Threads of Basketball Identity

Green brain injury seed ribbon with stats on cardWatching the Raptors ascend to the NBA Finals and, after a heart-fluttering and TV-remote-power-button-workout Game Six, the championship, I began to reconnect to faint traces of my old self. My Junior High self loved basketball. I’d avoid other sports in gym whenever I could. Volleyball locked up my finger joints. Floor hockey was a game of avoiding vicious strikes to the shins. Baseball always began with the school meeting with my parents to say, yes, she can participate. But basketball was different. I didn’t need to get permission. I didn’t need to watch out for the real athletes. And I could dunk that ball, too! It was fun!

My high school hosted a basketball tournament and asked for volunteers to billet out-of-province players. You’d better believe I was volunteering my home and attending every game I could!

The problem with car crashes is that seatbelt injuries bugger up your shoulders and whiplash stiffens and straightens your neck into agonizing rigidity. You can’t dunk a ball easily after that — or launch one. But what really separated me from my love of basketball was my brain injury.

Memory connects us to our self. Injuries stop you from playing for long enough that memory fades and brain injury plays havoc with your identity so that you forget you used to love the game. And broadcast TV relegates games to channels only the well off can pay for, further severing any identity-connecting remnants. I remember it now as if those memories belong to another person, as if that person was telling me stories — except for one memory. My twelve-year-old self in the school gym dunking a basket, wishing this could go on forever.

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