August 7th, 2004

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I've been playing a lot of basketball at the JCC this summer. Because I usually go straight into a game, I haven't improved my shot much. But I'm doing a better job at some things. For one, my lateral movement has definitely picked up. I'm still slow, mind you -- always was, always will be -- but at least I'm not getting beat off the dribble quite as egregiously as I was a month or two ago.

Today I took another step up, consenting to join the "real" game -- a series of contests to fifteen, to be precise -- that takes place there every Saturday afternoon. That meant playing full court, which doesn't bother me that much, and covering a teenager who was way faster than I ever dreamed of being. More intimidating still, the game featured some of the JCC's premier pick-up players, including former U of A basketball player Corey Williams -- read about his 1994 Final Four performance here -- who plays professionally in Belgium and is a lithe 6' 7" and Rodney Smith, who was one of the standouts in the inaugural season of our Pro-Am League at the JCC and who, as this photo from the Pro-Am dunk contest attests, can really sky for someone about my height:

I didn't play very well. The action was loose -- most of the guys had been at it for over an hour -- and not suited to my style of play, which is to compensate for my innumerable failings by setting delicious blind-side picks. Because both Williams and Smith were on my team, however, I was at least spared the ignominy of getting dunked on repeatedly. There was one time when I went up for a rebound and Williams came from nowhere to beat me to it, but I avoided getting crushed by a few inches.

I did have a few mention-worthy moments, though. I went to set a pick for Williams, who was trash-talking his defender throughout the game, but he waved me off saying -- in the flow of play, naturally -- "If you set a screen for me, he'll whine and say I didn't beat him." On the other hand, I set a nice pick for Smith at the top of the key and he used it. The highlight by a hundred miles, however, was when I received a nice pass just inside the free throw line and made a pretty bounce pass to Smith on the right block, who leapt up -- no running leap this, since he was stationary -- and dunked the ball with one hand over his head.

I've never fed anyone for a dunk before and may never do it again, so please let me live in the glow of this miniscule glory for a day or two. It'll do me a world of good.

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