Forget for a moment all the joy, excitement, and delirious "Is this really happening!?!" swellings you would feel if you got to step on the court with LeBron james. Forget that you would immediately call all your friends afterwards and tell them what you just did. Forget that everything that ever happens in your life afterwards would be an unquestionable disappointment.
What if you hurt LeBron? Is it permissible to poke him in the stomach when he goes up for a jumpshot like you do to your friends during pick-up games?
These are all things I considered after getting a chance to run in a scrimmage against the reigning NBA MVP a couple of weeks ago. Well, it was a scrimmage in the very loosest sense of the word. There were teams, and points, and a game clock, but the players were media and blogger types, there were 2:00 minute halves, and... did I mention the players were media and blogger types? The game itself was little more than an excuse for a bunch of woefully unathletic people to run up and down the court chasing errant passes that had sailed out of bounds or shots that missed the basket completely.
Anyway, the point, without going into unnecessary detail, is that moments before the last scrimmage of the day for my team started, LeBron James walked over and decided to substitute himself in on the other team.
LeBron — muscles and muscles and Nike-this and Nike-that and muscles and Jesus Christ, that's LeBron James on the other team.
There was little time to think, since most of that precious time was spent staring at what The King can do even giving 1/100th, if that, of his usual effort. It was the fastest two minutes of my life, and as some girlfriends would bitterly remind me, I've had some fast two minutes. There was little time to do anything but attempt to avoid embarrassment. Which, I did not. (Cue girlfriend joke Part II.)
After climbing the ropes for a dominant, Rodman-esqure rebound (read: I got a loose ball when no one else was around) I turned to attempt a short, fade-away-ish jumper. Rejected. In the background I hear an "Ooooooo." Ball comes back into my hands. I go up again. Rejected again, by the same guy. And in the background, the same voice, that of LeBron James, again utters "Ooooooooo."
Nice. Memory for a lifetime.
Before I knew it, the clock had run from 2:00 down to less than 20 seconds and LeBron had the ball. He crossed half court, looked up, checked the clock, and backed away. Then a swarm of defenders came at him. OK, not really a swarm. We probably tripped over ourselves or otherwise awkwardly approached him, but still, the point was he was now being guarded by three or four people.
Like your father used to do when you were five, LeBron dribbled around and protected the ball as if we were all kids — smiling, playfully bringing the ball close enough to make us think we had a chance, then just as easily pulling it away and left us swiping at air.
The clock counted down: 6... 5... 4... 3...
And with an arm around his waist, another hand slapping his elbow, and — as my friend correctly guessed afterward — me attached firmly to his jock, LeBron let go a half-court jumpshot that was directly on line, but fell just a few inches short.
Afterward, there was the eerie Did That Just Happen Feeling. Then, a sobering and scary thought. There were two different occasion that LeBron drove to the hole and dunked over us underlings. What if I had accidentally tripped him and he tore his ACL? It's not beyond reason. I'm awkward, unskilled, and generally unaware of my surroundings.
What if the MVP, the sole chance for Cleveland to end its championship drought, the catalyst of the Cavs, was felled by a stray, pale, Polish ankle?
I think Steve Bartman would feel bad for me in that scenario. I think I'd be summarily quartered and buried under LeBron's personal barbershop in his mansion. I think one walk down any street in Cleveland and I would beg for such a merciful end.
No good options await in a fate like that.
Which is why it was for the best that when LeBron took off from the three point line and drove towards the hoop, that I politely moved out of the way. After all, if I rejected him, I didn't want King James to have to live with someone on the sideline exclaiming "Ooooooo." That shit sticks with you.
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