Friday, April 12, 2013

the last book I ever read (David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game, excerpt fourteen)

from The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam:

After the Atlanta game Portland re-signed Jim Brewer. He had been let go early in the season when Luke returned, and he had returned to Cleveland where he had a home, waiting for the phone to ring, trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life. He still wanted to play and Denver, a team struggling with its own limited fortunes, seemed briefly interested, but in the end they had signed a player named Glen Gondrezick, a white player, a Colorado boy, much admired by fans for the way he scrambled on the floor. Brewer’s agent had thought it a white-black decision. Brewer was glad to be back with Portland. “Terrible time for my wife,” he said. “I’m waiting around the house all the time. Every day I’ve got a long list of things I’m supposed to do, but all I do is hang around the house looking at the phone, taking up her space.” The hardest thing for him had been fighting the idea that life was over. “You think basketball is life but it’s not. It’s a front. You’re isolated all those years you’re playing ball. Shielded from everything, like living in a glass bubble. Everyone wants to help you, give you discounts on food and clothes, cars, so they can say Jim Brewer shops here. Or [his voice mimicking the people he knew] ‘we’re giving a party and Jim Brewer’s coming.’ Easy to get the idea that you’re someone that you’re not. Then one day it’s over. The hard part is after the last game. That’s when you need the attention the most and then suddenly it’s not there. Then you have to deal with the fact that it’s still all going on, the players are still there, the coaches are still there and the season ticketholders are still there. You want to say, ‘Hey, my career was too short. I can still jump.’ Every day I had a list of things for the new Jim Brewer to do in his new life. And every day I didn’t do any of them. I sat around the house trying to figure out what went wrong, and waiting for someone to phone and give me another piece of my life.”

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