My team (Purple) played in our Monday Night Open Basketball League Championship game tonight and defeated Green 52-38 to clinch the title. Green was missing two of their key offensive players and that definitely gave us an advantage during the game.
Overall, I found the win hugely satisfying on a couple of levels. On a team level, I couldn't have asked for a better team to play with this season. Our team is diverse is so many ways. We range in age from 23 to 52. We had black, white and Asian players who lived all over the Bay Area (West and East Bay). Despite all these supposed "differences", the one thing that united us was the game of basketball. We didn't really have a super star so we had to play as a team and I felt we did that for nearly the entire season.
On a personal level, I feel this win has completed a circle for me. Back in late 1999 to early 2001, I had a lot of injuries that prevented me from playing basketball for a while. When I came back from injuries, I wasn't really myself and it took me a long time to mentally get back to playing basketball like I used to.
I remember during the time I was injured and early on when I came back from injury, I was a little envious of guys who were playing and winning the various championships. I remember wishing that I would get a chance to play for a team that won the championship.
In many ways, my wish was granted as I have now played on five different championship teams and each experience was unique and progressively better:
Spring 2001 - I was a role player on a team that featured a former professional player from Taiwan. I played a lot during the regular season but played minimal minutes in the playoffs and did not play at all in the championship.
Summer 2002 - I was injured the whole summer season and did not play while my team went 6-1 during the regular season. During the playoff and championship games, I was suddenly pressed into duty because of foul trouble.
Summer 2005 - I played the entire season on a dominant team that went 10-0. I wasn't one of the key guys though I scored 6 out of my team's first 10 points in the playoff game.
Spring 2008 Tournament - My friend and I got asked to play for a team that was formed at the last minute. The tournament was a mash of young (high school) and adult teams. Our team beat a couple of high school aged team and an adult team to win the championship. This was one second ever tournament that I played in and it was an interesting experience to win the title.
Fall 2010 - All the pieces of the past came together tonight. My team was good but not dominant (5-3 during the regular season). We didn't have any superstars. We weren't playing high school kids. The competition that we played had great players. Except for small ankle injury that slowed me for a week, I played the entire season and felt like I was contributing heavily. In addition, this was my first ever championship for this particular league and that is special.
I believe tonight's championship win completes a circle for me in terms of playing basketball. I'm the type of person that likes to experience different things. Tonight's experience was one of the best that I've ever had. If I never win another "championship" in the future, I am content that I have been blessed to have played with my team this season.
What's the future hold for me? I'm going to keep playing basketball for the near future but with a full eye on just enjoying the game. Winning is always fun and enjoyable but I'm looking toward what's next in my life.