For some reason, our basketball night got switched.
Last winter, Tuesday night was basketball night. For the last several weeks, however, Wednesday night has become basketball night.
I don’t know the exact reason for this change, but Wednesday somehow seems to fit everyone’s schedule better recently. It may be nothing more than the fact that many churches suspend Wednesday night services in the summer, making Wednesday nights available right now.
Basketball is my favorite sport, and the one I am best at. I still have my shooting eye and I still have my jump shot.
In high school and junior high school, basketball was my life. It was the most important thing for me, more important than my family or my schoolwork or anything else.
The last official basketball game I played was an unexpected loss in the Oklahoma high school regional finals. My team had been heavily favored to win that game, and we lost it in the final two minutes. We were better than the other team, but at the end of the game we lost our nerve. We started playing in order not to lose, not in order to win.
I was devastated at the time, but my devastation ended the following Monday morning. When I work up that Monday morning, I realized that basketball was now behind me permanently and that I needed to move forward with more important things. I have never looked back.
I still love to play and I play as often as possible, but I now play for enjoyment. I don’t play in order to win.
Andrew plays basketball for enjoyment, too, but two of the guys we play basketball with play in order to win. Everyone knows this and those two guys are always placed on opposing teams and they are matched up against each other. We have to do this or the games will not be fun for everybody else.
There is no sport I play now to win. Everything I play now is for fun.
The same is true of Andrew, except that he plays tennis to win. Tennis is Andrew’s serious game, and he devotes his full energies and attention to winning at tennis.
I never play tennis with Andrew because he is too good for me and it is no fun for him to play against me. He can wipe the court with me if he wants to, and I’m a pretty fair player. He can run me ragged all over the court with pinpoint shots and serve me off the court and return my serve with winner after winner.
Andrew now only plays tennis during the week and he plays downtown very early in the morning or at lunchtime. He plays with two other guys who can play at his level. He generally plays each guy once a week, and those two guys play each other once a week.
For fun, Andrew and I also play handball and racquetball, but we really don’t play anything else. We don’t have time to play soccer or rugby or softball, too.
Unlike Andrew, his brothers are very competitive and they always play EVERYTHING to win. They play handball and racquetball and basketball to win.
They also play monopoly and checkers and canasta to win. They are very competitive in everything.
When Andrew plays anything against his brothers, he never plays to win but he always plays just well enough to keep things interesting. This is something that must have been worked out long ago, when the three brothers were kids.
Andrew and his brothers are very close and they have a deep understanding of one another. They do not even need to talk to communicate with each other. A quick glance at each other is all they need to communicate.
Andrew and his brothers can go for hours without talking and yet they are aware of what each other is thinking and feeling.
I have watched them watch basketball games together, and I can observe them communicate with each other with quick glances and nods. For instance, they do not need to talk in order to settle on which particular ESPN basketball game to watch. A couple of glances back and forth is all they need.
Andrew and his brothers also often communicate in monosyllables. A series of “yeah” and “sure” and “OK” is all they need to carry on a full conversation that is meaningful to them. It may not be meaningful to me or anyone else, but it is meaningful to them.
I never had that with my brother and sister, probably because I am six and seven years older than my full siblings. The age difference was too great for us to develop the kind of bond Andrew and his brothers have.
I’m not jealous of that bond because it is so special and because I can see that it is so special. What Andrew and his brothers have is a great and beautiful gift, and I would never want to take that away from them or interfere with it in any way.
Andrew is very special and his brothers are very special and they have welcomed me into their lives. That makes me feel special, too.