The boys and I have a wide variety of basketball games that we play in the morning before school. Perhaps the oldest is affectionately known as “zero!”

In Zero, the players shoot one after the other, calling out the number of consecutive shots made. You make one, I shout “one!” I make one, you shout “two!” You make another one, I shout “Three!” And so on. Swishes get two points, instead of one.

As soon as someone misses, pretty much everyone shouts “Zero!”

The goal is simply to reach the highest number.

It’s a quick, easy-to-understand game that we’ve been doing for years. Recently, we added some additional rules. First, we all switched to shooting from a line, approximately where the free-throw line would be. The other day, though, we added the put-back. If you miss, but can get catch the basketball on the rebound (before it hits the ground), and throw it back in in a single motion, then you get a point.

It’s drastically raised our scores and made the game much more active. Now, when you shoot, you shoot on the run, charging the basket to get your own rebound.

This morning, one of the boys was having a bad shooting morning, and his brother, as brothers do, was teasing him.

The teaser stepped up to the line, raised the ball, said “now this is how you do it” and then shot, charging forward to catch his rebound in case he missed.

His ball sailed clear over the backboard and into the bushes.

He stumbled to a stop, laughing.

“Zero!” his brother shouted at the top of his lungs.

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