Pick-Up Basketball Retirement Notice

Effective in 2019, “The Juggernaut” is retiring from all pick up basketball games. In the past year, I discovered the following about myself:

My first step is gone,

My hops are gone,

My muscular stature is now working against me,

My Achilles are tight,

My hamstrings hate me,

Ibuprofen is my friend,

My mind is telling me yes, but my body (my body) is telling me noooooooo,

I am always the oldest guy on the court,

I am still wearing And1’s and partying like it’s 1999,

I regret my decision to play every morning for the next four days afterward,

People now say, “Oh you are still playing, good for you!“

My wife shakes her head in disgust as I can no longer hide my soreness/injury from her.

Streetball has been good to me for the past 38 years. But, year 39 has been hell. So, goodbye old friend. I am letting go and putting myself out to pasture to heal.

The Gift of Failure

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling

2018-04-07 10.48.48

A couple of weeks ago, you tried out for an AAU elite travel team. Now, you already how much I absolutely detest AAU teams – although, I’ll admit, it has allowed me to see some awesome locations, meet wonderful people, and play against some of the most talented basketball players to ever walk on a court. The problem is, I have also witnessed the dark side of elite basketball — but, I won’t get into that now; that is for another time.

Honestly, Honey, as we wait for this letter to come in the mail, I keep hoping we receive bad news.

I honestly hope you don’t make the team.

Bear with me…

Listen, I may be a little biased, but whenever you walk into the gym, you are the best player there. You have the size, you have the speed, you can shoot, you can use your left hand, and you have the drive. But, more than anything, you have fun, you are social, you are humble, and you are smart; and that is what I love (and will continue to love) most about your game. I am proud of you every time you step out on the court because I know your competitiveness will compel you to make the most of your abilities as well as make your teammates better. Yes, I will admit, as your coach, when your team falls short — or when you have a terrible game, I am upset. I am upset until I look over at you, joking and laughing with your teammates as if you guys don’t have a care in the world. Basketball is just a game to you; you know you are good at it, but you are there to have fun and socialize.

That being said…

If you are selected for an elite AAU team, there is a whole new dynamic to consider…

Winning.

Man, o’ man. Little girl, you will be expected to win. Not only will you be expected to show up to a tournament and produce, but, when you do not produce, you will sit the bench until you are able to produce (which could be a while dependent on if your replacement has a hot hand). You will need to practice your craft on your own time — no excuses! It does not matter if you are the best player on any given day; you need to be the best player on that specific day. The expectation is for you to show up to a tournament, hours away from your home, and claw and scratch your way to a championship. Period.

Look, I am not here to bash AAU or crush your dream, but, my job as your father is to protect you. That job requires me to deem what is, and is not, appropriate for you given your age and maturity level, whether that be cell phones, music, movies, boys, and yes, basketball. And frankly, right now, I don’t think you are ready.

Is there a side of me that wants you to make it? Yes! But I have come to realize that it is the part of me that is selfish, self-serving, and competitive. Of course I want to show everybody that I produce the best of the best. But that is not right.

So, here’s to you staying young, having fun, and not making the team.

2018-03-30 20.50.06-2

———————————————————————————————————————————-

For the record:

Weeks later, I found out that you, in fact, did not make it…

“Unfortunately, She was not selected for our 6th grade team.  We had so many girls at that level trying out this year and looked at each one very carefully before making our decision. 

We highly encourage your daughter to try out again next October.

Thank you.”

Okay. Now, let’s make them regret that decision…

Father of the Year Moment #264: The Classics are Always Better

*My eldest, thinking she is big shit after beating Super Mario Brothers Wii…

Me: Let’s see how great you are with the original Mario Brothers…

*Pandemonium ensues:

You have to go one at a time?

Wait, 3 lives and you start over?

I have to do all of that again?

Wait, you can’t go backwards?

What are the other powers (there are none)?

There is no ice power?

You can’t fly?

Why is he so blocky?

How’d you get in that secret area?

How do you know all this?

What the heck! Why did the mushroom go the other way?

I don’t like this.

10 Things That I Have Learned From Coaching My Daughter’s Youth Girls’ Basketball Teams

  1. The girls team game seems to be more organized: In between games in any particular tournament, I get to watch some of the youth boys play. My, oh, my – it is impressive how many fouls occur in one half. When a person goes up for a lay-up, it sounds like a round of applause.
  2. Parents will cheer extra loud as a way to intimidate your team: This is extremely annoying. Parents who do this end up with a reputation. As you are reading this, at least two parents came to mind, didn’t they?
  3. You have to be very versatile in your coaching: There is definitely a fine line between pushing your athletes to be better and being overbearing. Some players need to be poked with a stick, while others need constant, polite encouragement. Know the difference! There is nothing worse than a girl crying while she is running up and down the court. Yup, you look like an asshole.
  4. Not everybody follows the tournament rules: If the tournament rules say “no zone defense”, then you probably shouldn’t have your tallest player(s) standing in the paint – that is not the definition of help defense. It is youth basketball. You’re an asshole.
  5. Poor, poor, referees: Although some are terrible (there’s no denying that), it does not give you a reason to yell or belittle them. Look, I was a ref, and I know first-hand that there is no “winning” for them. They go home with minimal pay and no trophy to show for it. There is a reason why there are not enough of them to go around. Either as a parent, or as a coach, try shaking their hand and telling them thank you after every game – no matter the outcome.
  6. Some teams choose not to develop all of their players: In high school constantly played summer high school basketball tournaments against teams who where ranked in the USA Today Top 25 (this was in 1998, before ESPN and MaxPreps showcased all of them). A common theme among a lot of those teams is that some players where way more developed than others, which, to me was sad, because those under-performing players were only glad just to be on a great team. The same happens in youth basketball; just because you have an athlete who is a 5’11” fifth-grade beast in the post now, does not mean that she will be the tallest person on the court when she is in high school. If she stops growing (and has minimal ball-handling skills), backing her opponents down in the post for a layup will not be much of an option.
  7. The most aggressive girls usually win: This does not mean that your girls have to fight, cheat, or be dirty to win. But they do have to have a “never back down,” “never say die attitude.” If you have a group that isn’t afraid to get on the ground and mess up their uniforms, consider yourself extremely fortunate.
  8. Always remember the social aspect: For the most part, it’s true – girls just want to have fun. If they are not having fun, they will usually quit the sport sometime around sixth grade.
  9. Be careful about scheduling games: There are so many tournaments out there (damn near 3 to 5 per week). If you are not careful, you could end up playing in a tournament every week from December until June. And with each tournament having a three-game minimum, you team could end up with a rigid NBA schedule. Yikes!
  10. Go with the hand you are dealt: Sure, you can recruit the best of the best in your neighborhood or city, but there is something about playing with the team you got. You will go through your bumps and bruises, but you will end up with a great return on your investment.

2018-04-07-14-25-13.jpg

Bonus – Eater beware: Travel squad itself can be spendy venture,  but the concession stands are enough to break the bank. There are plenty of cheap meal options when you are in a well-populated city, but if the venue is in the middle of nowhere, pack your lunch.

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