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Taking my talent to the Southern Province

Taking my talent to the Southern Province

As if playing basketball alone wasn’t strange enough, I did so on a wet outdoor court when it was still drizzling. What kind of addiction is this?

I had spent the night at the Cana Marian Formation Center in the Southern Province of Rwanda. When I woke up in the morning, I laced up my sneakers, picked up a basketball and ran to the court. Thomas Beller once wrote, "Running to the basketball court helps me to warm up but there is more to that run than simply warming up. It feels like I am running away from something or running to catch something. There is desperation in that run." I always feel the same way whenever I run to the court.

When I was running, other guests of this Catholic retreat center were gathering in the chapel to attend the morning mass. Shooting hoops when the rest of the guests were in an important liturgical ritual made me feel guilty but I kept shooting anyway. Father Vincent, if you are reading this; next time I will come to church. I promise.

When I was young, I used to run to the nearest court to play ball every day. Sometimes I would show up at an odd hour and find myself alone on the court. That never prevented me from playing. It’s amazing how deep one can get into the game while playing alone — unleashing highlight reels, losing imaginary defenders with ankle-breaking crossovers and nailing last-second shots over and over again.

As strange as it sounds, I do have fun playing basketball alone. The power of imagination makes ballers feel like they are hitting game-winning shots in the Kigali Arena, in front of 10,000 fans screaming their lungs out. For the young pro aspirants, this is how dreams of a glamorous future are conceived.

As far as I am concerned, anything that helps me to stay in a good shape while having fun is a gift from heaven. When you find an amusing physical activity, you won’t have to look for motivation to workout. Motivation will find you instead.

After putting up hundreds of shots, challenged by the stretched hands of ghost defenders, my t-shirt was completely wet. I was soaked up in a combination of sweat and raindrops. I had fallen a few times after sliding on that slippery court but I felt good. I am talking about that feeling you experience after a good workout.

I wonder what is stranger: playing basketball alone or doing so on a rainy, chilly day? Hoops addiction is strange.

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