Monday, July 4, 2011

Basketball Goals the Locust Had Eaten

Yesterday my street cred went up with David, and all I had to do was stay up past 3:00 AM and dish out $300 at Academy.  I redeemed a haunting memory from my past; the years that the locust had eaten were restored.  And I got some blog fodder. 

Back in 2005, The M's father bought David a basketball goal.  But eight year old David didn't use it very much, and it was in the way of the lawn mower, and one day I needed to borrow it to build a (you guessed it) wind turbine.  You see, I was working on a project that used a small wind turbine, and I needed a temporary, mobile mounting platform that was fairly tall and the basketball goal was just the ticket.  I removed the backboard and had to cut part of the steel pole to be able to mount the wind turbine, but it worked.  My plan was that after we tested it I could put it back together and weld the steel where it had been cut. I figured David wouldn't mind if his basketball goal was missing for a month or two... or six years.

Writing this now, it really seems absurd.  Abusive almost. What if he tells a therapist about it someday? I'll look like an idiot.

But you know how these things go.  Repairing the goal got put on the back burner, and after a while some pieces got lost, and eventually parts got thrown away.  Still, this wasn't a big deal in my mind, because David didn't really like basketball anyway.  He was all Pokemon and Legos back then.  Every once in a while he would causally mention it to his friends, but in my mind, it was in the past.

David: "Hey dude, want to hang out or something?"
David's Friend: "Yeah, how about we play some basketball?"
David: "Oh sorry, my dad turned my basketball goal into a wind turbine."
David's Friend: "I have no response to that."
[My innovative, if not dangerous, basketball-goal-turned-wind-turbine experiment with Amy and Sarah, 2005. The blades were turning so fast they would easily injure us if we got too close.]

Fast forward to January 2011.  David changes schools to the small charter school Rapoport Academy which, having no football team, heralds its basketball players as the most exalted athletes on campus.  David enrolls for the spring semester, right in the middle of basketball season - and he's 6' 2" in the eighth grade.  He's the tallest kid in the middle school, and taller than most of the adults who work there too. The coach gets all excited and invites him to join the basketball team.

Coach: "Can you play basketball son?"
David: "Well, sorta.  I used to have a basketball goal, but my dad converted it into a..."
Me: "Never mind that!  David will be happy to play on your team!"

During the last six months he has become very interested in basketball, indeed. He played on the school team, and even got invited to play in a summer league for the high school.  He still has a lot to learn, but he is constantly improving.  If only he could practice...  

Oh sure, he can, and does, go down to the elementary school nearby and use their basketball goals.  And sometimes he plays pick up games with characters of questionable reputation down at the YMCA.  But he has been asking for a new basketball goal at the house for months.  

So yesterday, we went to Academy Sports and Outdoors.  I needed some clothes for my upcoming trip to Honduras. Jono needed some water shoes for summer camp.  But the big ticket item was the basketball goal we bought for our teenage Dirk Nowitzki.  After all, I've got to be thinking about college scholarships.  It's an investment, really.

He and I began to assemble it about 10:00 PM in the garage. It was a bit like building a ship in a bottle, and then trying to get it out of the bottle. He and I had a good time putting all the pieces together and I could tell he was excited.  As the construction progressed, so did his enthusiasm.  I loved that we were connecting over this project, so I kept pushing later and later.  Around 2:00 AM we moved the construction into the driveway so we could set up the ladder and make some adjustments.  We rolled it to the curb and set the basket height to 10 feet.  Then we shot baskets by the headlights of the car until after 3:00 AM. He is happy. I am filled up to overflowing with the gratitude of the redeemed.  Two points!
[shooting hoops at 3:00 AM using the car's headlights]

[one of the last touches, putting on the net]

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