My name is Paul Clegg. I started playing basketball when I was 8 years old at Braddock Park in Queens, New York. I’m 65 and still playing basketball. My game is going full circle. As a kid, older guys at the playground would tell me that I was good — for my age. Now, younger guys are saying the same thing.
I was obsessed with basketball in my teenage years. I wanted to be a high school star in the city where basketball was king. I didn’t have great size or natural ability, but I did have a good eye. A deadly midrange jump shot helped me average 20 points a game as a senior. I made the Long Island Press’ All-Queens team two years in a row. The New York Post picked me third-team all city. That was the peak of my basketball fame. My jump shot attracted Harvard College, but when I got there, I found that jocks ranked far below scholars on the status list. I gave up the game, took up writing and smoking, and gained 40 pounds.
I was an itinerant journalist after college and found that playing adult-league basketball in such outposts as Red Bluff, California, Moscow, Idaho, and Bremerton, Washington, helped smooth a city kid’s transition to small-town life. I moved to California’s capital of Sacramento in late 1977, where I worked as an editor and writer at The Sacramento Bee for 32 years. I played pickup games on asphalt playgrounds until I was 55. When my hip started seriously complaining, I shifted to an athletic club with a hot tub. In late 2005, I had my left hip replaced. I didn’t play ball for two years before my surgery and for three years after. A year ago, I took a buyout from my troubled newspaper. I’m working on my jump shot a lot these days.