It had been a good hour and a half of half-assing it on the exercise machines, and after a 3 minute powerwalk on the treadmill, I felt I had earned it. It is the sacred 15 minutes I take every day after I complete my workout routine at our local YMCA. I felt I had earned 15 minutes of clanks and missed layups that bounce off the rim and hit me in the nose (oh yes, it happens). I look forward to shooting 20% from the field and airballing shots in the paint. But today-today was different.
It rained steadily outside, the drops putting against the windows of our basketball court in rythm, like a crowd of eager college basketball fanatics stoking themselves up for the game of the year by leaping up and down like jumping beans on the bleachers. I advanced to the ballrack, where I selected a Baden that was bouncing especially well. I advanced to the court, drawing little fanfare from the spectators at hand. Three men, all no more than 40, but none no less than 30, were shooting around amongst themselves. On many other days when I 'ball', their shots are crisp and rarely miss. Yet today, nothing was falling for them. Two younger boys, about 7 and 11 respectively, dribbled around lazily, just working to pass the time before their soccer moms arrived to take them back home for Spongebob at 5:00. But there was a sense that something was happening as I stepped up to take my first shot. Something was in the air. Today...was different.
I was feeling ballsy. I advanced to the left side of the court, and sized up a solid 22 footer from outside the arc. I sized up the hoop, took a look at my feet, checked the windspeed. I stepped up, and let it fly, my right hand thrusting it through the air. A more perfect shot has nary been seen. The twine was tickled...this was not right. Yet, the spectators did not take notice. People make 22-footers all the time, it is by no means unheard of for a 15-year old to step up and make that shot, even if he is whiter than Jim Gaffigan and Chris Kattan combined. Luck happens. But today was different.
The ball came back to me on it's own, in retrospect I realize the ball may have been possessed by some otherwordly force, and I advanced to the top of the arc. I was starting to feel it. Step up, nail it. Bangedy bangedy boom. The thirtysomethings looked up, with looks of mild surprise on their faces, before returning to their layups and free throws. The kids were starting to think something was up. Again, the ball comes back to me, but now I know God is on my side. I backpeddle to half-court, size up my shot, and just go for it. I take two steps and push-the ball floats through the air, and now everyone is looking. And they know, now, more than ever, that today-today is different.
Bam. In. No backboard neccessarry. The oldest of the group just leaves his mouth ajar. One of the kids asked me if I had called my shot. I'm on. From then on, it's 'Get the rock to whitey.' I must've shot 50% from beyond three for the rest of the day. I'm like the kids in Flubber. At one point, I miss to 20 footers in a row. So, I proceed to the left side of the court, step behind the backboard and am out of bounds, and heave one. And-yeah, that's right-it goes in. I'm borderline amphibian, I'm so cold-blooded today.
Tomorrow, I'll play basketball again. And you know what? I'm sure at least 5 shots will bounce perfectly off the backboard and hit me in the forehead. But, you know something-I don't care. I don't care. Because today was different, and I'll always have today.