Saturday, April 01, 2006

Chp 58. Basketball

Gallons of beer and crates of Rum later, do take a look at me. I am a balding pot bellied aging fart. Lazier than a sloth and slower than anyone’s grandma.

But there once used to be a time, long long time ago, when I was one of the most sought after point-guard in Tamilnadu school and college level. Ah! Such sweet memories. Waking up everyday before sunrise to jog 20 times around the football ground, skipping continuously for 30mins with 3mins break every 5mins, and undergoing the most stressful and tiring endurance work-outs under different State Coaches. There had been hardly a time when I did not do more than 100 sit-ups daily those days. Now I cannot even do 20 at one go.

Basketball has always been a part of my soul. Have been playing it since 3rd std. The only reason why I got into basketball at such an early age was because of my role models. Nope, it’s neither Jordan nor Magic. My two role models those days were my two elder sisters. They were really into BBall and were both captain of their school team when they were in 12thstd. La Martiniere’s School, Calcutta. I used to look up to them a lot and I started playing basketball only because of them while every young boy from the North-east was playing football.

Yet I trained harder and harder. Basketball is the only part of my life where I’ve actually ever pushed myself to the limit. In St.Thomas (Calcutta) and Montfort (Yercaud), my two alma maters, I was always the only mizo in the basketball team while the rest of the mizos went along the football mainstream. Years later, when I was in 10thstd, I was nominated the senior basketball team captain (Montfort School, Yercaud) and 2 years later, the School Basketball Captain, bagging the prestigious best Basketball Player Award. My dreams came true.

As far as I can remember, I’ve been playing basketball every single day during my school and college days. And I had the honour of playing under many great coaches, of which my most treasured coach would be Mr.Elias. Not just the best coach I’ve ever come across but also a great friend whom I turn to for advice on life, love and all sort of crazy stuff growing kids were curious about.

During my school captaincy, I led my team to the States Championship! That has been one of my proudest achievements so far. Winning a couple of state level tournament is something (to be precise, we won 12 state level tournaments under my captaincy), but winning zonals, districts, inter-districts, divisionals, regionals, inter-regionals and final reaching State is a completely different thing. Man it felt great.

Even in Mizoram, even though I am hardly there, I do play every time I go home for the vacations. My first team was “Vipers”. A total wash-out. We lost the second game we played. The next time I went home, I joined “Vikings”, a team made up by our locality group of friends. I did have a good time there. But it was not fruitful. During my 10thstd vacation, I was recruited by “J.L.Vision”. It was one of the best games I’ve ever played and we won the Mizoram tournament that year, and yours truly was awarded the best Player of Mizoram! Even got an offer to join the State team, but unfortunately had to decline because I had to go back to Tamilnadu for my studies. During one of my College semester vacation, I joined “ABC”. It stands for Andrew Basketball Club. Andrew was a dear fren of mine and ex-teammate from “Vikings” who passed away, may God rest his soul. The team is made up of people who were close to him. We won the Mizoram Tournament that year too!!! Had a blast celebrating our victory. And right now, am currently playing for “Club Francis” even though I never got an occasion to actually play for the team yet because it’s been ages since I last went home. “Club Francis” is formed in memory of Francis, a very close fren and classmate of mine, who died in a car accident in 2003, May God rest his soul too.

College was no different. I was a complete jock. We won TIES (Tamilnadu Inter Engineering Sports) three out of the four years I was in the College team. And during my final year at P.S.G. Tech, I was elected the Captain. But unfortunately I had to decline this offer and appointed Guhan to take my place. I assured the team that I will be just the playing captain. Coz being captain over all, means doing a lot of things like, registering for tournaments, arranging the transportation of the team, managing the funds and DAs (Daily Allowance) and TAs (Travel Allowance) etc and since my tamil is kinda weak, it was not something I can live up to.

Apart from being a 3 times TIES gold medalist, I played for the PSG Sports Club, one of the best college-level basketball clubs in Tamilnadu. We even beat Loyola whites once. PSG Sports Club is made up of the best players from PSG Tech (Engineering), PSG CAS (Arts) and PSG IMS (Medical) colleges. PSG Tech has given me some of my best memories when it comes to basketball. Long before I joined this college, when I was the captain of my School team, I scored my career highest of 42 points here in this very Institute. And PSG Tech was also the place where I actually dunked during the course of an actual tournament (Fuck, now I cannot even touch the ring). And during my PSG days, we even beat Customs & Excise, one of the best Clubs in TN, with a buzzer beater! I couldn’t sleep that nite.

But I guess one must sacrifice if one wants to do something else that is more important. During my final year at PSG, I had a couple of back-papers that I must clear if I wanted to graduate. It was then that I got an offer to join my University (Bharthiar) BB team. With a heavy heart I had to turn it down bcoz I had lots to study. And our team went on to become runners-up in the All India University Tournament, losing to DU (Delhi University) in the finals. Damn, how much I regretted letting that opportunity pass.

Anyway, even though I’ve stopped playing for the past 3-4 years, I do hit the court like once or twice a month. It is then that I go through a very emotional phase that every ex-sportsperson goes through. It is at that very moment that you realize how different you’ve become, when you realize how much it hurts to know you can do a particular move, but physically you just can’t do that anymore. Like, your mind is ready to execute that 360 degrees double fake in the air, but when you actually do it, your body lands on the hard concrete floor even before spinning 270. I mean, your mind is perfectly capably of doing it, and in your head, you’ve actually pictured yourself doing that move, but in the real world, it is just not possible anymore. Or the way you fire a fade-away three pointer downtown. Nobody could stop you once you were on fire those days. But now, people block your fade aways as if it’s a casual jump shot. Sigh*

But there is one thing I will never regret from what I gained playing all those tournaments all my life. Experience. This is probably one of the most important factor in a game of basketball. I have seen so many players who are extremely good courtside while practicing, but when it comes to a real tournament with national refrees and flood lights and the crowd heckling them, they easily give in to pressure and even miss a Childs play underbasket.

With experience comes a whole lot of advantages like the ability to analyze the whole game, the ability to predict your man’s next move, the ability to predict the opponent’s coach’s next game plan, the ability to understand the whole game as if its nothing but a simple game of tic tac toe, the ability to keep calm even when you’re having the ball and there’s only 5 seconds left on the clock and the opponent is leading by two points.

During my college days, when me and my frens would just sit and watch top level players like Robinson Sr. (IOB), Hansel (ICF), Jayashankar (Indian bank), Parminder Singh Sr. (Punjab) etc perform on the court, we used to actually laugh at them coz they were so talented yet so slow due to old age creeping up on them. But then you realize how critical their position is on the team. These people have more experience than all of us from our college team put together. Their main job on the team would be to feed the much younger and vitalized players. And right now, I feel nothing but like these legends. An old fart on the court who knows every trick in the book but cannot even shuttle run a half court under 1 minute anymore. Age and nicotine takes a toll on everybody sooner or later.

I used to follow the NBA loyally too. Knew every single player from Western to Eastern conference back then. But nowadays, am completely out of touch with what’s going on in the NBA. I had a lot of idols too, role models. And I was completely crazy over them. I used to hate Shaq. I still do. The people I really love are phenomenal players like Iverson, Jason Kidd, Stockton, Snow, Stoudamire, Hardaway etc. Yup if you are a follower of NBA, you will realize what profile really impresses me. Short guys. Especially short point guards. Why? Coz I too am a height impaired basketball player (I’m just 5’10, tall for a mizo, but short for a basketball player) and also a point guard. I really love it when short guys boldly challenge a taller player and shoots over him. Honestly speaking, I am not even a fan of Yao Ming, and it’s really irritating when people ask me if he’s my idol just because he happens to be oriental too.

Anyway, I guess basketball will always be a part of my life. Sometimes it hurts when I read the mizo papers and find that Mapuia is glorified for being the first mizo to play in the National team. Mapuia, who was nothing but a mere kid during the peak of my career, is now playing for the Indian juniors team. Sometimes all these makes me think, I could have very well been where he is right now had I not decided to concentrate on my studies. Ah life sux. But then, when I think even more deeply and ask myself if it was really worth it, the answer is definitely yes. I have gained so much more after I took the academics path even though I discontinued from IIMB. I would have never been where I am today had I decided to ditch my studies and concentrate on sports.

This is why I just love the NBA. They have just one simple message for all the youngsters worldwide. “Stay in School”. Ofcourse this doesn’t apply to the likes of Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill etc who joined the league immediately after school. But still, it is reassuring to know that the NBA discourages people from dropping out of school just for the sake of playing a professional game. Long live Basketball.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude...how can i ever forget...Kima the basketball jock. You were great in Montfort...still remember the days when all of us 'lesser mortals'used to watch you guys practice during Games time...while we were banished to playing with the single hoop outside the court..Tis real bad to hear that you stopped playing.You could have gone on to greater things...but,as you say, studies are always important.
Actually reading your post brought back a lot of memories for me too. I had taken up football after the 10th (Imagine!!!!) got into the school team and we had come runners up for a few district level tournaments. Lost touch with the game totally during college and now the very thought of running makes me tired... well I try to make up for it by watching EPL religiously....
well as you said the experience for me is enough..to know that I too have played the game...

Cheerio
Gerry

virgochhas said...

wow!!..am impressed,

so u play for club francis, if am not mistaken, they've a game today, dey won on monday and hope they will today...dey r camping @ sihhmui or sumthin' like dat :D...anywayz, u wud be knowing all these hehe..

one day am gonna watch u play basketball...a shot fo me..?

illusionaire said...

OMG Gerry!!! You. Football????? lolx!!!
Man that is so cool. Before u left, I dont think u werent into football at all na? Yeah, I remember you used to play basketball on the side court, i think with Slajan, Sabestian, Varkey, Vipin, Joe etc right? Man, those were some really good times. And yeah, I know it really sux now... School years were indeed the best years of my life. Really miss Montfort.

illusionaire said...

Yeah Virgo, the last time I checked, I am still in Club Francis :-)

The thing is I havent played a single match for the team, coz its been a long time since I went home. But yeah, Richard told me my name is still in the roster. Infact, he told me there are a couple of certificates for me, for some of the matches that Club Francis won! lolxxx! How cool is that. Getting state level certificates without even being in the State.

The thing is Richard n I have this really amazing combo on the floor. He post-up and I take care of the downtown zone. We've been playing together since Montfort, then JL Vision, then ABC, and now Club Francis. Its like he and I can predict each other's move without even looking at each other, like a mental telepathy connection or something like that, and that is very crucial during game time.

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

As I read this chapter, I almost cried :-) I played football on the streets but never graduate to the playground.

Was it 1997 when you joined J.L. Vision? I did come there accompanying my school team, Mr Carmel.

I heard people saying "Monfort ho".

illusionaire said...

Ah you have my sympathies Ben. Most street footballers left the street and became Pros. You on the other hand left football and remained on the street. Hehehehehehe. :-)

Yeah it was around 1997 when I was in J.L.Vision. Yes, the team had a lot of Montfort students. Richard, Robert, Stephen, Francis, Paul and me were there. Man am getting nostalgic.

virgochhas said...

so richard's ur gud frend..Godd,itz such a small world.

illusionaire said...

Well, Richard is a popular guy. Everybody knows who he is, so its not very surprising...

virgochhas said...

wateva...

a neva know im...

Karthik said...

Hey great post Kima!
Hope you are doing good. Miss your basketball man..

Cheers
Karthik
IIMB-Batch of 2005

C'est la vie said...

Hey kima, I still remember the day you guys played during the tech trophy. Wow the atmosphere was electric and I kept telling everyone "kima my classmate":). I've often wondered whether I would have been a better tennis player (ofcourse no comparing my tennis and your basketball), had I taken competetive tennis and not do what I did. But you hope that you've taken the right choices as you move thru life. I'm sure in hindsight everything works out. Hey and get back to slam dunk funk! Go KIMA!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kima,

Did your younger sister-Dinpuii(Madini) pass out school in the 1996 batch? If so then I was the Vice Captian .
Do let me know.
Btw your blog is interesting .

Rgds
Your sisters friend

illusionaire said...

Dear Sister's friend,

It is extremely nice to receive a comment on my post written 20 months ago! Thanx for googling it out.

Since I couldn't contact you back after receiving your notification about your comment, I hope you read this old post of mine for my reply.

Yep my sister is indeed a 1996 batch and is the one you know. Except, she is not my younger sis :) Do I look that old? :) I'm a 1999 batch myself, and my sis is 3 years my senior. :)

Do keep visiting, you will find more about my sister in my later posts, especially posts like Manori Beach Resort.

Regards always,

Kima.

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