Back to Playing Competitively In A Leage

It’s been about 1.5 years since I played in a basketball league.

Prior to my injury, I was playing in 2-3 league games a week. It brought out the sense of competition in me and I craved knowing I had to improve my game or the high when all cylinders are firing depending on whether we lost or won the game. After the injury, all that went to the wayside as I focused more on strength, recovery, and being able to play pickup without my knee swelling up.

Fast forward almost 3 years, and I’m able to play pickup pretty effortlessly (minus the creaks and pains from getting older). The competition in a pickup game is nowhere near the organized chaos of a league game where points, time management, fouls, and timeouts make the game much more complicated.

When I get back on the court, I wonder if I’ll regain the competitive spirit I once had, or if the game will just be another game of pickup. Knowing myself, I will most likely get competitive again, but will actively avoid driving hard in the paint or attempting a move I physically can’t do. It’s the illustrious “old-man game” I have heard about in my 20s.

You can grind it out in practice, pickup, or the weight room. When the time comes and your “called up” to play again, I think no matter what age or physical condition you are in, that edge will come back. Just as Andre Ingram how he felt last night after 10 years in the D-League:

The ACL Recovery Process As You Age

I recently read b-reddy’s latest post about ACL recovery and it made me think about the optimal age to recover from a torn ACL.

Is there a such thing as an optimal age? Isn’t tearing your ACL bad all around for you? Obviously yes.

However, the physical and mental capacity to deal with the recovery process is underrated and this Brian talks about this a bit in the post. Let’s consider the different age ranges and its implications on your recovery process:

  • Teens – You’re 16 years old and playing JV basketball and tear your ACL in a game. As Brian refers to in the post, you may think your high school basketball career is over. In addition to the lack of ability to play, you miss the camaraderie of bonding with your teammates as they go through the season.
  • 20s – If you didn’t play college or junior college sports, you are most likely a weekend warrior like most new professionals are. This is the optimal age range to tear your ACL in my opinion since you have the maturity and resources to go through with a full recovery protocol. You’ve probably experienced various amounts of pain both emotionally and physically, so are better equipped to withstand the pain to come with recovery. Your knee will also recover quicker the younger you are, but not as quick as when you were in your teens.
  • 30s – Unfortunately, things just get tougher as you age. Your body does not recover as quickly from a traumatic experience (in this case, an invasive surgery) and your athletic activity may be decreasing due to work and family commitments. While you definitely more mature in this age range to deal with the recovery, many may just opt to not go with the surgery since they know their physical activity will not require a lot of sports or side-to-side cutting.
  • 40s – I’m not there yet, but I would assume that unless you are physically active all the time, the surgery may be avoided all together since you want to be able to still play with your kids but not in an athletic sense. Your body definitely will not recover as quickly as when you’re in your 20s but that’s expected.

While it’s never good to tear your ACL, I’m glad it happened in my 20s vs. another age range given that I was already at a certain level of fitness and the recovery process felt like it was like working out to build up a muscle that I’ve been wanting to work out anyway.


J Lin’s Ruptured Patella Tendon

Watching Jeremy Lin’s recent ruptured patella tendon injury brought back memories of when I tore my right ACL.

Up until my injury, I always thought torn ACLs happen through someone running into you at full speed or getting hit in the legs directly. Little did I know a majority of ACL ruptures are non-contact which makes it even more frustrating. You can be strong, flexible, and self-aware but if you just happen to land at the wrong angle, everything can go haywire.

The Slow Realization

The most devastating part of this video is the confusion J Lin has as he’s feeling his knee. A few seconds when you don’t realize what’s wrong, but just know something is definitely not right.

Granted I didn’t fall to the floor bawling my eyes out but I remember feeling that this is something I’ve never experienced before. It was beyond just sucking it up and playing through the rest of the game. It may require surgery.

Now more than 2 years out from surgery, I’m back to playing full speed and not limited to a certain amount of minutes, but I am still mentally aware of not driving into the lane or trying to battle down low since I know that’s where your body can start to contort and twist in ways you have no control over.

Identity Politics & Moderates

I don’t usually write or talk about politics much, but recently came across a few tidbits that have caused me to change the way I view race, identity, and politics.

In one of Sam Harris’ recent podcasts, he discussed the controversy over this Tweet of his:

He talked about how the context of this Tweet is important to recognize. It does seem our current political parties are siding with certain identities be it ethnic, sexual orientation, or simply science vs. non-science. By saying that “white identity politics” is detestable, does that include the white people that were not at Charlottesville? Perhaps he is referring to a certain subsection of whites.

Then this quote was brought up on Bill Maher’s show during his interview with Rev. Jesse Jackson:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice[…] – Martin Luther King

Let’s say we broaden the white moderate to all moderates (generalizing here but I would say this includes people who live in NYC, SF, LA). This made me wonder if all this social-media bashing over the alt-right and neo-nazis by us moderates is just another version of us being “orderly?” When confronted with an issue we disagree with, are we too scared to take action? My hunch is that the characters of the “moderate” has not changed much since MLK’s times.

Thoughts on Westworld

I watched through the entire Westworld series twice. Once a few months ago, and then again on an international flight. The fact that I am writing a blog post about this series shows the impact this show had on me and my thinking about life and the human condition.

Lowest Common Denominator

The one line that summed up the series for me was when Billy tells Dolores that the park doesn’t bring out the worst in people (murder, sex, anything done in excess). Rather, it the park shows you who you really are. For Billy, it meant feeling alive since his real life in the regular world lacked meaning and purpose. This made me wonder: if humans do indeed get the freedom to experience any pleasure or vice without the consequences, would they resort to mass murder and infidelity or  would something greater come from this freedom?

Perhaps when there are no restrictions, more great works of art are produced, greater communities are forged, or new technologies are borne faster than they would otherwise. On a personal level, you might find your true calling in life and pursue your dreams since money will probably lose its significance.

My hunch is that left to our own devices, we would not commit murder and live hedonistic lives contrary to what the park is meant to encourage. The reason I believe this is because we have thousands of years of human history to prove it. Neanderthals and the original sapiens had the freedom to kill and mate but after awhile rules and social norms developed to prevent this behavior. Assuming that you are not in the park alone and there will be other “humans” around, there would be new social norms established between humans and the robots that would prevent such extreme behavior from occurring.

Finding Purpose

When Billy said this line, the first thing I thought about is the current world we live in with all the rules, red tape, and social norms preventing you from living a life of purpose.

The reason I think we cannot live a life of purpose is because we care about what people think and feel.

In the park, you have this general freedom to explore and do whatever you want because you know the robots don’t feel and no one is judging you. Nevertheless, there is the theme that the board and shareholders care about the data collected from the park which most likely includes the data about the guests and their actions. This theme is not too dissimilar from how most corporations act today, so given this fact guests would probably be hesitant to truly live out their deepest desires in the park.

But lets ignore this concept for now and think about why you would wouldn’t feel hindered from doing whatever you want in the park. The robots won’t judge you, and for the most part will not remember any wrongdoings you made in the past. In the real world, our reputations matter, and this social construct prevents us from living a life we want to live because we care about what people think, and in most cases need people to think and judge us to get into the right schools, clubs, and social circles.

The question is, can you live a life of purpose where you do not require other people? For most “career paths,” I think the answer is no.

To bring this back to our world, I would argue this analogy: Westworld’s park is like our regular lives, and Westworld’s “real world” is like our corporate lives. I think most people who work in the white-collar knowledge industry are working for brands and corporations where our identity is professional and polished. Your sexual desires and personal wishes are generally not brought into the workplace and you are–for the most part–sucking on the teat of a corporation to make a living. Cross over to your regular life, and you put down your guard a bit and you become your true self with your friends and family. Sometimes there is crossover between the two, but how awkward is it when you see a co-worker for the first time outside of the workplace? I think this is similar to how the robots in Westworld feel when they learn about the real world outside of the park.

I’ve been thinking more about purpose and meaning lately, as I think about my own career path and those around me. I wonder why people don’t follow their true calling in life or why they hide their passions and hobbies to only be enjoyed on the weekends or after work.