I am totally, seriously, 100 percent not joking when I say this: Feeling your basketball skills diminish little by little is one of the most traumatizing experiences in life.
Now I admit, to non-ball players that may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but if you've been a consistent pick-up player for most of your life, you'll know why this is a sensitive.
At the peak of your powers, you feel invincible. You can play for hours with minimal break, you have a favorite move that you can go to and you're never that guy that people make fun of.
But father time is undefeated, and while NBA players usually don't slow 'til their 30s, you're no NBA player. That means if you're a mid-20s millennial (or older), who's starting to get caught up in progressing in a career, which of course leaves less time for recreation, you're feeling it.
And by "it" I mean the shift from being great to being past your best. Admit it, the washed life awaits. It may not have completely taken over your body, but you see the signs that it's coming.
Here are 10 of them:
You start making "business decisions" on the court.
When you know a shot is about to miss, but you don't box out, because "someone else will get it," that's a business decision.
Then there's a fast break and you don't actually, you know, break, that's a business decision.
When the washed life cometh, you find your game full of "business decisions." I mean, what else are you gonna do, actually waste energy? And all the sudden, hustling on every play doesn't seem so admirable.
You lose the ball going left.
This is actually one of the more embarrassing and obvious signs that you're moving past your prime. It took years to perfect that left-hand dribble (and I guess right-hand for you lefties).
You take a few months off from the court, you get back on and you LOSE YOUR HANDLE when you try to cross to your left.
That is one of the more hurtful things that can happen to you on the court. On the outside, you try to keep your cool. But on the inside, you're like.
You're sore on day two.
Some soreness the next day after (literally) going hard in the paint? That's expected. Day two, though!? That's cause for alarm. And you know what time that alarm is signaling.
That's right, father time.
"My bad" is a mainstay in your vocabulary.
I truly believe if you wanna know how much worse you've gotten, you should monitor the amount of my-bad's you have. You get past three a game and you've got a problem, bro.
You actually have to make defended shots.
Remember the good old days?
We used to get past people, or create space with a little step-back. Haha, not anymore. For some reason, defenders can actually stay in front of you now, like, every time!
I believe that's what they call, "losing a step."
You have an increasing belief in help defense.
You used to be all about sticking on one person and proving you can lock anybody up. Now you're all about switching on screens and rotating.
You don't even think about it anymore.
Why bother running through screens and catching up to the guy who just blew past you when good ol' help defense can do it?
You prefer half-court.
Once upon a time, you used to love running full court. I mean, 10 players and enough room for a regulation game? That used to be a luxury.
Now that 4-on-4 half court life ain't so bad, huh?
(That's your lungs being washed up.)
You can't "feel the basket" anymore.
One of the most magical things about basketball -- and the human body, I suppose -- it's pretty much all muscle memory. Think about it. When you shoot the ball, you're applying an amount of force into your shot base on instinct.
It's almost as if you could feel where the basket. Oh, also, when you're washed up, your sense of where the basket is? Yeah, that sense is totally off now.
When you start seeing people wear "Curry" on the court.
Let's just say, that's how you really know it's a new era.
When you get ghosted.
If you get invited to play with a group you've never had a run with before, you know the rules.
Actually, I should take out the "s," because there's only one rule: You better ball.
That's just how the game goes, ball out or never get a call back. And once get ghosted, man, you really know you lost it.