The Basketball Hoop
This story was submitted by Mike Rabin to The Best Gift Ever collection as part of the December SEEQ sessions.
For my 10th birthday, my parents handed me a picture of the basketball hoop that was to be installed in our driveway in the coming days.
As soon as it got installed, I was shooting hoops regularly. Although I had some exposure to youth basketball camps, I would consider my basketball abilities largely self-taught through the trial-and-error of practicing my layups, turn-around jumps, foul shots, three-pointers, and trick shots. With a small build and few athletic gifts to speak of, my starting point for shooting was a two-handed hoist of the ball from my chest. Not long after, I had developed that hoist into a workable shooting form. And as I built strength, I followed by role models, mainly sharpshooters on the Syracuse Orange college basketball team, to convert my hoist into a single-handed, high-release form.
I was never an athletic talent, but I earned my part in pick-up ball as a shooting specialist and hustling defender. Those skills were important to my physical and emotional development, and helped me build and sustain friendships with those who shared a love of the sport. The simple activity of shooting baskets became an emotional release for me in my teenage and 20s years, getting me outside or to the gym to practice an activity that was meditative, physically healthy and easily accessible — all of which were fruits of this gift for my 10th birthday.
Looking back 21 years, what I appreciate about the basketball hoop is that it was not only a gift of generosity, it also became a conduit for my physical, emotional and interpersonal development through today. Without that hoop being just outside the garage door, I wouldn’t have committed myself to the game. And as someone who could never run as fast, jump as high, and coordinate themselves like seasoned athletes, it was uplifting for my confidence to achieve athletic recognition and belonging on a basketball court.