Old Man Hoops: Games 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7

Feb 1, 2013 by


Here is the formula for winning a recreational basketball league season championship:

  1. Assemble a group of players you have played with before – either frequent pickup games or in a prior league.  The familiarity and the defined roles are integral to team success.  If you show up for the first game of the season and the first five minutes of your arrival is met with pleasantries and introductions from complete strangers then be prepared for some early season chemistry issues.
  2. Have a big guy who is a relentless rebounder and takes up space in the lane.  He should be at least 6 foot 5 inches tall, weigh no less than 230 pounds, and possess the ability to consistently make two footers.  Lastly, he should be able to fight, or at the very least demonstrate a physical appearance that appears he could.  If shit goes down either on the court or out in the parking lot after the game, it’s helpful if your big man can take out two guys from the opposing team.
  3. You will need a guard who can pressure the ball on defense, handle the ball well, and can stick an open three.
  4. Minimize turnovers.  This is the death of all rec teams.  If you can limit your team turnovers to fewer than twenty per game you will have a shot. (Twenty is low, trust me on that.)
  5. Fill out a roster with seven to eight players only. You will then have a bench for much needed rest and with eight players or less the top players will have significant time on the court.


  1. Assemble a team that boasts talent at every position that is is over and above the league competition.

My team does not do to subscribe to the winning equation from above nor are we loaded with an abundance of talent at every position.  Our won/loss record proves these very points.


Game 3

This was the first game we had a full roster.  More importantly, the first game we had our better players.  By better I mean they played high school basketball and some even played in college.  We win by a margin of thirty points.  We raced out to an immense lead before ten minutes had expired in the first half.  We executed well both offensively and defensively.  We moved the ball extremely well in our half court sets which led to finding the open man for easy buckets all night.  We also ran the fast break with precision, converting their turnovers into layups.  Things are beginning to look up for us and we experienced some new found confidence.

Plus the team we played absolutely sucked.

Game 4  

Second trip down the floor on offensive I went into the lane for an offensive rebound.  I jumped up (barely) and the ball bounced over my outstretched arms.  When I came down I felt a sharp pain shoot up my left ankle to my calf.  I did not roll my ankle in the least bit.  I landed on my two feet like I always do.  I ran back down on defense.

I looked down at my left ankle as I lazily nestled in the lane on defense.  I could barely put pressure on it and noticed my ankle ballooning up.  “Just fucking great,” I whispered to myself.  I stayed in the game for the remaining 17 minutes of the first half.

I am prone to ankle injuries.  It’s been like this since I first began playing the game.  There was never a season without at least one ankle roll.  This is mostly due to having extremely skinny and weak ankles.  This also is the reason why I am not suited for roller blading or ice hockey.  However, during this game I hurt my ankle by really doing nothing that warrants a sprained ankle.  This must be a late 30’s phenomenon.

I ended up playing my best game so far, at least offensively speaking, scoring 25 points on a decent night of shooting.  We were playing who I figured to be one of the better teams in the league, if not the best.  We came up short, hanging close until the last three minutes when we could not sustain their last run.  We ended up losing by ten.  I limped out of the gym.

The next day at work was a real disaster.  I could barely take a measly step.  It took five days before I could walk normal again.   I stopped providing answers to fellow coworkers around day two for why I was limping around the office.


Game 5

I thought I could play since it had been a week since my injury.  I tried lightly jogging around the gym during pregame warm ups to test the ankle.  I could barely run.  I wore two braces; one for each ankle, the extra support did not help.  During the game, I walked up and down the floor like Christian Laetner in the first half of the ’92 NCAA championship game against Michigan.

We played a decent team who had a player or two of marginal basketball skills.  We held a lead of ten or so throughout, giving us the win.  We had a bye the next week, so I was happy about that.  Now I could get this thing properly healed.

Game 6

Chinese food is not the best decision for a post game meal.  I awoke the next day with a blistering headache.  After the game, which we came out victorious, I gorged myself with a meal full of MSG.  Already dehydrated from the game I followed up with all that sodium in the Chinese food; let’s just say I wished for a hangover induced by alcohol rather than what I experienced from sweating a lot and eating dinner.

You live and learn…..

Game 7

I could not wait again to play.  It had been three weeks since our last game.  Due to Christmas and New Years, we finally resumed our season on the second Thursday of January.   We played the team we opened the season with for the second.  Both teams match up well against each other.  We traded leads all night.  The play was once again physical – lots of elbows and pushing.  The opposing player guarding me took one of my elbows to the face as I went up for shot in the low post.  His eyes were watering as he kept searching for blood from his nose, I apologized but I wasn’t that sincere.

It appeared we gave up the lead for good with less than two minutes to play.  Then all of sudden our foes began turning the ball over at an alarming rate.  Their turnovers lead to fast breaks and easy layups, which in turn, gave us the lead with under twenty seconds to play.

I floated the ball over the rim for an easy bucket and then quickly looked up at the scoreboard.  We were up three with less than seven seconds on the clock.  This was going to be a solid win for us and might turn the season around.

We ran back on defensive as our opponents raced the ball up the court.  Their point made a pass to the wing with three seconds remaining.  Their stubby off guard with his gut hanging out from his jersey caught the ball and threw up a desperation three pointer.

It banked in.

I couldn’t believe it.

I headed towards mid-court because I assumed someone would gather both teams to explain the OT rules.  I was alone at midcourt.

Everyone walked off the court to engage in post game handshakes.  The game was over.

“Wait…we tie?” I said to anyone within earshot.

No one answered so I headed to the scorer’s table to speak to some older grey haired man running the clock; who I assumed knew something about the rules and regulations of this league.

“How can we tie?  Why is there no overtime?  There are no ties in basketball!”  I said to the old man wearing flannel and a pair of worn in jeans.  He then slowly looked up from fiddling with the scoreboard and had this to say to me.

“Son, tonight you tied.”

I said nothing, walked out of the gym and drove home.

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