than me and thank God I had a decent enough personality that they let me keep playing. But friends can be cruel too. I got beat on the boards, badly. My shots would get swotted and many times they would just take the ball away mid-dribble. That’s not the worst. I’ve suppressed some memories but I’m sure they called me names and made fun of my hockey playing Canadian heritage.
But I endured. Taking on the physical pain and the emotional damage. I remember stubbing my fingers going after many a loose ball. Ouch! That takes weeks to recover. One time, attempting to defend in a pick up game, I ran straight into larger opponent and got knocked to the ground. I don’t think he even budged.
But it wasn’t all bad. One time I made a $100 playing against an even skinnier friend. Thankfully no one was calling fouls but I like to think it was the die hard competitor in me that brought out the champion that day. I was down by 4 points but went on a 8 to 0 run to win the first-to-21-points game that day. Pure awesomeness. The number one to my top ten basketball career highlights. Which reminds me, Gene, you owe me $100.
Like Kobe, I’m also retiring. I picked up the basketball a couple of times last year and it just wasn’t good. My body could take the pounding and my heart could use the exercise but my mind knows it is just too embarrassing to even try now. I gave it all I had when I wasn’t focusing on work, friends, family, going to beach, watching movies or watching hockey. Beyond all that, I really was devoted.
Oh Basketball, I’ll always be that awkward kid who never had the right shoes, the right shorts or the right dribble.
Kobe, I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been watching you all these years. I watched in awe as I witnessed what a human journey is capable of. It was nothing short of magical.