With the rain falling against the pavement like an out of tune musical instrument I found myself walking next to an older gentlemen who had clearly not taken the easy path in life. As the rain drops lit up his tattered unshaven face, the gentleman managed to glance in my direction and under a muted monotonic voice he opened my eyes to lives great adventures. Standing together under the cover of a Portland city bus stop, two ordinary strangers came together to share in our common passion-basketball.
It was at this moment, I discovered my new friend was a basketball legend in the great state of Utah in the early 60’s. He had walked through life’s journey guided by the comfort of a bouncing rubber basketball and a dream to be noticed by one of Oregon’s many high level institutions. Yet, struggles of the street had stabbed my friend; this was clear by his rundown appearance. Leonard-I would come to know him by-had left the confines of his small Utah town as a legend and basketball legends was transplanted in the heart of the Northwest to pursue ‘hope’ and ‘opportunity’ to better his life through the game of basketball.
Not unlike Leonard, I too traveled through life with a found optimism the game of basketball could provide. As we both stood under the bus stop and watched as the rain continued to pound the passing cars on Martin Luther King Avenue, it was clear basketball had provided me with so much and failed embrace Leonard. You see I had found some success as a varsity basketball coach at a young age and later as an author of a series of E-books and founder of a basketball resources website dedicated to providing inexpensive resources to future coaches around the country. In a harsh splash of reality, the integrity of the game had challenged the dreams of us both and walked two total strangers to the breaking point of opportunity. Leonard still searching for his ‘hope’ and I still hoping for the ‘dream’ brought together by the northwest rain, a shelter, and the game of basketball.