Many an old warrior can be inspired by the story of a 73 year old man who was able to play college level basketball. Nicknamed the “Medicare Man”, Ken Mink made the team at Roane State Community College in the USA. Ok, it’s admittedly not top-level basketball, but the guy is 73 years old and he’s playing against 19 year old aspirating athletes all while attending classes. He’s also not a big guy (he’s only 6 feet tall), or very fast (obviously) but he can by his own admission shoot. Coach Randy Nesbit took on feisty old-timer in an effort to raise the teams’ public profile and improve their overall maturity and professionalism. He played in six games.

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this content, install or upgrade by clicking here.

The importance of veteran leadership can also be illustrated with the continued success of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. After dispatching Portland, the current champion Los Angeles and then a young Oklahoma City team they have drawn the series even with the Eastern Conference Champions the Miami Heat at 2-2.

Led by the remarkable play of Dirk Nowitzki who has gone all twelve years of his NBA career without a title, and who’s step back jumper is the latest trend in playground basketball. The Mav’s include long time fantasy basketball star Shawn “The Matrix” Marion (11 years), three point specialist in Peja Stojakovic (12 years), Jason “The Jet” Terry (11 years) and the incredible thirty-eight year year old and sixteen-year NBA vet Jason Kidd. On the other side, Miami features a trio of young supermen leading the opposition. The Heat are young, brash and superbly athletic. The infamous trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all with seven years of NBA experience also have a newly acquired veteran in Mike Bibby; a sort of Jason Kidd clone but also with twelve years of NBA experience. The Heat also feature the occasional sighting of the venerable Juwan Howard of Fab Five fame and who’s increasing large ears match Kidd’s sixteen years of experience and thirty eight years of age.

My point is that old guys can play, especially if they work together and share the basketball. Veteran guys use their experience and this can best be seen during the tentative phases of a basketball game. The Mav’s are rolling with a mixture of luck, skill, chemistry and leadership against the awesome physical abilities and talents of a young Heat team. The pick and roll and side to side ball movement of the Dallas Mavericks will inevitably lose the battle against father time, but hopefully not this year. This is their chance, as the Heat will surely continue to develop their chemistry and add valuable experience and those key veteran players to a roster that is poised to dominate the league for many years. So this is the chance for the veterans, for the old guys and it’s exciting basketball to watch.

In the meanwhile, try to grab an NBA game on the tube, but don’t forget to go out for a run yourself. Get it while it’s hot, and enjoy it while you can as next year we’re expecting a nasty season stopping labor dispute, and you’re not getting any younger!

More on his story here.