My Dad, the Old Man as I like to call him, was transferred from Miami to the Boston area in the early 80’s. The job was one he couldn’t pass up. It was a hard move on the whole family; I was indifferent because I was too young to know any better. We left sunny Florida for Boston, a place where the weather can be 60 degrees and sunny one day and a blizzard the next. Florida is full of shiny, happy people. In contrast, the people of Boston are full of sarcasm and are brutally honest, but everyone from the area is a “brothah”. The Boston sports teams are “wicked good”. And at the time of our move, the Celtics were wicked good and Larry Bird was the mayor of Boston.
In the early 80’s, Miami had zero basketball. The Miami Heat didn’t exist. There was no DWade or Lebron. Kids weren’t playing pickup games in the streets. No one paid any attention to basketball. Boston on the other hand was the exact opposite. Bill Russell and company established a basketball dynasty in the 50’s and 60’s, winning 11 championships. Two more banners were added in the 70’s. Boston loved basketball and the Celtics, but the passion reached new heights when the “Hick from French Lick” arrived in 1979. After the arrival of Bird, every kid in Massachusetts with a driveway had a basketball hoop and black Converse sneakers. It was the beginning of the Bird era. Though the move from Miami to Boston might have been tough on the family at first, I’m very grateful for it because we moved to an area with a passion for life and sports. Basketball meant everything to me as a kid. Basketball is the sport that gave me and the Old Man a chance to bond. It was a sport we learned about together; a sport we loved together.
For Father’s Day this year, I gave a gift to my Old Man that was decades in the making. When I was in elementary school, I always wanted to go to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall is located in Springfield, MA, about 2 hours from our house. The Old Man and I planned on going to the Hall but something would always come up. To make a long story short, we never went to the Hall. As I was thinking on what to get my Old Man for Father’s Day, I was looking back on my childhood, feeling nostalgic. What is the one thing that tied us together? The answer; Basketball. And what’s the one thing we haven’t done yet together? The Hall was calling. A couple of weeks ago, me and the Old Man finally went to the Basketball Hall of Fame and reminisced about the past.
Life gets busy sometimes, especially the older you get. It’s important to stop every once in a while and enjoy the simpler things in life. Enjoy the moment. Going to the Hall with my Old Man was one of those moments that you try to slow down as much as possible and just enjoy.
As soon as we entered the Hall, there was a basketball court with several baskets. The court was well maintained and the basketballs were official. Of course, me and the Old Man grabbed a ball and started shooting. Shooting around at the Hall with my Old Man reminded me of the times when my Old Man would come home from work after a long day and challenge me to a game of HORSE. We would play for one buck and we kept a tally on the fridge. I somehow would end up with the dollar even though, according to the official tally, I owed my Old Man about thousand bucks.
Here we are at the Hall shooting and we fall right back into our routines like it was 20 years ago. My Old Man was draining 10 foot jumpers from the side of the hoop, his favorite shot back then. He still had the range. Now, why 10 feet? 10 feet was the exact width on either side of the hoop in our driveway. As a child, I wanted to be Larry Bird just like every other kid in Boston. If Larry shoots 3’s, then I shoot 3’s. As a kid, I learned to shoot from downtown. I really didn’t have any other choice because I was always one of the smallest kids on the court anyway. It was either shoot from outside or drive the lane and get blocked. At the Hall, all my shots were from three point land. Unlike my Old Man, I lost my range a long time ago and hit maybe 2 out of 50.
After shooting around, we entered the exhibits. There was an exhibit devoted to the best player to ever play the game, Michael Jordan. I say Jordan is the best now, but back in those days there was no way I would admit Jordan was better than Bird. Saying Jordan was better than Bird was blasphemy and grounds for treason. But I’ve grown up and I can now say Jordan is the best ever. He carried the torch from Bird and Magic and brought the NBA to new heights. Plus, he was a superstar. The guy had is own brand of shoe. It was an event when the new Air Jordans came out. At the Hall, every generation of Air Jordans was on display. My personal favorite is the pair of Air Jordans III. They still look sharp.
Walking thru the Hall jogged memories and the Old Man and I swapped stories about back in the day. Stories like how my 5th grade coach would yell “Get a man, get a man” every time I was on defense. Or remembering when Bird scored 49 points against the Trailblazers when he was at the tail end of his career. I even admitted to the Old Man how anytime we played one on one he would travel, but I let him get away with it. He would take a step to his left and then step to his right without dribbling. It was his patented move. How could I call a travel on his patented move?
We talked about the years he coached me in junior high. Our team was called the Celtics but we sure didn’t play like them. He coached for two years and we won one game during that stretch. My buddy Smalley, Patriots blogger for this website, told me that everybody wanted to play on Mr. Wareham’s team despite our losing record. The Old Man had two rules, everybody plays and make sure you have fun. Even though we only won one game, it was the most fun either of us had playing basketball.
It was a great day at the Hall. The Old Man and I turned back the clock and relived some of the “wicked good” times we shared together. For a brief moment I felt like a kid again, just a son with his father.
About the Author
Written by johnw