Basketball has always acted as a sort of microcosm of my life. It’s a barometer, each performance acting as a proclamation on how I am living my life.
Since returning to Shreveport, I’ve joined a few recreational leagues, and I play competitively in organized games (when I have time).
At first, the itch to get back on the court was purely mechanical: I needed to get back in shape. That’s what I told myself at least.
The more I played, the more I realized how important it is to be a part of a team.
I learned this lesson at a very young age, and the effects continue to resonate in my life every day.
People ask me, “When did you start playing basketball?”
I can’t remember ever not playing.
It wasn’t forced on me, but my father certainly had ideas for how he wanted to raise me.
There were times when I resented him for making me suit up for football practice.
There were times when I was so unbelievably bored by baseball that I thought it might actually kill me to stand in the outfield for one more second.
I never knew why he was so adamant about me playing sports.
It never really clicked until very recently.
My accomplishments in high school and college on the court meant the world to me. Still, why had I spent the majority of my life running around with a ball? Why didn’t they encourage me to learn something I could use, you know, like playing piano?
Getting back on the court this season in my SPAR league, I started to realize.
First, playing on a team is cool. It’s a way to socialize in an age where most of us are stuck to our screens.
Winning is even more fun, and my team has been very good this season.
Performing and doing what I’m good at (while people come and watch, believe it or not) is invigorating.
Are those reasons enough for me to make basketball the center of my life? Not quite.
In fact, it was off the court when I realized the importance of sports.
I was trying to make music with a friend. This guy is a virtuoso, one of the most talented musicians I know. He’s never played organized sports.
His inability to communicate or blend into the collective stuck out at me.
It’s when I realized why our parents stick us on sports teams at a young age. It’s why I continue to crave being a part of a team.
Team sports, as silly as they sometimes may seem, teach us how to work together to achieve our goals. They teach us how to communicate, encourage and manage egos.
On a secondary level, sports have helped me with public speaking, humility and managing my expectations.
In my career, I have been on plenty of bad teams and a few good ones. I learned the most from being on the bad teams.
It’s just like in life, we usually learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.
Look, the reason I play is because I like it.
Because I’m good at it.
Because it gets me excited, and I truly like to perform in front of people.
The value of spending most of my life on a basketball court can’t be measured.
But, when I take a step back to look at how I interact with people, I see what being a part of a team my whole life has done for me.
My basketball career has taken me to Duke University for basketball camp and meeting Coach K, to being the team captain at LA Tech and playing with some of the best players in the world, to playing overseas and now back to playing in rec leagues in my hometown.
As basketball players go, I’m leaning toward being over-the-hill as I approach age 33.
All of the things I’ve done have led me to finally see the value in it all.
It has made me a better communicator.
There is always value in playing sports. Always.