The Beautiful Game
by Chris Burton
I wanna play basketball for the rest of my life. Many of my life decisions (at least my school decisions) have been through the lens of a basketball fiend.
When making the move from public to private school, I had dreams of getting glory on varsity. (Nevermind that I was an incoming 7th grader)
In high school I frustrated my college counselor to no end because while he wanted me to look at the bevy of liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, I was looking at schools that were in the AP top 25. (For what it’s worth, we met halfway. Davidson is a top liberal arts college and a bastion of getting buckets. So good, so good.)
Basketball got me through my first year of seminary.
I collected all the microaggressions throughout the week and left them at the altar.
The court was my sanctuary.
Even as lupus was beginning to rear its head basketball got me through. I was in the bed battling pneumonia and texting my coach partner for our 7th grade boys’ score. (My wife had to threaten me, lovingly of course, not to go to practice.)
My hospitalization in Feb 2012 coincided with Linsanity (also known as one of my favorite times to be a Knicks fan ever). God knows it was a tremendous comfort for me to see my Knicks on tv so often (I was in Charlotte at the time) and a beautiful escape since they were actually winning.
The illness brought fatigue and tremendous fluctuations in weight but it could not take basketball from me. My meetings with doctors often included the inevitable question, “So…when can I play ball again?”
A little over a year has passed since the worst of everything and I’ve only dabbled in playing ball since. In those moments I was reminded of how much I treasure the game and challenged because of the road I have ahead of me. My touch (I’ve always likened my game to that of a poor man’s Sam Perkins) is not what it used to be and I’m working to get my lungs where I need them to truly enjoy playing.
“Doin’ It In The Park” and “The Doctor” rekindled my love for pick up ball. I spent my elementary school days learning the game at Soul in the Hole and I count The Cage on West 4th as one of my favorite fortresses of solitude. I’m getting better for a variety of reasons and thank God that basketball is a source of hope. My dreams of winning a championship for my beloved blue and orange will never come true but my days of getting buckets on the blacktop never have to die.