One fleeting taste of glory

The winning basket (a memoir)

1 minute read
The author (left) as hero, Fieldston School, New York, 1954: 'I feel like someone else.'
The author (left) as hero, Fieldston School, New York, 1954: 'I feel like someone else.'
1953. Less than 30 seconds to play against our arch high school basketball rival. Tie score. Crowd in an uproar. High drama for a sophomore shooting guard/very small forward. Cigar-chomping coach (unlit in his mouth"“ amazing that it doesn't fall out) has us call time and brings us together to diagram a final play.

It's all kind of a fog. The noise from the crowd is deafening. Coach is calling my name. Line up close to the left out of bounds line. On the in-bounds pass, cut off the center's high post, receive ball for a final shot.

Run as diagrammed. Ball comes to me as I reach the top of the key. Two dribbles, turn toward basket. Let fly with a jumper. Bangs through off the backboard. A moment of disbelief. We win. The crowd explodes. Loudest noise I've ever heard in a small gym.

For a moment I feel like "something else." No, it's more like I know I am special. I can work wonders. The sense of power is briefly overwhelming. Soon it evaporates and I am a mere mortal again. But I've learned a lesson that didn't really hit home until after my college years. What I finally understood was a bit about why very talented athletes feel privileged and empowered.

It's got to be super hard to not let that specialness creep into the rest of your life.♦

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