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For the love of the game -- Part I: Old-school love

Going to wherever your sport took you to tighten up your skills, sometimes doing it by yourself, hours on hours. Practicing the same Oscar Robinson moves " the jump shot, a slight lean back with your elbow in your opponent's face. The Elgin Baylor drive to the bucket as he breaks to the basket after giving that little hurky jerky head fake. How about the Jerry West pull-up jumper " the fastest "jumpie" in the land? If you took a moment to blink while guarding him, you were done.

When was the last time you saw the Connie Hawkins's "big finger roll?" That shot is a lost art today. Who still remembers Jerry Lucas's sweeping hook shot? Or how about Archie Clark's no-frills crossover with the pull-up jump shot at the end from the foul line? Little parts of the game that made you a legend on the court, yet they were so simple and effective for many years.

Practice, practice, day after day, didn't need anyone to go with you " just needed a Voit, Spalding or Wilson. Get to the park early and leave late, you and your crew. Talk smack? Absolutely, and as much as you can. It was all in fun.

After the game was over, you went home and waited to do it again. During the school year you couldn't wait for the end of the school day. You'd get your homework done, and then fly out the house. If you got to the courts too late, you might never get a "run." Hey, if you got there too late, you might have to run to another court and hope the line for "next" wasn't too long.

In the winter, you'd get a shovel and move the snow just enough to get a half court. No one complained, "I'm not going to do that. It's somebody else's job," or, "I don't want to play that bad," etc. There was no crying. If you got there first, you started to clean the court if it wasn't already clean. There was no claim to a court, even if you cleaned it. If you lost it in a game, you waited until your "next." Respect was a natural on the court.

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