They’re Baaaaa-aack
by Walt Shepperd - Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The Baby Boomers Basketball League will be ballin’ in a new ’hood

When his B&B Lounge team lost in the semifinals of last season’s Baby Boomers (over 40) Basketball League (BBBL) playoffs, former Henninger High School and Syracuse University standout Lazarus Sims said he would definitely be back on the Southwest Community Center court this season.

“This is my neighborhood,” he said then.

If Sims, the coach at SUNY Binghamton, will indeed be suited up for the eight-team league opener on Sunday, Nov. 17, at noon, it won’t be on the hardwood that has been host to the action for the past 15 years. This year’s games will be played at McChesney Park, behind Grant School, 2300 Grant Blvd.

“It was a money issue with the building,” explains Julius “Pops” Anderson, who has played on eight league championship teams and had announced that last year would be his last run. “I think they wanted us to come up with $8,000 {for utilities} beyond the $600 registration fee each team was already paying.”

During the season, the players chip in each game to cover the $40 charge for each of two referees. The relocation was facilitated by Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs’ Jesse Brantley, who plays for B&B Lounge.

“As far as the players, I don’t think it would,” Anderson said as he projected on the effect of the move. “But on family and friends {spectators}, I think it would, a great deal.”

That assessment is shared by Howard Triche, 49, who teamed with Anderson for a state championship at Corcoran High School before toiling for SU and in the NBA. The two combined for BBBL championships with Ballard Construction, but Triche missed last year’s finals with a knee injury. He says he may need surgery but will want to get back in shape for the next year.

“My goal,” he says, “is at 50 to still be able to dunk.”

Anderson, 52, has rescinded his decision to bow out of league play, having broken his wrist in last year’s loss in the finals to Flav Unit, maintaining that even without Triche he can go out a winner this year, with teammates including former Nottingham High School star Pony Bullock and former Le Moyne College standout Bobby Chestnut.

One serious difference resulting from the move will be the absence of the finger-lickin’ soul food spreads which provided a major attraction at Southwest.

“It won’t stop the guys from playing,” Triche notes. “They’ll whine for awhile, but they want the competition. They’ve played against each other going back to the playgrounds and in school. It keeps people coming back because they want to see what they can still do, even though their bodies don’t always let them. In the first few games, they tend to see how out of shape they are.”

One attraction that remains: The 16-game Sunday schedules are open to the public free of charge. Another is the acerbic courtside commentary, especially on questionable calls by the officials, provided loudly by league co-founder Ed Mitchell, as he operates the electronic scoreboard and game clock.