Christine Mooney shares her insights on staying happy and healthy
SOME of my earliest memories – and even before that, earliest photos – include a basketball. There is a picture of me from when I was a baby, not more than 18 months old, in my grandparents’ backyard, wearing pink sweats and trying to hold a basketball. My dad wasn’t too far away. In fact, anywhere there’s a basketball, he’s probably close by. As a kid, we’d go down the street to the basketball net, nothing more than a black metal post someone had cemented into the ground next to the curb, and run drills. Again and again he would go over how to follow through with the wrist, hoist a hook shot, pop a turn-around jumper on the baseline (his signature move), or drive to the basket. Occasionally, he took me to the city park. There we would play one-on-one. In one of my fondest memories, we beat two men who couldn’t believe a teenage girl and her “old man” could really compete.
Later on, I played basketball for my middle and high schools and for a church league. But as I got older, playing a team sport didn’t hold as much allure for me. I wanted the individual sports, like swimming or running or triathlons. Basketball fell to the wayside.
But not for Dad. Even though he travels almost constantly for his job – sometimes to large cities but mostly to podunk towns for a night or two – his basketball, tucked into a duffle bag, comes along. He plays with an over-30 crowd sometimes, other times he joins in a pick-up game where the other players are a good 40 years younger. Not only does he keep up, he beats them. There is a style of playing that he learned watching the old greats as a youth, the kind of playing that kids, who are too young to even remember Michael Jordan, have never seen. Those fundamentals are what keep me from besting him in a game of 21 even now. It also doesn’t help that he has more cardiovascular stamina than a marathoner.
On the floor in my car sits a basketball. It rolls around when I make a turn and slams against the backdoor, and it drives me crazy, but I refuse to take the ball out of the car. Dad takes a basketball with him everywhere he goes, and there’s a part of me that needs to do the same. I may not play as often as he does, but I need that option because when I hear a ball dribbling against a concrete court or the sound of sneakers squeaking on polished wood, a smile comes to my face and my muscles tense up – I’m ready to play. In West Chester alone, there are 12 parks, and eight of them have a basketball court. Particularly because there doesn’t look to be an NBA season this year, maybe it’s time to bone up on my own skills and finally win a game against my old man.