I will be honest with you. This is an outright challenge to Stephen Curry. He’s a Charlotte guy. And he will understand.
Almost 30 years ago, I was carried by paramedics from an Atlanta, Georgia hotel room to a hallway in the emergency room of an Atlanta hospital. The best those at that place could do for me was to prescribe some pain killers for the blistering back and sciatic pain that made me totally disabled for quite some time. Thanks to the support of my brother who lived in Atlanta at the time, I was able to rest in pain for a few days at his place after the others in my group drove back home to Chapel Hill, NC.
My brother made sure I flew back. That’s how my brother is. And that’s how badly I was hurting.
Last February, I spent four days in a Huntersville, NC hospital, recovering from pneumonia caused mostly, I suppose, by the COPD the docs diagnosed. At the time, I was a weak and terribly under-weighted guy.
My son took care of me on this one. That’s the way my son is.
Well, I recovered from both of those devastating times.
That first back thing happened when I was less than 40 years old. I was told by doctors that I may never be able to even mow my own lawn with a back like the one I had. For several years, I believed them. But at the age of 40, I joined the local YMCA in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I lifted weights there. I shot basketball. Eventually I played ball again. With a group I fondly call “Geezer Ballers.” Because of that wonderful YMCA in the Hill, and because of the “geezers,” my back is now fine. So is my life. Both have been for some time.
After leaving Chapel Hill a few years ago to move to Charlotte for work and grandchildren, I stopped even trying to play ball. Then February hit me like a ton of bricks! Weakness, dizziness, lack of weight, long-term breathing problems. Man!
Shortly after leaving the hospital, know what I did? I joined the local YMCA about a mile east of my Charlotte home. It’s the McCrorey branch. There’s a great deal of history there.
So, anyway, I have been working out on weights there for a few months. I have also been shooting hoops. I am not certain when or if I will ever “play” geezer ball again. But, damn it, the Charlotte McCrorey YMCA is giving to me exactly what the Chapel Hill Y gave to me so many years ago.
Strength. Health. Hope. Promise. And the sheer joy of basketball again!
And I have to say, my shot is back! I am shooting better than I did as a starter on my high school basketball team! And now I am a 62 year old with COPD!
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a basketball shooting contest against some youngsters from Atlanta on the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell! (Okay. I was at a friend’s house for Memorial Day weekend. There were only two old friends in the contest with me at that lake house. But they are younger than me. Okay. By just a couple of years. But those guys still play competitively. In Atlanta!) The thing is, I beat those big-city Georgia youngsters hands down! There was little question about that!
Look, the whole point of what I am saying is that the YMCA means the world to me. The Chapel Hill Y and the geezer ball guys there saw me through the back stuff, deaths, a failed marriage, a failed business and so much more distressful stuff. Every day through all of that, the Chapel Hill YMCA was there for me.
The McCrory branch in Charlotte is no different. Just seeing and receiving the smiles from the folks who work and work out there have made breathing and living so much easier for me.
Many of the regulars there, my “new geezers,” when they see me with a basketball, they ask, “So how’s that shot coming along?” I have to be honest with them. So I said to a couple of them, “If I don’t have to run and jump, I will be a great basketball player!” Then I almost always say to each of them, “Bring on Stephen!” They love it when I say that.
So, come on Stephen! In a few days, you won’t have anything better to do for a while! You and me in a shooting contest! At McCrory! I will even invite the Chapel Hill geezers to come watch us!
I just really need to see the smiles on the faces of all those old guys who ask me about my shot these days. Sorry, but they need to see me beat you, Stephen!
Seriously, one day I hope that I can provide the same smiles and encouragement that each of my YMCA geezer friends in Chapel Hill and Charlotte continue to give to me.
Actually, this is an outright thank you. One from my heart.
To the YMCA.
Just for the heck of it, here is a video I shot and edited years ago for the Y in the Hill! CHAPEL HILL FUND RAISING VIDEO
And here is the link to an old Classic Lunar, “Geezer Ball!” GEEZER BALL