When your dad is Mr. 100%

Laura Lehmann on Nov 20, 2015 10:20 AM
When your dad is Mr. 100%
“My dad always gave me the freedom to choose whoever I wanted to be. He was not someone who pushed me but more of someone who guided me. If I did choose to play basketball though, my dad always said that ‘I better do it right’." - Aaron Black

One would think that being the son of Norman Black brings so much pressure. Just imagine - your dad is a former two-time Best Import, an 11-time PBA champion coach, a five-time UAAP champion coach and Mr. 100% and you, his son, are tasked to bear his legacy. But as difficult it may seem, this assumption is merely at surface level and in reality, Aaron Black is not the least bit burdened. To him, it’s an honor to have “the best dad in the world” and after speaking with Aaron for just a few minutes, it’s easy to see why he feels this way.

As the son of Coach Norman, Aaron and his father have more or less a typical father-son relationship. They love cars, video games and anything sports-related. Ironically however, Coach Norman is not a fan of the well-known NBA 2K15 game and Aaron jokes that as a coach, he critiques too thoroughly what is supposed to be a fun way to let off steam. Either that, Aaron laughs, or “because he loses bad to me”. The two spend more of their time playing Madden NFL and both are huge fans of the American football league.

Likened to his choice of sporty video games, Aaron says that’s he’s been playing sports all his life. His parents hung a mini basketball hoop in their bedroom and he spent most of his time around it as a baby. When he was four or five, he even joined his father when he hosted basketball clinics for older kids in the village league. But despite such ample baller exposure, basketball was not at all Aaron’s first sport. In fact he was more attuned to soccer as a child and nearly committed to playing on his grade school’s varsity team. Had he not moved from Xavier to Ateneo in Grade 3, when Coach Norman became coach of the Blue Eagles, Aaron would have probably played for the DLSU Football team. It was this move that founded Aaron’s basketball career and according to him, “that’s really when it all began”.

As Coach Norman grew with Ateneo history, so did Aaron on the grade school team. The duo would play in the village court twice or thrice a week and slowly but surely Coach Norman bestowed on his son the skills, technique and discipline he was known for. Aaron however says with conviction that his father “never imposed basketball on me”.

“My dad always gave me the freedom to choose whoever I wanted to be. He was not someone who pushed me but more of someone who guided me. If I did choose to play basketball though, my dad always said that ‘I better do it right’. He said nothing beats working hard and that basketball will take up most of my time and most of my life”.

And so, while Coach Norman was busy leading the Blue Eagles to a five-peat, he also got parenting right from behind the scenes. Aaron developed a love for basketball that was, perhaps, already cemented in his destiny. The apple after all does not fall far from the tree. But according to the 19-year old, things only got serious after a very bad injury. “I had ACL in my 3rd year of high school. I couldn’t play for six months and I think that made me learn to appreciate basketball. All this time I took it for granted and I never imagined what life would be like without it. It was hard for me”. The injury was a blessing in disguise and since then Aaron has not only taken better care of his body, but he has also learned to cherish sports more heartedly.

With his recent entrance in the UAAP donning a #8 jersey, Aaron says that he and his father have become a tighter tandem. They talk more often about the games, the players, the teams and it is without a doubt that Coach Norman has wisdom to offer. In the car rides home from games, they chat about what worked well or what went wrong and sometimes, Aaron says, even his mom joins in with the analysis. Basketball is central to their family and one day soon, father and son will meet face-to-face in the pro-league. And while Aaron would love to play for his father’s team, he says laughingly that playing against him would be just as great a fantasy.

From the outside looking in, Norman and Aaron Black are a basketball tandem too worthy of normal categories. But to those who know them from well behind the scenes, Aaron and his father are in truth very simple, very normal, and very akin to your everyday father-son team. Perhaps what is more defining of their relationship is the way in which Coach Norman, despite his legacy, gave his son the freedom to choose what he wanted to be. There is no doubt in my mind that Aaron will honor his legacy.

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