You always were more than just a game for me and millions around the world. You are the responsible for my first feel of what it actually means to work as one, it is your fault I have a strong will that no pain be it physical or mental can break, you are the one who thought me to be responsible for my actions, and you are the one that brought joy and pain to my world in matter of seconds.
The love I felt for you grew since the first day I got a basketball, since the first day I saw my father play with his friends, since the day I managed to score my first basket, it only grew and it grew. The feelings that you gave me brought me to the border of tears, tears of joy and tears of pain.
I remember the first time I got hurt, I didn’t want to stop playing, so I didn’t. I remember the first time I lost the game because I couldn’t do the things I was supposed to, heart broken but I wasn’t ready to give up. Remember that time I missed the winning shot, yeah I do to, and do you remember when my team was on a winning streak, and then the coach wasn’t letting me play due to some stupid papers, remember when he said “Look how much one player means to the whole team, if he played we would’ve won” remember that?
All those times that I got to a few points to win just to be hit back and have to get up again, I remember all of them, but then there are those other times…those magical times. Remember that first time I touched the rim, I felt like touching the sky, I couldn’t feel the earth beneath me, I felt like flying, like his Airiness.
And do you remember the first time I dunked, and dunked it again and again I dunked till my hands bleed till my legs were shaking. I was so happy I could do something the best can do.
Then it went all up, a kids game changed to a pros game, faster players, smarter minds and stronger elbows. I ran, I freaking ran my lungs out, I was skinny, almost died a few times from overworking myself, yet I was there, in the spotlight with my brothers. With teammates that held together no matter what. We were all starts, even though our experiences and player skills differed from one extreme to another, here we were working as a team, eating as a team, breathing as a team. We were family.
Trust me, I feel the love of my family, and it just gets bigger and bigger every time I play, every time I practice, every time I get the ball in my hand it’s all just family love.
Fine and good until that fall, remember the pain? I still feel it. I couldn’t dunk for a year, I couldn’t walk for a year, I couldn’t be in my heaven, on the court where I could be me, I just couldn’t be.
Tears didn’t come out, blood, that’s what I got instead of sweat as I worked out. D.Rose, what an inspiration, man he fell the same as me, we had the same surgery, he is back, I am going to be back.
I fell so hard, and pretended everything is fine, but I knew, I knew that I will have to walk barefoot on shattered glass that’s set on fire. But Rose did it, so I had to do it. I didn’t want to lose you, so every day I worked out.
I was in the worst place in my life, only darkness around me and the ball would just roll away into it, and no matter how fast I ran I couldn’t get it, no matter how hard I hustled it was just out of reach. Until…until the day I got back into the gym.
I failed, but I tried again, and again and again and again, and then….then it happened. I dunked the ball again. And I felt like I blossomed, like the winter was over and summer is back again. All the colors came back to me and darkness wasn’t even near me, the ball just rolled towards me not away from me.
Remember all those times? Well here I am now, still playing, still growing thanks to you. That’s why, basketball I can’t go without you.
I love you, I love this game.