Standing only at 5’ 7” on the basketball court, I am easily the shortest person at any pickup game. However, this height disadvantage is merely a representation of my genes not my basketball skills. Although I am not always the best player nor am I the tallest player, I am never the player that you should leave wide open or try to dunk on just because I’m short.
Back when I was in 7th grade. That was when I was a shade under five feet and under 95 pounds. I was on the middle school’s basketball team and rarely received much playing time. Often I would dress up for games, sit on the bench for the full 30 minutes and barely break a sweat.
However, I was determined to fight for playing time. Trying hard to prove that I am better than what my coach had thought I was, I worked on my dribbling, shot countless free throws and ran mile after mile everyday.
After months of practice, coach had finally noticed the improvements in my game. I was running the suicides faster than everyone else, taking more contact than ever, calling my own plays and hitting shots from all angles: I looked “taller” and “bigger” on the court. Finally during one game late in the season, my coach turned his head towards me, gave me a look, hesitated a while and called on my name.
I made sure that coach would not regret putting me in. Scrambling through the well-set screens, I beat my defender and broke through for a wide open pass. Pressured from all angles, my teammate was forced to pass the ball to me. As soon as my fingers felt the cold and hard leather of the basketball, I began to go through all the memories and the pictures of me practicing my shot night after night. Immediately, I sprang off the ground like a new born butterfly from its cocoon and released a high arcing shot that swished smoothly and silently into the hoop, drawing no contact with the rim but a thunderous applause from the crowd.
Then on the defensive end, I quickly recognized a defensive error on the weak side of the court. I quickly sped across to help. An opponent player with the ball came charging towards me. He was at least four inches taller than me. Once again, taking off I leapt off the ground like a pogo stick. Suddenly, I was taller than him and was able to reach for the ball. I put my hand on top of the ball like Diego Maradona, not letting go and slapping the ball away from the hoop. Once again the crowd applauded.
The series of plays happened so fast that I did not realize what I had just accomplished: I have transformed from a once forgotten man on the bench to a new confident self, who is no longer seen as small but “big” on the basketball court.
Maybe the next time I see a shorter person on the court, I’ll tell him “Keep working on your jump shot and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, because you can.”
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