The Reason for Driveways

Today, in my driveway, an ungainly apparatus appeared. Wheeled out of my neighbours’ garage, where it had lain in secret for several days, our family basketball goal now dominates our front approaches. (There isn’t much competition.) As is well and proper, our car has been banished to the curb. For the first time since I was 17 at Mom and Dad’s, I have a hoop at my house and, thanks to clever cranks and levers, I can still grab the rim. Thanks, Sam!

Samuel Justice – Number Four Son in your program, tied for first in my heart – turned six today, and we’ve honoured it with a home court. We got through three big brothers without one, somehow. Most often, there just wasn’t a driveway where we lived, but the main reason was that I was the local high school coach and community hoops maven. I had keys to the gym. The older guys got all the basketball they wanted; Ben and Dave were done with competition by grade 10, and Will put down his ball after three years on the high school varsity. We’ll see how long Sam keeps at it. I try to care less, and it seems to work.

This week, he’s going to the Olympics. He has a crazy energy and my-way stubbornness that feels athletic: a long way from coachable, but who needs that when he’s six and just wants to play? His travelling, quadruple-dribbling and truly eccentric version of one-on-one is a blast to play because he laughs the whole time. (He madly chuckled, too, throughout the goofy hockey games on our Tiny Perfect Backyard Rink™ last winter.) He’d rather shoot the ball like his buddy from Sunday school than the way silly old Coach Dad suggests, and he’s so proud when he makes that string music. Thank you, Mr. Naismith! Fathers and sons and driveway hook shots have to be the reason your game was invented. (Either that, or to feed Latrell Sprewell’s family.)

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