Before I caught the music bug, I played basketball for a good part of my childhood. I played in a couple of leagues and school teams during the school year and tournaments during the summer until I got to high school from second to eighth grade. Whenever I had a free moment, I wanted to play basketball. It was the reason I didn’t take my piano lessons seriously which to this day bites me in the ass. I didn’t play in high school because I was knee deep in making my debut album and politics although I killed during tryouts but that’s neither here or there. Basketball was life. When I chose music over basketball, my old coach told me he was kinda hurt I quit because of my potential. I keep telling myself one day I’ll play in a league again.
My nephew loves basketball. He has a little hoop up against the door in the den where the main tv is. Whenever I turn to a Knicks game, he tries to follow along as much as his attention span will allow him and the rest of thee time shoots on the hoop pretending he’s playing in the game. Every once in a while I would take him outside and teach him some drills to teach him how to play for real. He had a playschool hoop and for a year I made him shoot a regular ball into it. If he could nail shots on a hoop that small with a regular ball, a regulation hoop will be easy.
I put up a full regulation hoop this summer; right when he started basketball camp. I go out with him once a week or so and teach him drills: dribbling and shooting with his left, chest and bounce passes, and defense. He doesn’t want to do that for too long. He just wants to shoot around; but he wants to be Michael Jordan (ugh). The other day I told him that we spend so much time practicing without the ball is because most of the time on the court, you won’t have the ball. He said to me he hates practice. That infuriated me a little on the inside.
It was a microcosm of his mindset. Yes, he’s seven and playing around is all that kids want to do. But he has this same mindset about school. Brightest kid with all of the potential in the world and will do the minimum to get by. He hates homework, procrastinates, and won’t do his reading during the week and have to all day on Saturday. My mother and I tell him the same thing about basketball and homework: it’s practice. You have to repeat the same actions over and over again until you’re not only great at it, but the best. He just wants to do what he’s good at and gets frustrated when he has to continuously work on something he’s not good at. He’s not good with his left hand, so I force him to work on his left. He hates it. It’s the same thing with math. The way I force him left, I turn just about anything into a math problem to make him solve it as quickly as possible. He may hate me for it right now, but he’ll thank me later… I don’t want him to regret not practicing like I did with the piano.