As a die-hard Celtics fan, the first thing I thought of when I saw today’s Photo Friday theme, Three, was Boston’s so-called Big Three: the championship-winning combination of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. I don’t have any pictures of the Big Three together, unless you count this team photo from the 2008 NBA Finals, a picture I snapped from an oversize, illuminated version on display at the Boston Sports Museum. Although I clearly remember the 2008 NBA Finals, I watched the game on TV at home, not at the Garden with the Big Boys.
The Big Three play three different positions, so it’s rare to capture all of them in a single frame. And looking back on the various Celtics photos I’ve taken, we’ve often gone to games where one of the Big Three hasn’t been playing due to injury. So in the spirit of today’s Photo Friday theme, I’ll have to show you three separate pictures of the Big Three in action, and I’ll leave it to you to connect the dots.
Tonight J and I have tickets to see the Celtics play the Atlanta Hawks: our only Celtics game of the season. Judging from the number of Bruins and Revolution pictures I post, you’d probably guess that hockey and soccer are my two favorite sports, but actually basketball is my far and away favorite. In high school gym class, basketball was the only game I didn’t completely stink at. When I was a kid, my mom used to shoot baskets at the neighborhood playground while I played on the swings and jungle gym, and whenever my dad would come with us, he too would shoot hoops. Once when I was probably around 10 or 11, my dad asked if I wanted to join them, and I remarked that I was too short to play basketball. My dad immediately explained that you don’t have to be tall to shoot a decent basket, as long as you know the rudiments…and he then showed me how to hold, shoot, and follow-through with a basic free-throw shot. Once you know how to make a basic shot, he explained, the rest is just finesse.
Although I never had enough “game” to play in high school much less college or the WNBA, basketball is the only sport I can watch and imagine myself playing. When I see a precision shooter like Ray Allen take a free-throw, I always notice the basics my dad taught me: a balanced, grounded stance; a solid hold on the ball; a limp-wristed follow-through. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a playground with a basketball, but I’m sure I’d remember the rudiments once I worked off the rust. Even though my “game” is limited to shooting some occasional baskets with my parents at the local playground, my muscle-memory recalls those moves and revisits them when I watch the pros play, as if I could borrow their bodies simply by watching.
Earlier this week, I watched video footage of injured veterans from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center playing wheelchair basketball at the White House. It seems my dad was right about basketball. It doesn’t matter how tall you are; it’s a matter of remembering the rudiments.