The Kid Couldn’t Dunk

Tony was 6’10” tall and weight just 191 lbs. When he was young and still 6’8″ he was told he would fill out as he under the basketball hoopgot older. He never filled out, though. He tried strenuous exercise including weight lifting. Even though he was able to bench press 225 pounds with ease he hadn’t filled out much. He was still thin enough to squeeze through spaces the size of a basketball.

When he was ten other kids called him beanpole. Now he was tooth-pick, even though he hated being called that. Being skinny was not the most embarrassing, though. He wasn’t very good at sports. He could catch a football and his long legs and long arms were an advantage, but he couldn’t block and he was easy to take down. If there was a defender around when he caught the ball, it didn’t take too much to disrupt the catch. So, he spent most of his high school football career sitting on the bench.

He liked baseball and he could catch, but couldn’t hit. Getting the bat around quick enough was a problem, so he usually played at the end of the game when his coach put him in the outfield because of his defense.

The worst was basketball. Shooting wasn’t a big problem. He was about average and unlike football, he was good defensively, mostly because he was big enough to get in the way, but he couldn’t jump. Guys shorter than him often dunked over him and that was the rub. He never dunked over anyone. He never dunked. Never. For some reason when he jumped he barely left the floor. He spent hours in the gym squatting as low as he could, then launching himself as high into the air as his body would allow, but it was never very much. Now, he was 22 and he’d been trying to strengthen his legs ever since he was 12 and tall enough that other kids smaller than him were already dunking, but something was wrong. His coaches thought maybe his legs bent wrong or maybe it was his ankles or maybe he just had white guy muscles. Every 6’10” white guy he knew could dunk.

“Wish I could help one of his friends said one day. Maybe it’s your shorts. You’ve been wearing the same kind of shorts as long as I’ve known you.”

Tony laughed.

“Or maybe it’s the shoes,” his friend said. “You remember that commercial when we were little. Michael Jordan and it’s the shoes. You been wearin’ the same brand your whole life, right.”

“It ain’t the shorts and it ain’t the shoes,” Tony said. “It’s my body, God just made me wrong, that’s all.”

A couple weeks later Tony was in a sporting goods store. He needed a new pair of shoes. He picked up a pair of his usual shoes, but as he did another pair caught his eye. They had a pair in his size. He tried them on. They felt good. Most of all, they looked good. He put his usual shoes back and even though the new shoes were a lot more expensive, he bought them. He might not be able to jump, might not be able to dunk, but at least he’d look cool. 

That afternoon all the guys oohed, aahed and whistled over his new shoes. Now they felt even better than they had in the store. The first time down the court he took the ball in for a little layup and to his surprise when he went to bank the ball off the backboard he realized his hand was over the rim. He moved his arm a little and for the first time in his life, dunked the ball.