Saturday, November 20, 2010
For a while there, all I ever wanted to be able to do was dunk a basketball.
I wanted this so badly that in eighth grade, after I had shredded my knee in a CYO game and was going for weekly rehab at a local sports clinic, I actually asked the therapist to give me leg exercises that would help me dunk. He was kind not to laugh at me, a white, bespectacled 14-year-old with feathered bangs and pegged Bugle Boy trousers. He just suggested we focus on adding strength to the knee first.
The closest I ever came was dunking a mini basketball, which really wasn't much in the way of consolation. Have you ever tried to dribble one of those things?
My driveway at home was on a slight slope, so from one side I could come sooooooooo fucking close with a regulation ball. There was one rim out of six on a public court in Sea Isle City that was about three inches low; again, sooooooooo fucking close. That rim is long gone now.
In high school I could grab the rim with both hands and do pull-ups. That felt great until I watched the 5'10" cross-country star casually throw down a few dunks in his socks during open gym.
What the fuck.
I guess certain things are meant to stay just beyond our grasp.
Silly little things. Things like happiness. Or validation. Or understanding the world around you.
Or maybe just the sweet, solid thump of your forearm against the 10-foot rim as your hand throws the ball down into the cords - as nine guys and a two refs stand flat-footed in the paint, on the wing, and just beyond the arc, gazing up at you...