O Basketball

It was a rather spontaneous decision last night to lace up and ball after dinner. I was just chilling and digesting when I heard my brother was going to shoot some hoops at the local high school. I was planning on going jogging at night, since exercising in the morning has been quite difficult to keep up, what with my getting less than 7 hours of sleep every single night for the past, I dunno, month or so. Anyhoo, basketball has always been more fun than jogging.

So off we go to a local court. We shot around, and naturally I sucked, even more so than I used to. We had a few pickup games. When the night was over I’d shot more airballs in this single hour than I had over the last two years. Of course I haven’t really been playing basketball lately. I can’t even remember the last time I played when I wasn’t visiting/being visited by a high school buddy. In between I’d played more ball on American soil (two, three times) than I have on TW soil (once, maybe). I’d forgotten how good of a stress relief it was. There’s something about exerting yourself in a meaningful way that makes my brain feel like it’s all better. I’d been working out on a somewhat regular basis, but it doesn’t do the same thing in my brain.

I woke up this morning replaying moments from last night (you know, like people do after a good date). I’m sore all over (you know, like people are after a good date). The extent of my soreness reminds me that playing basketball is indeed a full body workout. And that’s an awesome thing. On the court, I don’t have to consciously push myself to my limits like when I lift weights, it happens naturally because I’m reacting to the competition. In the end it’s an effective workout without ever crossing into tedium for me. I’m physically tired but refreshed. The blood rushing to and from my muscles seemed to have carried away more than metabolic waste. It’s a fucking miracle drug man, I don’t know how I waned myself off it the last couple of years.

I think part of the power of stress relief of playing basketball is mental. When you’re on the court, you leave everything behind, if only for a moment. Unlike jogging or biking when you can clear your mind and reflect upon all of life’s important questions (or just think about boobs), on the blacktop, you’re focused on the ball, on where your teammates are, on whether you should take the charge when a big sweaty guy is barreling down the lane. Your mind is occupied with imagery of your next move (if you’ve seen Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows, you know what I mean). Jab step to the right, pull back, ball fake, drive left hard, jump stop, hook shot with a high arc. How much of that gets actually executed as planned is a different story, but at least for that brief moment in your head, you can see yourself being Kobe Bryant. If you happen to don LeBron James’s jersey, you can pretend even longer despite your protruding gut. For all the benefits of basketball, I think I have to go back to playing more, not only to eradicate said gut, but for the stress relief as well. And goddamn it I need that stress relief.



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