I found myself on a basketball court not long ago. As will happen on a basketball court, a basketball came to be in my hands – or more specifically – my right hand. I hadn’t held a ball in either of my hands for a long time, but there I was.
I had a ball.
I was looking up at the rim.
The ball was dripping with unfulfilled purpose.
Without thinking, I took a quick half step forward with my right foot. I brought the ball up, cradled gently in my right hand, palm facing the sky, and fingers spread along a seam. In one graceful motion my back, hips, knees, and ankles uncoiled, as I jumped… just enough for my toes to leave the ground (so not really a jump… more of a hop… but I digress).
With the ease of countless hours spent taking jump shots in my youth (day and night, by myself, under a lamp-post at the end of the street) my arm shot up, and with a flick of my wrist I launched a back-spinning ball towards the goal.
There was a time when it was popular to refer to the sound of a ball passing through the net of a goal as a swish, but my ears never heard it that way. To me, it sounded like the net and ball were calling out the name “Chuck.” Maybe there was a day when nets were made of thinner, finer materials which lent themselves to a silky, swishing sound. But the courts I played had course, rope-like material. The courts I played didn’t sound like the ball was being caressed. It sounded like it was being beaten.
Anyhoo, back to the ball recently in hand.
Although I was looking at the back of the rim as I released the ball, I knew as soon as it left my hand it was perfect. I didn’t need to see it or hear it, I KNEW as it came back down it was going to catch nothing but…
It caught… nothing but gravity?
The net was supposed to speak to me – THEN – I’d hear the ball bouncing on the ground.