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A hoop fan's roots: Veni, Vidi, Vici...

Akash Shanker
CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 28 Feb 2013, 20:51 IST

“Beat L.A.” The crowd chanted on at the Boston Gardens. Lakers and Celtics dribbled past each other hooping the ball, trying to shoulder their way through to victory. All the tensions, the strategies, the cup of glory shifting grasps from one minute to the next.

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

“Be L.A.” the supporters screamed at the end of the game.

I introduced myself to basketball. Some say it is just a game , I would say it is a purpose of life.

It is fascinating to see the game ascend the steep steps of success and popularity from a high school gym, to every alley, to every dusty plain and young hearts of the world.

Basketball flashes ahead at swirling speed, it pivots about your life. A fanatic follower may simply term it as a dope, I would say it is somewhat a totemic grant of increased personal mojo. The thumping crashes onto the maple wood floor, there is something in the pace of the game or maybe I might just be in love with the perspiration. The chanting crowd is synonymous to the blues and jazz music, soothing your mind. Ironic it is, as it gives us those few moments when your muscle are cut deep, one is hurt to their bones and still your heart and mind is at peace, idiosyncratic and perplexing in nature. I suspect a bellow of fire in my heart, the riffs of a rhapsody, analogous to what you feel when you see the recap of a Willis Reeds limping past his pain and injuries out of the tunnel at Madison Gardens before Game 7 of 1970 NBA finals, there is a blitz, a surge of adrenaline, and the words “Here comes Willis!” replays in your head.

“When it is played the way it is supposed to be played, basketball happens in the air, flying, floating, elevated, above the floor, levitating the way oppressed people of the earth imagine themselves in their dreams.”

Basketball is celebrated as “pure because of it’s a product of the player’s will and imagination. If the desire cools down, there is no game.”

Basketball is said to be a veil, in the name of sport, veils the fact that the game is definitely larger than life. How strange is it to see the large men and women who in general would give us a picture of monstrous beings, but their inner self and child-like behavior reflects in every move and statement they make. Shaquille O’ Neal the NBA star is he is the funniest or should we just say no one can do what Shaq did. He was big , he was funny and he was something that the social media could term as a killer combination.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

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“So I was in a bathroom taking a [blank] when Rick Adelman comes on and…”, he then took a shot at the then-Sacremento Kings Coach for complaining against the refereeing in the just concluded Western Conference finals. He just had us at, “So I was in the bathroom.”

Magic Johnson said there would never be another Larry Bird , some again said no one could do what Jordan did, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are next on line, and even the Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Sky Hook shot was subjected to such ridiculous comments. But I would still love to phrase “basketball gifts what no other sports can.”

We gape at the electronic screens running over the statistics, ‘Air Jordan’ , 5 MVP awards, 6 NBA Finals MVP and 3 steal titles, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, 38387 points, 6 MVP awards. And we keep wondering whom to support and for whom we should side for. We pivot about time and our heroes from, the time matches were shown in black and white to the time we see the champions of the games in their colourful jersey celebrating silhouetted by the clock stuck at 00:00 and there is a sense of jubilation within us, a sense of triumph and sense of victory when we hold our breathe and our tired eyes through are pale faces are stuck onto the screen as Oscar Robertson flies on his heels, we celebrated every layup they take, every ally-oop they make. Every time there is a fast break, every time they curve their hand in the air, every time they jump 2 metres off the floor we grow a pair of wings to soar make us hope with grit and tenacity, develop a will to win, a will to dominate and be the best man on the court.

Basketball is not all about a Dennis Rodman stating, “I couldn’t care less if the guy I’m guarding has HIV. I’m going to slam him anyway.” It is something more than grinding joints, dislocated bones and punctured lungs. It is about accepting life, making the best out of it.

“I think that my God-given physical attributes, big hands, and big feet, the way that I’m built, proportion-wise, just made basketball the most inviting  sport for me to play.” – Julius Irving.

Samuel Jackson mouths it: “Basketball is a privilege.” It is a purpose of life. The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply wouldn’t play “Drop The Handkerchief.”

Michael Jordan

It is how nicely we curve the ball into the hoop, it is how the hoop affects our roots. We just let this particular grace-filled and sometimes exasperating game establish itself within us. Larry Bird simply said, “Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”

Published 28 Feb 2013, 16:39 IST
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