Staying in the loop, with hoops

On Dec. 30, 1936, 13 days prior to my birth, Hank Luisetti introduced the running one-handed basketball shot at Madison Square Garden while playing for Stanford. At the time, everyone else was shooting two-handed set shots or hook shots.

I am an admirer of Mr. Luisetti and continue to shoot running one-handers in games each week. My fellow players come from the neighborhood where I live and from other diverse parts of New York City. We are a mixed group, racially and economically. I am the oldest, a Methuselah, I am sure, in the minds of my colleagues.

The gym roof floods after a heavy storm. While playing, I have felt falling drops of water on my head. We dribble around buckets placed on the gym floor.

Depending on the number of players who show up, we play half-court or full-court. I prefer the former; less running.

On Saturday morning, lots of people come. There may be a wait of several games. When this happens, I pull out a pad and pen and go to work. This piece is being written while I am sitting on the gym floor.

I no longer play in games against the teens. At my age, I do not consider it dignified to chase teenagers up and down the court, especially since I can't keep up.

In addition to games, I enjoy shooting contests from the three-point line. As my opponent prepares to shoot, I have been known to emit animal sounds - a bark, meow, or moo - to distract him. Unsportsmanlike perhaps, but effective.

After a close game, a much younger teammate is upset by our boss. "It's only a game," I tell him. At once I realize my mistake, for he may be struggling at school, at work, or in his personal life, as I did at his age. Winning raises self-esteem; losing deflates it further.

Playing basketball provides me with many pleasures and keeps me in touch with the challenges of younger generations - challenges less daunting with the passage of time and the gaining of experience.

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