It’s been five days since the country did the responsible thing and hit the pause button on the sports world for the foreseeable future, while we deal with the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Meanwhile, sports fans are certainly going through withdrawal. We deeply miss the competition and the abundance of live games that were available to entertain us on a daily basis.
So, to fill that sports void in our lives and get those competitive juices flowing once again, the Langone boys took matters into our own hands. Monday marked Opening Day of the Father-
Son Driveway Basketball Association, also known as the FSDBA. It’s a working title, we’re not married to it.
It’s daily games (weather permitting) of one-on-one in the driveway, pitting me against my 8-year-old son, Luke, or my 4-year-old son, Reece (although he’s just as happy pretending he’s a Ninja Turtle). The season runs until professional sports return for our enjoyment, and it keeps us right where we should be during this health crisis — at home, with the family, away from a group setting.
Full disclosure, I’m a 38-year-old with a streaky jumper, a first-step that seems to get slower by the minute and a never-ending fear of an excruciating hamstring pull. But who cares about all that, the FSDBA suits me perfectly. I got 18 inches and over 100 pounds on my closest competition, and we’re playing on a nine-foot hoop. This is the closest I’ll ever be to Wilt, or Shaq, or Zion. I’m a man amongst boys, literally.
On Monday afternoon, Luke and I trotted out to the driveway for the much-anticipated season-opener. It was a crisp 35 degrees — a sharp reminder of how March in New England is typically far from glorious. Still, I took the court in shorts and a light shirt. No gloves, no winter hat needed. I wanted my toughness on full display to Luke, who actually opted for heatgear tights under his shorts, a thick sweatshirt and thin gloves on his hands.
For extra intimidation, I hammered down a couple emphatic two-handed dunks during warm-ups to send the message that this was going to be a long, forgettable afternoon for my first-born son.
As a firm believer in good sportsmanship, I allowed Luke to start out with the ball. Game to 10 by
twos and threes — his rule.In the back of my mind, I briefly had a fear that I may get Virginia’ed. Monday marked the two-year anniversary of UMBC becoming the only No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed when it shocked Virginia in the men’s NCAA Tournament. Then, the fear passed and I remembered how much I’m going to miss March Madness, which would’ve started Tuesday night with the First Four, had the tourney not been canceled.
The game began, and I elected to play some social-distancing-defense. I sagged off Luke about six feet and he made me pay by knocking down a 3-pointer from behind the imaginary line that he considered deep enough to be a triple. That spot was later measured at 13 feet from the rim.
Score: 3-0, Luke.
Instead of establishing my size in the imaginary paint, I decided to take advantage of Luke’s short 3-point line. I calmly swished a game-tying three and it was 3-3.
Next possession, Luke made a sweet crossover, but I recovered and had him defended well. I didn’t fall for his first pump fake, but lost my discipline and bit on the second. He quickly tossed up a four-footer on the baseline and it dropped in for a 5-3 lead.
Not a problem for this savvy old vet. I did my best Steph Curry and swished another 3-pointer to grab a 6-5 lead.
We traded misses and possessions, and then I lost my focus and left Luke for an open triple. He nailed it, as I knew he would, and the young gun took an 8-6 lead.
I continued to abandon my post game and jacked up another 3-pointer. But it proved to be the right call. I was, after all, feeling it, and dropped in another for a 9-8 lead. I could sense Luke’s confidence fading. I was proving to be an inside-outside threat, and, really, how do you defend that?
We traded misses again. Suddenly, I had the ball back and got off a little eight-foot floater that I’ve attempted hundreds of times on the driveway hoop. But it spun out and Luke got the rebound. He cleared it and immediately made a quick move to the basket. His shot missed, but he inexplicably got the rebound. He fired and missed again, and somehow got another rebound. Feeling defeated, I failed to get an arm up on his next shot, and he drilled a five-footer from the left baseline.
Game over. 10-9, Luke wins.
I shook my head in disbelief, grabbed some Gatorade, and replayed the game in my head.
Luke said, “dad, you should write about that game.”
So I did.
Now, I wait for the rematch.