Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Basketball Feels Like Work

Playing basketball is s fun activity for me.  Otherwise, I wouldn't do it as much as I do.  I played in two leagues (Mondays / Wednesdays or Thursdays) for three months from February until May.  I play almost every Saturday with friends.  For the past few months, I've been playing every other Sunday as well.

However, it was the league play this spring that was the most rewarding.  As I noted in previous posts, my teams won both league championships.  It was a great bonding experience for all the players involved on both my teams.

What people don't realize is that while PLAYING was fun, there was a lot of other logistical things that were involved.  For example, for my Monday night team, I was not only a player but a captain.   I had responsibilities to organize my team, make sure everyone got their playing time and also be the main coach / strategist.  If you've never coached a team, it is a fun experience but is very mentally draining.

On my Wednesday/Thursday night league, I was not a captain.  But the league was fairly competitive and I had to focus and play hard all the night.  The guys were stronger and faster than my Monday night league.  The intensity level was definitely high.

Additionally, there were other factors.  The leagues were held about 30 miles away from home so I had to commute for the better part of three months to just play in the league.  I also served as an official a lot in both leagues.  I also volunteered as the league's Facebook coordinator so I was regularly posting updates and photos among other things.

Add it all up and I was glad for the season to end a couple of weeks ago.

As i look at my calendar now, the summer is here and there are two summer leagues on the horizon.  One is starting on weekend June 7th and the other one starts a week or two after.  I'm definitely the captain / coach of the team that is playing on the weekend of June 7th.  I'm undecided if I will captain / coach in the other league.

People who know me will be shocked to hear this, but I wish I had a long basketball break.   The spring league lasted for three months.  I played 20 total games and was involved in so many other things that a mental break would be nice.

Alas, there is no rest of the weary.  I'll get as much rest as I can between now and June 7th and get ready to roll into the summer leagues.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Your Actions Speak Louder Than Words.....And Sometimes They Say The Wrong Things!

As with most Saturdays, I met up with some guy friends for some pick up basketball.  We had 8 guys and so we engaged in some 4-on-4 half court action.  My team was struggling lost the first three games.  At some point during the fourth game, I noticed one of the other guys was being a little aggressive with me.   After some more action, it became obvious something had set the guy off.

After playing the fourth game and the fifth game and calling it quits as it was getting late,  I talked to the other guy.  The other guy expressed his opinion that I was being too aggressive and physical and he got pissed.   There was some question about a play where I came down with my elbows on him.  Some people questioned whether it was intentional or not.  I personally did not think so but I can't argue the action that was done.

This post isn't to defend myself.  It was an interesting experience to go through and learn from.  Here's why:

No matter what we do (whether it's basketball or other things), there are times where people interpret actions differently than you envisioned.   The biggest lesson here is not to get defensive and LISTEN.  As hard as it is to do, there is a teaching moment for everyone.  We all do things out of habit and reflexively.  Maybe out of habit, I did a few of the things I was told.  I don't know if it's usually a problem but obviously it was today.  We talked about things like men, I apologized and we'll all move on.

On the other hand, I've also been on the receiving end of a few things.  For example, during my spring basketball league, I was being guarded by a young 20-something kid.  I had scored 20 points the game before against other team.  The young kid was assigned to pester me and throw me off my game.

Well, it must have succeeded as I had a crappy game.  But at one point, I got frustrated because the young kid was hand checking and hip checking me throughout.  At one point, I told him to stop or I would start hitting back a little bit.  Now, I knew the young kid and he doesn't do these things intentionally.  We were cool after the game as well.  In the heat of the moment, you obviously say or do things that come off the wrong way.

Basketball is just a game and we shouldn't take it too seriously.    Of course, there is always pride involved and sometimes competition brings out the worst in us.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Equal Opportunity Championships

Recently, both of my spring adult league basketball teams won their respective league championships.  I wasn't really expecting this to happen so it was a pleasant surprise.  In total, I have played on EIGHT teams that have championships over the years.

In winning the championships, I updated a picture collage to reflect the two championship teams I was part of this season.  A friend of mine commented that "I was the Robert Horry of recreation basketball".

I know the friend was joking around but this got me to thinking about something.  Unlike the NBA (or other professional basketball leagues), recreational basketball leagues get plenty of chances to win league and/or tournament championships throughout the year.  NBA players get ONE chance to win each season.  If they don't win, they have to wait until next season.

For me, winning two championships in the span of a week is a first and a pretty rare thing for me.  All of my previous championships were very spread out.  But there are players that play in many leagues that could win multiple championships like I did.

My main point is that my eight championships isn't really all that unusual in recreation basketball.  There are just so many leagues / tournaments that you could win more "championships" in one year than some NBA players get in their careers.

All of this being said, sometimes the pursuit of a recreation basketball league or tournament championship can cause players to act irrationally.  They get frustrated at teammates, referees or their own play.   I hope to encourage players to remember a few things:

If you don't win this season, another season is around the corner pretty quickly.  You'll get another opportunity again very quickly.

Even if you win, you are not winning a "ring" like professional players.  If you're lucky, you'll get a t-shirt.  If you're REALLY LUCKY, the organizers might give you a team award or even individual awards.  For me, out of my eight championship teams, I have one t-shirt that reflects me winning anything.  The rest are just photos that I took.

Lastly, never compare your experience to others.  I've got a lot of differing memories of my various championships.  Some of them are hugely positive and some of them are not so positive.    However, if you're only won one championship and the experience was a super great one, then more power to you. No point in comparing yourself to someone else who has more.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Connections That Last For A Lifetime

Last night, my Monday night basketball league completed it's 2013 spring season with the championship game.  My team was fortunate enough to be playing in the game.  Even more fortunate, my team was able to WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP 66-61.

In looking back, my team had an improbable run.  My team had plenty of potential and chemistry but we only won one out of first five games.   I was forced to make some adjustments and fortunately things worked out.  My team gelled and won it's final give games of the season including the championship.

I'm extremely proud of my team.  We had seven players, five of whom had played in our league before.  We had two new players including one guy who had never played league basketball before.  The other new player was a girl.   She was real small of stature but she is baller and tough as nails.   We had to work hard at our chemistry but everyone played their roles and contributed to the championship win.

While my team's win didn't bring us any trophies or anything like that, I find that it brings lasting memories and connections for all of the players involved.  While I am not close friends with all of my teammates, going through our journey this season will forever bind us.   I don't know how much I will see this particular group of players in the future.  However, anytime I do see them, this championship will be something we can reminisce about for years to come.

Really, this holds true for all of the teams in our league.  All five of the teams finished with a 4-4 record.  Instead of randomly eliminating one of the teams from playoffs, all teams were invited.  It was a first in the league to have this happen.  This made for a exciting playoff and championship games.  So while my team earns the "champion" title, every team in the league had something to be proud of.