Sometimes athletic accomplishments can make your jaw drop, especially when they’re completed by someone who is decades older than fellow competitors.
Brian Barker, 56, of Allyn proved his age was just a number during a 4-on-4 Sunday night pickup basketball game in my hometown of Belfair a few weeks ago.
I hadn’t played basketball with him since last summer, but I quickly discovered not only did he not lose a step, his game improved immensely. Barker was one of the oldest players on the court, but that didn’t stop him from being the best player on the floor.
The half-court games go to the first team to score 11 points. They’re the definition of old-school basketball.
Every player plays stingy man-to-man defense. Screen and rolls are some of the most feared offensive weapons. Ball movement is a staple of everyone’s game.
In the final game of the night, Barker scored eight of our 11 points. Most came off midrange jumpers with defenders in his face. The two players who attempted to cover Barker were at least 25 years younger, but they couldn’t stop him.
Seeing someone that seasoned absolutely dominate people half his age was awesome. Thankfully, I was on his team, and my only job was to pass him the ball as much as possible.
Anyone who is a basketball enthusiast knows the older the player, the more that jumper is going to fall, no matter what.
I have played basketball with and against Barker at open-gym sessions since 2000, when he was in his early 40s. I have only beaten him in a game of one-on-one once. It was during fall 2006. After I won, I celebrated like I had just hit the game-winning shot in the NBA Finals.
Barker has beat me 99 percent of the time during the past 15 years. A myriad of friends have challenged him to games of one-on-one in the past decade, and I can only think of one or two of my buddies who beat him.
The key to Barker’s success is physical fitness. He regularly goes on extensive bike rides, plays basketball, trains on an elliptical machine and goes for runs.
I may only be 31, but if I’m in even half of the physical condition Barker is in when I reach 56 in 2038, I will be thrilled.
The guy is a freak of nature!