My basketball diaries

I wish I were better at basketball. I wish that I were like a whole foot taller, so nobody could even come close to trying anything remotely fancy around me. I’d block every single shot. I’d dunk the ball without breaking a sweat. It would be so totally cheap, but I’d be the best. I’d make it to the NBA, where I’d play a perfect season, not a single loss, not a single missed shot, and then I’d quit, telling everyone that basketball is too easy, too boring. People would beg me to stay, but I’d just shake my head no. But people wouldn’t take the hint, and they’d keep begging me to make a comeback. I’d tell everyone that maybe I’d be open to thinking about possibly playing at the Olympics, for Team USA. But I’d never really commit. And as the date got closer, I’d just kind of sleep in late every day, ignoring all of the missed calls piling up on my cell phone. If people stopped me to ask about it on the street, I’d just keep saying, “What?” over and over again until they went away. But I wouldn’t be a dick or anything. I’d still be really cool to everyone. Cool and down to earth. Cool, laid back, down to earth, but also very, very coy about my future as a professional basketball player. I’d constantly be in talks with a different team. Maybe I’d even warm up now and then. Maybe I’d even go so far as to sign with a team. Maybe I’d even walk out onto the court on an opening night, all dressed up in my basketball uniform. I’d shoot hoops before the game started. Everyone would think, this is it, this is the moment of the biggest comeback in sports history. And the refs would signal that the game is about to get underway here. And I’d step right up to the line for the tip off. And the ref would toss up the ball. And I’d be so much taller than my opponent that I could just stand there and watch as he jumps as high as he can. And right when he’s at the apex of his jump, I’d just reach up my hands and grab the ball, but I wouldn’t toss it back to any of my teammates. I’d just grab it and hold on to it. Then I’d call a timeout, and I’d walk back to the bench, and I’d tell the coach, “Coach, I’ve changed my mind. I’m just not interested in playing pro basketball anymore. It’s just way too easy. Thanks for the opportunity though.” And then I’d get dressed and leave. And all of the reporters would chase after me and ask, “Rob, why would you do something like this?” And I’d say, “Do something like what?” And they would say, “Do something like making a huge deal about making an NBA comeback, going so far as to come seconds to actually playing in a game, and then backing out?” And I’d try to explain, “Isn’t this a free country? Just because I’m tall and happen to be the greatest living basketball player of all time, does that mean that I don’t have a choice, that I have to play pro basketball? I’m not making a big deal out of this; everyone else is.” And they’d all get quiet for a second and I’d just run off into the night, outrunning the press, outrunning the spectators, the fans, the scouts, the other players, everyone. And then maybe I’d disappear for a while. The news about my sudden departure from the season opener would make headlines for a week or two, but after a little bit the noise would quiet down. The team that I would have played for wouldn’t even make the playoffs. In fact, they probably would have bet everything they had just on having me playing with them, and when I left, they’d realized that they didn’t even have one other NBA caliber player left on the team. They all got traded away to save enough money for my contract. So the team would lose every game, every single one, setting up the stage for the complete evaporation of whatever would be left of their fan base. There wouldn’t be a next season for that team. That would be it. They’d go bankrupt and collapse. You would think the whole city would curse my name, try and hunt me down, but they wouldn’t, because like I said, I’d disappear for a while. But then I’d start showing up, years later, sitting in the front row at random pro basketball games in lesser known basketball countries like Lithuania or Italy. And even though I wouldn’t say a word to anybody about what I’m doing there or what my plans are, the speculation would mount. Finally, I’d announce my plans. I’d set up my own sport, called super-basketball. It would be just like regular basketball, but the hoops would be twice as high and the courts five times as big. I’d say that I need a real challenge if I were to play, that I’m looking to sweat. And all the cities across the world would build new stadiums and put together new teams, but right before the NSBA’s season opener, I’d back out. I’d hold a press conference and tell everyone, “You’ve all been so foolish here. Why would you rush to put together such an obviously stupid sport? Just because I told you to? I’ve only played one season of NBA. Forget about me!” And they all would, just like that. And all of the new stadiums would get demolished and the regular NBA would pick up where it left off. And then I’d hold a press conference to tell everyone how disappointed I was that everyone just gave up so easily, just because I told them to. But I’d forget that I had already told everyone to forget about me, and being way too ready to just do everything that I say, they’d all take it literally and would actually have forgotten about me. Nobody would show up to the press conference. Nobody would even let me hold the press conference. They’d all be like, “Who the hell are you?” So now I’d finally have a real shot for an actual comeback. A fresh start. There’d be no pressure, no memories of past greatness and greater disappointments to get in my way.

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