Bonding over basketball

Basketball is all my son who’s now oh so tall talks about. When he came over for summer break, I greeted him with my usual line.

So what club are you in now?


I secretly wanted him to get into soccer. I’ve dropped him hints now and then. He just grins and shakes his head. Oh well. At least I’ve made him aware there’s another word out there besides basketball. Just in case.

It also means I have to learn about my son’s sport in order to be more relevant in this phase of his life, and to keep communication lines with him open which is what I’m really after. Generation gaps happen because of communication breakdown in sharing significant aspects of one another’s life. I didn’t want to be that parent who for one reason or the other her child can’t or won’t talk to. That scares me. Then again there’s a fine line to tread between concern and pushiness. I also didn’t want to turn into the latter.

I’ve lost track of the PBA and NBA of today. But I was such a fan back in the days. The glory days of the sport, I like to say. I thought it a good subject to share one day after our dinner.

I recounted to him the legends and their teams. The Big J never say die Jaworski and his equally fearless colleagues like Codinera who built the Ginebra San Miguel franchise into what is today. It had been my Manila-side relatives who initiated me to the team. My folks had sent me to finish sixth grade in the Metro (such was the training then toward independence) and my aunt happily adopted me. Her husband, my late uncle, worked with San Miguel (until he retired) and that loyalty spilled over to the team. I remember that he’d have a few of his colleagues over for drinks – San Miguel what else – and my cousins and I would plant ourselves in front of the TV. We were a rowdy audience. If there was a time in my life so far when I had totally let go of myself, it was those days.

I followed the team until it became Anejo Rhum and then stopped. I was back with my family then. Our home didn’t have a TV (my folks’ decision). And already in high school, my interests were moving toward something else. After that the next thing I knew the Big J had been elected a Senator. With him there, I realized that an important era in local basketball had passed.

With NBA, my initiation happened earlier, before PBA. We were abroad. At the time, it was Boston Celtics and LA Lakers. Larry Bird. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson. Michael Jordan (to which my son reacted, really? Michael Jordan? Yes, I said, that shows we’re not too far apart). The all-time greats. And then, years afterward, in the 1992 Olympics, the dawn of The Dream Team the greatest team ever assembled.

It was,” said Coach Chuck Daly, “like Elvis and the Beatles put together.”

And what a band it was. Start with three of the game’s all-time greats: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Add the irrepressible Charles Barkley for a little spice, as well as seven more NBA All-Stars: centers David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, power forward Karl Malone, swingmen Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin and Clyde Drexler and point guard John Stockton. Complete the roster with Christian Laettner.

It was a heady time for US basketball and it’s fans.

At this point, my son looked at me with wonder. I suddenly recalled that I might have looked the same way listening to my late grandfather’s tales of the world war. I became acutely aware of the reversal of roles. I ruffled his hair. And you know what, I added, I collected play cards too. He laughed.

And then it was his turn to acquaint me with the newer stuff of the sport which he has not done before.


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