Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Greatest Shot of My Life.

I'm going back this evening. Back to a time and a place that I miss very much. A time in my life where I dare say, things were normal. We lived in a trailer in Green Acres trailer park in Okay, Ok. My first best friend, who I will call Brooklyn, had moved away, and we had bought their lot. One of the first things that my father did was poor a cement slab, and he put up my first basketball goal. To this day, I give him all the credit for me being hooked on basketball. What started as him wanting to shoot hoops with his boys, turned into an obsession for me.

The year is 93, and the place is my back yard. The one thing that didn't change when Brooklyn moved away was the old sycamore tree that was growing in the yard. That tree used to be a meeting place for her and I, and we'd sit and talk, and do things to just generally get us in trouble. I don't even know if she'll read this, but don't you miss it? We both had dads then...

Back to the shot. It was a summer day, and all was still. I was 11 years old, and in my prime. (by prime I mean I was around 5'6" and weighed in at around 79 pounds) It was around the time for my dad to come home from work, and I was wrapping up a day of shooting hoops. I was resting in the shade of my sycamore tree, and thinking about taking a last shot before going in. A lot of boys play the game, "buzzer beater." If you are not familiar, this is where you give yourself a countdown to zero, and lauch up a shot from wherever you are, and try to be the hero no one will ever see. If you make it, you are that hero. If you don't...well, ususally you were fouled. I was fortunate enough to live this moment twice during a game WHILE people were watching, but on this day, it was me and my dreams.

:03 The air is still as I move away from the tree, the fans screaming in my ears. Knowing I have to be the hero, and knowing I can't quite make it from here, I move closer to the goal.

:02 I decide I'm going to attempt a longer shot than I ever have before. The crowd seems to sense this, and they react by screaming even louder, knowing I'll make the shot.

:01 I take the shot. I heave the ball up from around 35 feet. (Remember, I'm 11, and 35 feet is about red line distance on a real ball court. Or for those of you with no volleyball program, its the hash mark.) Either way, it was a long shot. The longest I had ever attempted.

:00 Silence rules the day. Time has stopped, and nothing is moving except for the ball. I know the second it leaves my hands that it has the distance. I can remember the spinning of the ball, and how it looked as it went up towards that old, faded and weathered red white and blue net we had. At the halfway point I can see that it is going in, and I raise my arms in victory. As if fulfilling my prophecy, the ball drops into the bucket and caresses the net in its spin. Matter of fact, it caresses it SO much, that the net curls up around that ball, and the momentum breaks the net off. The ball falls to the ground, encapsulated by the net, and hits the ground and stays. No bounce, no roll, nothing. Stillness prevails. The birds stop chirping and I knew...

I am in SOOOOO much trouble.

This is the greatest shot of my life, I know that. Yet all I can think about is how pissed dad will be when he sees that I ripped the net off. If he was alive today, he still would not believe my story, and no one else does either. I did get in trouble, and I believe I had to pay for a new net.

I didn't care, it was so worth it. Those were the greatest 3 seconds I've ever had with a basketball in my hand. Thanks Dad, and I love you.