I love spring

by

By: Adam Hutchinson
Head Men’s Basketball Coach

I love spring!  Many people, like my wife for example, love spring because of the blooming flowers and buds on trees. I like that stuff too.  But to me, spring has always been about basketball.  Growing up, there were two distinct basketball experiences that I looked forward to every spring:  gearing up to prepare for the summer basketball that I would play, and watching the NBA playoffs.

Living in Lexington offers few, if any, meaningful basketball playing experiences for a man my age.  A couple of summers ago I decided to drive to D.C. every week to play in two summer leagues up there.  Given the amount of driving required, and the price of gas, I wondered if maybe I was a little crazy for doing it . . . but not for long.  The first week was rough, but by the second week I was getting that old feeling back of seeing improvement in my game, and looking forward to the next opportunity to test myself against new opponents.  But before I could play summer ball, I put myself through a good spring training.  I tried (though unsuccessfully) to replicate the best spring/summer training that I had ever experienced, but it turns out I was missing a couple of key ingredients.

Lots of former players will tell you that their favorite basketball memory is from a big game in a packed gym, while playing for some state or national championship.  My favorite basketball memories occurred in an un-airconditioned gym with three people, and we were playing only for the championship of each other.  My two cohorts (and opponents) in this insanity were Jamal, a D3 All-American and Perry, a former guard in the NBA.  We would work out for three or four hours, and THEN play full court 1 on 1 on 1.  No foul calls.  To 15.  Best of 7 games.  Which to our warped minds meant you had to win 4 games to triumph, and since each of us often got 3 wins, we were often playing 10 games.  Needless to say it was exhausting, and obviously these two guys were tremendously skilled opponents, but what really fascinated me and kept me coming back was how these contests inevitably became tests of will.

When I watch the NBA playoffs each spring I see the same thing, and this year’s playoff is no different.  Obviously all players and all teams at that level are tremendously talented, but if you watch the games closely, you can see where when and how Boston broke New York’s collective will in the first half of game 3.  After that, game 4 was a mere formality.  Of course no Knick will admit this occurred, but it doesn’t change the fact that it did.  I believe that all games are contests of will, and sometimes the result is decided in the first minute, other times in the last.

The best thing about the NBA playoffs is seeing a team crack in one game, and then muster the will to battle harder or smarter in game 2.  The San Antonio/Memphis series offered a great example of this.  The Spurs were the top seed and Memphis was 8.  Even after Memphis took a 3-1 lead in the series, and had a 3 point lead in game 5 with 5 seconds to play AND the ball, the Spurs refused to fold.  The Spurs hit a 3 to send the game into overtime, where they went on to win and force a game 6.  Memphis prevailed in that game to win the series, but the Spurs never conceded gave up.  Nonetheless, at some point in the series, Memphis pushed that action to a place that the Spurs were unwilling or unable to go, and imposed their will on the Spurs.

I’m not sure if watching the playoffs triggers it, or it’s some form of muscle memory, but every spring I start DREAMING about playing basketball.  I mean those kind of dreams where I wake myself up because my body actually does something I was dreaming about.  And the competitive juices get flowing.  I’m 39 and coming off of ankle surgery, but Jamal is 36 and rehabbing a broken leg.  Perry is 52, and he must have started slipping by now.  I have their phone numbers, and access to a gym.  If I set my mind to it, I can win 4 games of full court 1 on 1 on 1 . . . all it is, is a test of will.

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