Defining moments in a basketball life

In life, there are what I like to call “defining moments”. Sometimes these defining moments pass you by, and at the time you don’t even notice. You may not ever notice. But there are many defining moments – some small, some large – which find you stopping for a moment, or even longer, to reflect. One such moment occurred in our household last week, and for some reason it has been on mind ever since.

It was sudden, but not so unexpected. Luke, the youngest of my three sons, had an announcement to make: “Dad, I don’t want to play basketball in the winter season.” Although he is preparing to play in a preliminary final tonight, I had sensed that he had been growing a little disillusioned with the game. And now that he was playing footy also, his focus had shifted. However, I quickly came to the realisation that for the first time since the 2000/1 summer season, my wife and I would not have a son representing the Williamstown Cannons, our local basketball club. It was a defining moment.

Like it was yesterday, I can recall it all. My oldest son John, then only five years old, with singlet hanging down past his knees, racing up and down those courts at Altona. For that entire first season he barely got near the ball, and when he did get possession he did not have the strength to get it anywhere near the hoop. Then, in a non-descript Friday evening game, he was fouled when taking a speculative shot. When he nailed the resulting free-throw, registering his first ever point, the pure joy on his face as he turned to us and smiled, was worth bottling.

Always keen to emulate his big brother, my middle son Brendan began playing while he was still in kindergarten, much to his teacher’s amazement. He would get so nervous before games, particularly finals: “I just want to start on the bench tonight!” For him, the games were secondary to the social aspect of it all. For a couple of seasons he played with his older brother, and was coached by his dad, but a three-way clash of personalities ensured that this arrangement ceased in the interest of maintaining cordial domestic relationships.

Despite having been dragged from pillar to post for years to watch his brothers play, Luke was so nervous on the way to what would have been his first game that he threw up all over his new basketball uniform (and the back seat of his dad’s car). But he settled into it after that, although he possesses nary a competitive bone in his body. Of the three, he surprisingly enjoyed the most team success, having the good fortune to play in a team that at one stage went undefeated for three seasons.

For the last twelve years, we have been a basketball family. (After that first basket, John took to it like a fish to water, progressing on to representative basketball with the Melbourne Tigers for five years – a period containing defining moments both good and bad). Fixtures posted to the fridge, my wife and I juggling training and game times, arranging with others to car-pool when we were unavailable. Basketballs in the back-yard and on the roof, broken bones, team dinners, meeting mostly good people along the way.

I even managed to get roped back in to the game: with a bunch of old football mates, I started a Wednesday night team in which I turned out for six years. At various times, I have been Cannons club president, secretary, a coach, and website co-ordinator. It has been a worthwhile journey. But within the next two weeks, my association with the club comes to a close. It will be a defining moment.

We are, however, looking forward to getting our Saturday nights back! And as defining moments go, that will be a watershed worth remembering.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    I think we should share a retirement dinner.

  2. Smokie – very nice tale. Another example of how we should try as much as possible to treasure the moments – they come and go very quickly. My youngest bloke has started to play hockey. he likes it and goes OK. I don’t know much about hockey but have enjoyed watching it so far. My journey might be just beginning!

  3. Andrew,
    We sure would have a few tales to tell (many of them shared!),
    Good luck with the hockey…I always said to my boys “I don’t
    care what sport you play, as long as you do something…”

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