I was born in October. My first basketball season started only a month or two later.
My dad was coaching an 8th grade CYO team and would bring me to most of the games. The player’s mothers would fight over who got to hold me. It got the point when they’d call him beforehand and have dibs on baby duty.
Over the next 20-plus years, I attended thousands of basketball games. I tried recently to put together what the actual number might be, and I can’t even get into the ballpark. My dad continued to coach, moving on to high school and eventually the college level. Meanwhile, my mother, a Villanova Hall of Famer in her playing days, accrued over 400 wins coaching high school girls. My older sisters played for her and collegiately. And of course, I always played too.
Clearly, the game means something to us. I can’t remember a family dinner that didn’t involve a discussion about a motion offense or some distant hoops-related memory. I’ve been immersed in basketball my entire life and I don’t want that to change. I’ve done some coaching and things, but right now my career doesn’t really let me get involved on that level.
So I came here.
I’m going to write about basketball (and occasionally other things) and I hope that the same kind of people find this site. People who care about rivalries and barroom arguments about players and teams. People who will debate if defenses should force toward the baseline or the middle.[i] People who spend their winter Saturdays in front of a television or, better yet, in a gym filled with the squeaking of sneakers.
My dad and I spent a lot of those days together. Driving from gym to gym. Eating soft pretzels. And as those days started to wear on us, one phrase would always come up:
If you’ve ever watched a game at the basketball Mecca, you may not be familiar with the phrase, but you know what it is. The second half or the fourth quarter is heating up and you’ve been on the edge of your seat in those unsupportive bleachers. And this isn’t specific to the Palestra. Any time you’ve watched from rickety bleachers, you’ve felt your lower back seize in pain. Lower backs hate watching basketball.
But the people who’ve felt that pain? The people who I hope will enjoy what I write here?
They love it. They couldn’t care less about Palestra Back. They embrace it. They seek it out. They want to watch basketball and talk basketball and read about it.
If you’re one of these people, welcome to Palestra Back.
[i] The correct answer is baseline. Forcing middle is ridiculous.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor of PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.