MY LOVE OF THE GAME OF BASKETBALL.
My story for my love of basketball is a simple one. It's a story of OBSESSION. A story of love and passion. In many ways, basketball adopted me at an early age. It's been a safe haven for me for as long as I can remember. Sometimes operating as an "emotional crutch." Allowing me to escape from some of the pain I experienced growing up. As I get older, I re-calibrated my relationship with the game. I am proud to say I can enjoy it in its purest form now. As a child and adolescent, I often leaned on the game when my personal issues became overwhelming.
I would pick up a basketball and head to the nearest park or gym. It didn't matter if games were going on or not. Sometimes I would prefer the empty gym. Just the sound of the ball and my sneakers on the court. If I close my eyes, I can always feel those sensations no matter what I'm doing. I'm sure this relationship with the game is not an uncommon one. I've seen basketball grow over the years into arguably the number-one sport in the world. I know it's also too familiar for youth to deal with poverty, depression, drug violence, etc. I have personally met dozens of people on the court who have shared a similar dynamic with the game. These men and women share the LOVE of the game, similar to mine. Weirdly, it's given me a family outside my home that is closer to me than blood. Not to get me wrong, not everything on the hardwood is rainbows and hugs. It gets competitive. It gets nasty. With that being said, more often than not, once the game is done, there is undoubtedly a bond created within the spirit of the game. I have met LIFELONG friends through the game. I never see or hear from most of the people I went to school with, but guys I've hooped with over 20 years ago, I have seen grow into family men/women.
As I got older, my basketball "network" continued to grow. Multiple job opportunities have arisen simply because somebody liked how I played the game and carried myself. No joke. I would say basketball has a lifelong "fraternity."The game has allowed me to rub shoulders with doctors, bankers, business owners, etc. As a mutual interest, basketball has acted as a "matchmaker" for me. Putting me into rooms and conversations with people I would never have had access to. I owe a lot to the game of basketball. In many ways, it raised me. Although I had a father for the first 15 years of my life, he was a man of few words and even less patience. Even as my little league basketball coach, he would have me sitting at the end of the bench in favor of the better players. As a coach, you can't blame him. After all, it taught me the value of talent and hard work. Seeing my peers playing the game I loved with more success hurt, but it was not in vain. Although, as a father myself, he dropped the ball in this specific instance. Instead of taking the opportunity to build confidence in his only son, he prioritized winning. At all costs. Even if it was a junior rec league. So early on, I turned to my basketball heroes. The likes of Jason (white chocolate) Williams, who taught me swagger. Allen "The Answer" Iverson taught me heart. Most influential of all and who embodied the perfect competitor. Kobe "The black mamba" Bryant.
He was my favorite player when he came into the league. 1996 I was 8 years old, like the number on his jersey. It was Shaq's team, but I knew it was only a matter of time until it became the Kobe Show. I studied Kobe in all aspects of the word. This was before the internet, so Magazine articles, Newspaper clippings, and any media I could find. His style of play all the way to how he answered questions. The way Kobe looked up to Mike (Jordan), I looked up to him. At 15, I lost my father to a terminal illness. That year my obsession with the game grew. My home life became unstable, and family members living on the streets addicted to drugs and alcohol started staying with us. I can still smell the smell of piss-stained clothing, dirty socks, and alcohol that filled our tiny 2 bedroom apartment. My mom tried her best to maintain the peace, but it was futile. Too many personality disorders and drug addiction, not to mention all the pain and anger that filled the place. So I did what I knew best. Grabbed my basketball and ran. I spent all day on the courts, as much as my body could. Anything to keep me away from that house. Without my father acting as a shield, my home life became unbearable. My obsession with the game grew 10 fold. I dove deeper. SLAM magazine became my bible. The courts, my church. Laker games, my sermons, and Kobe, the preacher. Seeing how he played every single game like it was his last.
Brought a semblance of peace into my life. He made me care as much as he did. Possession by possession, I observed. Even when he didn't have the ball. Picking up how he talked to opposing players, refs, coaches, and teammates. Listening to post-game interviews for information on how to play and approach the game we both loved so dearly. I wasn't only trying to pick up basketball tips, though. As crazy as it sounds, I was also trying to learn how to become a man. With no positive male influences, I used Kobe as a muse. That's what this game has done for countless people, including myself. It can provide hope, direction, and purpose. Besides my wife and kids, the game of basketball has given me the most joy in this life. That's why I started GOODWORKSWORLD. Eventually, it will be a basketball community and a global community for anyone who needs a friend, brother/sister, coach, or teammate in the game of life.