From a Chris Ballard story that was in Sports Illustrated a few months ago:
Next month my father turns 71, and by all measures medical and practical he shouldn’t be playing basketball. Six years ago he had both knees replaced, the eroded cartilage switched out for titanium joints. Doctors told him never to run again. Then last year his right shoulder—his shooting shoulder—started to go. Inflammation, the doc said. It’s therapy or surgery.
For many people Phil’s age that would have been that. Time to retire the rec specs, hone the putting stroke, buy some Rockports. But of course giving up a game isn’t merely giving up a game. My dad grew up in Indiana, where a jump shot is required as proof of citizenship. His father played semipro ball, teaching Phil how to start his shot low and release it high, launching J’s as if out of a shower stall. Dad continued to play through school, then through the long days and short nights of parenthood and medical residency, sneaking out for lunchtime games of pickup.
For my older brother and me, hoops was the language of family. We never “talked it out” with Dad, a laconic, humble Midwesterner who can make a 45-minute drive in near silence feel comfortable. His idea of a heart-to-heart was preaching the prudence of bounce passes; our dialogue came in games of three-on-three on our makeshift backyard court, Phil taking it to the other dads. We spent countless twilight hours playing H-O-R-S-E at the park, and often the only sound was the hiss of the ball and the shiiing! of its arrival into the metal net. Who needed words—wasn’t the meaning clear?
[...]So why keep playing? Dad doesn’t talk about it, but I have an idea. Jack Kirk, who ran marathons well into his 90s, once said, “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running,” and surely this is part of the reason. There’s the joy of competition, too, but there’s something else. When I asked my mom what playing basketball means to Phil, she didn’t hesitate: “With his boys? How about everything.”
It’s a good article, and I’d recommend clicking on the link above and reading the full thing.
If that didn’t get ya nostalgic and “aww”ing, how’s about this current story on Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade? Forget the free agency hoopla of him and LeBron being wooed by every team out there, ‘cuz this weekend he definately is.
even with the possibility of a $127 million contract awaiting and an ongoing quest to lure another superstar to join him and the Heat for next season and beyond, Wade spends most of his time right now fussing over his kids, trying to rebuild relationships that were damaged by the failure of their parents’ marriage.
Yes, for the former NBA scoring champion, this Father’s Day is far bigger than the looming Free Agent Day.
“You go through a whole season, even the last two seasons and feel incomplete in a way no matter what kind of success you have, because you don’t have the most important thing to you with you,” Wade said in a telephone interview. “My boys. To be able to have this relationship with them as I have since this summer hit, it’s been probably the best feeling I’ve had since winning the championship.”
Wade doesn’t always speak about the emotional strains that came as a byproduct of the divorce proceedings between himself and the former Siohvaughn Funches, his high school and college sweetheart.
Custody arrangements have been often strained, the divorce trial still hasn’t happened — delayed numerous times by his estranged wife changing attorneys. This month, a Chicago court awarded temporary custody to Wade, citing “continual interference” by his wife when it’s his turn to have the kids. Meanwhile, Mrs. Wade has asserted in court filings that the Heat star is not a worthy father.
So Wade is taking some steps to further prove his commitment as a dad to the court.
This summer, amid all the free agency hubbub, Wade is taking parenting classes — just to ensure no missteps with the boys.
“I have been out of their everyday lives for the last three years,” Wade said. “I understand my parenting ways aren’t as much as someone who’s around them 80 percent of the time. I understand I have things to catch up on. I will get better at it. If I learn one thing, I’ll feel accomplished.”