Why, yes, I am walking like Ed Asner
Saturday, May 04, 2013 8:00 PM
It's important to be aware of your limitations.
When it comes to playing basketball, trust me, I'm abundantly aware of my limitations.
Short. Slow. Chubby. Can't jump. Can't see (I don't play with my glasses on). Decent handle. OK passer. Streaky shooter. Have trouble creating my own shot, but can stick the J every once in a while, when I get open. I also take at least three (but often more than three) extremely ill-advised shots during the course of any game.
Basically, I've settled into a nice "middle-aged guy who works in an office all week and plays ball occasionally" game. I was named third team all-conference in the SWBR (Slow White Balding Reporter) League. Associate editor Scott J. Bryan is league president and grand poobah.
But, I do love the game. It's a beautiful game. The people's game. Anyone can play, as long as they have a ball and can find a hoop.
Index staff writer Matt Bruce - a Chicago man who somehow found his way down here to God's Country - recently pestered me to join him for some pickup hoops at the outdoor court behind the Greenwood Civic Center/Building That's Just Been Sitting There for Years.
For various reasons - work, weather, my daughter wanting me to stay home and play princess dress-up (I look fabulous in a pink feather boa, by the way) - I hadn't been able to hook up with Bruce for a game.
However, early last week, the skies cleared, and so did our schedules, so we were able to get in some hoops.
Bruce and I were joined by Index sports writer Jordan Anders and staff writer/raconteur/Lakelands Area Sean Hannity Fan Club president Frank Bumb.
Just before I walked out of the house to head to the court, my wife gave me a once over. I was rocking my weathered Air Jordan sneakers, oversized shorts and Lakers No. 73 Dennis Rodman shirt.
"Yeah, don't hurt yourself," my wife said, with a look that said, "You're definitely going to hurt yourself."
"Hurt myself?" I thought. "Please. I've got this."
IF YOU'VE EVER VENTURED to the outdoor basketball court behind the Greenwood Civic Center/Building That's Just Been Sitting There For Years on a nice, warm evening, you know the court can get rather full.
It's not uncommon for both hoops to be occupied with half-court games, with guys typically running 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 contests on each end. Groups of friends end up meshing with guys they've never met to make teams. Winning team stays on the court, losers have to wait their turn or form up a different team and try to take down the winners.
Team Index-Journal - for the most part - acquitted itself rather nicely in this Lord of the Flies-style hoops format.
Matt Bruce is a left-handed big man with a soft touch around the basket. Much like his writing, his game is full of flair and unexpected touches. If you're cutting to the hoop, be ready, because he'll whistle a no-look pass your way.
Meanwhile, Anders is a shooter. A North Carolina native and unfortunate NASCAR fan, Anders is the prototypical b-ball hustler: Despite playing in a Batman T-shirt and glasses, he can knock down a jumper from anywhere on the court. We even nicknamed him Billy Hoyle, after Woody Harrelson's character in "White Man Can't Jump."And then there's Frank Bumb.
Frank is a fine young reporter. He does good work. But watching him play basketball will make your eyes bleed. Seriously. When he drives to the hoop and flings the ball at the backboard, it's like watching a Shetland pony try to have sex with an HVAC unit.
The Index-Journal boys played with several other guys who were at the court that evening and, fortunately, I never ended up on Bumb's team during any of the games. I can add that to the list of things I've skillfully avoided in recent years, like the last "Twilight" movie and covering District 50 school board meetings.
NOW, IF THERE IS ANYTHING more amusing than watching some out of shape reporters play basketball with younger guys, it's watching them try to walk around afterward, especially the next day.
A few hours after playing ball last week, Anders sent me message: "I'm totally gonna have to scrape myself off my mattress in the morning."
Meanwhile, a text message I received from Bruce was more succinct: "Can't ... move ..."
As for myself, I tweaked my right calf (or something near my right calf, I never paid attention in science class) early on and limped my way through two hours of basketball.
When I got home that night and dragged my leg up the front sidewalk, my wife gave me a smile and a "I knew you were going to hurt yourself" look. She knows me well.
I spent most of the next day walking with the speed and grace of 83-year-old actor Ed Asner. In fact, I'm fairly certain Asner could have beaten me in a footrace that next day.
On Tuesday night, I covered a Greenwood County Council committee meeting. Councilman Bob Fisher noticed I was walking like one of the zombies in "Night of the Living Dead." He asked why I was moving so slow.
"Played basketball out at the civic center court last night," I said.
"You know, you're getting too old for that," Fisher said with a laugh.
He might be right. But, I don't think I'll be heeding his advice any time soon. Spring is here, summer is on the way and I'm sure I'll be lacing my sneakers up every once in a while. If there is an ill-advised jumper to be taken, I'll be ready.
Besides, I need every opportunity I can get to work on my Ed Asner impression.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.