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My interest in basketball originated in Lawrence, Massachusetts - kind of

Bill Russell's former home, Reading, MA

How the Hell did a 5'9" guy with limited athleticism get so involved with basketball? Well, I have to give credit to the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. No, I didn't live there, but my high school friend did - until he moved next door to me in Reading, Massachusetts.

As I learned later, it appears that every young male in Lawrence played basketball. My friend, Dick, did, and he got me interested. A hoop in the back yard was the start, even though it was a late one by most standards - with me as a high school senior.

Then came college in Lowell, Mass. where most of my friends came from nearby Lawrence - and yes, played basketball. We played in the college gym constantly - between classes - during skipped classes - during any spare moments.

Later in life it was pickup games at the YMCA and a few leagues, but nothing more organized than that. Early on, when I wasn't seeing the ball much, I learned from Bill Russell's book that rebounds usually came off the opposite side of the hoop from which the shot was taken - and became an ace rebounder despite my size disadvantage, getting great position and going after every errant shot. Russ just happened to be a neighbor, living down the street in Reading. 

If I wasn't going to be passed the ball, I was going to get it myself. Taking down offensive and defensive rebounds got the job done. I played tough defense and could occasionally get on an offensive roll. I played almost every day. I just loved the game.

A severe knee injury cut my playing career short in my mid-30's, but I maintained interest in the game, watching the pros and college kids, and even Biddy leagues. Now I write about basketball and the Boston Celtics. 

My friend, Dick, passed away years ago. At what is now known as UMass/Lowell, as a freshman we were assigned alphabetically. My Lawrence friends were named LaScola, LaPierre, Lally and Langevin. They all left or flunked out. Must have been the classes missed in favor of hoops. I graduated. Still don't comprehend how! 

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