Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.07.15
Stanstead, Quebec


Basketball & Son

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | I'm watching basketball right now. There have been a couple of times in the past when I should have been writing but, you know, there was a basketball game on. So tonight I figured, why not watch this Toronto-Houston game and write. That's good time-management, and exactly how my son James does his homework.

It's possible, then, that I'm not fully paying attention as I write this; I might make a few errorballs. Airballs. Errors.

I love watching basketball. It's been a long time since I've invested myself emotionally in televised sports. I used to be a big fan of baseball, an affection that survived the heartbreak of the '86 Red Sox but left town when the Montreal Expos did.

As for me and hockey, that's a long, conflicted history that I'll save for another time or maybe a good therapist.

Meanwhile, we became a basketball family. All four of our children have played it, and two out of four have now played beyond high school. It's their mother's genes, trust me.

Boom! Demar DeRozan slam dunk!

Child number three is sitting right here beside me, the one with the TV-homework skills. And eating skills. Constant eating. Also drinking litre after litre of water. This is what athletes do. He'll be up to the bathroom twice in the night, probably. Such is the price of hydrated muscles and clean kidneys.

Good board!

I say things like that: "Good board!" "They need to penetrate the paint." "Drive the lane!" These are expressions I've learned by watching the game. I understand, for instance, that you can say "shoot a three" but you don't want to say "drop a deuce." I know the game, but the intricacies of plays still tend to confound me. Sometimes when I'm listening to the commentators, all I hear is, "If your transition defence doesn't draw the third defender a bath, then you have to swing like your mama don't care in a man-to-man zone for three-point Times Roman, Charles Barkley, Charles Barkley, Charles Barkley."

The Raptors are killing me with their turnovers.

James is good about setting me straight. Like right now I asked him what a two-guard is. I should know this, but bear in mind that much of my early basketball knowledge came from watching 10-year-olds, where the positions are essentially "everybody runs, everybody shoots."

I like these evenings in front of the TV with my son. We're both quiet men (except when we're not) and we don't share a lot of interests (besides food). I read and write. He reads and writes under duress. So sitting here, hanging out, making small comments about the game, James showing me something on his phone or laptop (tonight, what James Harden looks like without the beard; answer: huggable!), it's nice. Plus the boy truly appreciates a good snack; the fourth-quarter leftover steak has just come out.

Big bucket!

I say "Big bucket!" too much.

But that really was a big bucket by DeRozan. 97-96 Toronto!

After years of going without, we subscribed to cable two years ago. It was James's Christmas present so he could watch basketball and other sports. That's when I started watching too. When James isn't playing basketball, he's training for it or watching it. He's gotten tall and is getting big. This year, he started for a majority of the regular season games with the Champlain Cougars. Their announcer calls him James "Deadshot" Murray. His speciality is shooting beyond the arc ("beyond the arc"). I hold my breath when he shoots those.

He has one more year at Champlain College and then who knows where basketball will take him. I hope it goes on; I love watching him play. Regardless, I appreciate where basketball has already taken him and his sisters so far, what it's brought them: discipline and focus, a sense of fair play, friendship. I love that there is no fighting in basketball. I think basketball should be Canada's game, but again, that's a topic for another time.

Starting this summer, James will be sharing an apartment with his sister in Lennoxville. It's time for him to move out, and not only because of our grocery bill. It's just time.

I wonder if we'll keep the cable. I wonder if I'll keep watching basketball. I wonder if I'll have someone to kibitz with on the couch. Hey, Abby, come here; lemme explain what a clear-path foul is.

Tonight, though, I made a little "Yes!" pump-and-jump on a defensive stop, and James chuckled at me. "Big stop!" Tonight, the Raptors beat the Rockets 99-96, Final Four this weekend, James's provincials next weekend, and the playoffs are coming.

Tonight was a good night.