ANAHOLA — How many basketball players are drafted at 86 years old?
Mickey McCleery was.
“He was drafted because of his hook shot,” Warren Dastrup said. “Left- or right-handed, he is good on the move from up to the free throw line.”
Dastrup was one of the players on the court at the Anahola Village Park for a regular outing of pickup games of which McCleery is also a part.
“You see the eye patch he’s wearing?” Dastrup asked. “It’s just a ruse, too. But the truth is, Mickey’s good.”
McCleery will be heading to Louisville, Ky., for the Senior Olympics National Finals, playing for a team from Virginia.
“Dick Thompson organized the Senior Olympics program while he was living here,” McCleery said. “But then he moved to Virginia.”
At the finals, McCleery will be playing with Thompson for the national title.
“The tournament starts June 27 and runs through the 30th,” McCleery said. “It’s a team of World War II veterans, and the only reason they picked me is because they’re short-handed.”
McCleery, good-humored about his upcoming trip, said when you’re a World War II vet, you need people on the bench so you can catch your wind.
McCleery is one of the “regulars” at the Wednesday pickup games that he says is also short-handed.
“If you’re over 50, just come down and play for about an hour starting at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays,” Dastrup, another of the regulars along with Wil Welsh, said as McCleery launched a right-handed hook over the defense of Bill Schenck, who used to play high school and college basketball while he lived in San Diego.
“It’s not basketball,” McCleery said. “It’s geezer ball!”