Hoop Dreams

February 4, 2008
I always knew I was going to be a professional basketball player. I could picture myself at 7 feet, 280 pounds, catching the ball on the left side block with my back to the basket and Shaquille O’Neal defending me from behind. His right forearm beaded in sweat, pressing on the small of my back, his outstretched left arm taking away the entire paint. Next, I square up to ole Shaq daddy, deliver a convincing jab step to the right (which shakes the big goober out of his Nikes), blow by him on the baseline, and throw down a dunk with such ferocity that I take the rim with me as my feet touch down on the court. Then, I ceremoniously place the rim around Shaq’s neck and dub him “my b****,” while millions of fans perform the wave.
I had it all planned out: my pose for the Wheaties box (thumbs up with the left hand, palming a basketball with the right, ear-to-ear smile), which country I was going to purchase with my eight figure contract (Costa Rica), and the design of my sneaker line, Air Brendans (white high tops with the initials BO stitched in black thread across the toe). My stats would be a mirror image of Wilt Chamberlain’s: 50 points a game, 25 rebounds, a couple of assists, and about 20,000 women.
So, when my doctor put it to me softly –Looks like you’re peaking at 5’10” –I could feel the lump in my throat working its way up to my eyes; it wasn’t because my growth spurt had ended. It was because my future had gone along with it.

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