The Simple Joys of a Backyard Basketball Hoop

Each of the eight NBA first-round playoff series played a game over the weekend. There were certainly some duds, as to be expected, but a handful of the games delivered entertaining results.

The most exciting was the Boston Celtics’ 115-114 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Boston’s Jayson Tatum made a nifty spinning layup at the buzzer. Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving flipped the bird to Celtics fans. The general intensity is up to 11.

Tatum’s game-winner reminded me of something every basketball player (and possibly child) has done at some point. We’ve all used a backyard or park hoop to simulate a buzzer-beating basket.

I used to set up entire seasons and scenarios, where teams would work hard through multiple make-believe games, only to find themselves down one with six seconds left.

Then, I’d run an elaborate play that ended in a made basket. Sometimes this happened with friends. Sometimes it was alone. Sometimes the six seconds would actually take a full minute for dramatic effect. Sometimes I’d miss the game-winner and there’d be a rebound and a putback.

I couldn’t always predict what happened, but I always loved it.

This weekend, I had a chance to relive those backyard days. And it was just as much fun as it was 20 years ago.

One of my good friends had his bachelor party, and we stayed at two houses in a small town in Michigan.

One of those houses had a hoop in the backyard, which was only about seven feet high — so it was ON.

The first day, four of us spent an hour out there. We threw each other alley-oops. We skied into the air to overenthusiastically block shots. We took step-back jumpers that either swished through the net or went entirely over the backboard.

Because a backyard hoop is often placed around landscaping, there were some obstacles in the way.

A pile of soggy leaves was on the court. Random pieces of scrap wood sat in one corner nearby the hoop. Deck tables and chairs and even a hot tub were nearby. It was quite the challenge to navigate.

But that only made it more fun.

The next day, virtually the entire party (a baker’s dozen of us) joined the shenanigans.

And yes, you better believe things wrapped up with a 13-person alley-oop line that ended with the groom-to-be dunking and us all celebrating like we just won the title.

Am I more sore today than I’ve been in a long time? Yes, yes I am. But the regret level is at zero. It was a blast.

I hope you have your own version of a backyard hoop — something that gives you that simple joy and a lot of good laughs. We could all use some more of that.