By Brian Lichterman | Sports Editor
Fall is the time where baseball is wrapping up, football is in full swing, and basketball is just getting started.
Oh, and hockey is doing something, too.
However, some of my fondest memories of fall are of pickup basketball games down at the local parks. For the adult who misses the competitiveness of high school athletics, social leagues and pickup games can be a perfect remedy.
Adult leagues are already kicking into gear all over Newport Beach including softball, basketball, and soccer, but if you happen to miss out on the registration for those leagues and don’t want to wait to get in the game, you can just head on over to the courts on the Peninsula at the 38th Street Park.
Not all of us were good enough, tall enough, or talented enough to play competitive basketball, so it’s nice to have somewhere to go to get out and shoot some hoops in a friendly yet contentious atmosphere. Sure you can throw on your 1995 Air Jordans and shoot a few hoops by yourself, but isn’t it more fun to get in on some 3-on-3 half-court action? Basketball is one of those sports you can play by yourself, as opposed to volleyball or tennis, but it’s truly much more fun playing H.O.R.S.E. with a friend or D’ing up a stranger in a pickup game.
The same way I get all fired up to go out and play golf after watching Masters weekend, I always feel like lacing up my high-top Converse and taking somebody to the hole after watching Kobe hit a buzzer-beating shot. I’m sure every one of you that played basketball as a child has made countless shot attempts while counting down, “3, 2, 1…” However, unless you became a professional athlete or have been playing competitively since high school, that has been lacking from your everyday routine.
Most of the people that play down on 38th Street are incredibly friendly and are willing to get anybody in the game. Even if there are extra people, you can rotate in to different spots on a team or simply wait for a game to be over so you can join the next.
Of course there are plenty of other sports to pick up in our wonderful city, especially on the beach. There’s sailing, surfing, paddleboarding, and swimming. As we get older we pick up tennis and golf, and maybe even squash or handball, but there’s something about the traditional sports that’s just better than the rest. Granted you’re probably not going to be in your 30s or 40s and join a tackle football league or fast-pitch baseball, but I strongly recommend you try your hand at basketball if you haven’t visited it for a while.
With the endless amount of sunshine in Newport and the crisp air of autumn, a few pickup games can be the best wakeup call on Saturday mornings. Some days I even find myself going over on Sundays before the morning football games start, just to watch the games even if I don’t have time to play. The intensity and joy on the player’s faces is so much fun to watch.
So grab that old ball from the closet, pump it up so it’s nice and springy again, and head over to the court to get in some practice before getting in the game and once you do, break out your best MJ impression and hang that tongue out in the air as you nail the game winning shot!