Dear Kyle Korver, I understand.
I know what you clearly knew when you darted out of Lebron James’s inevitable path to the rim last night. You clearly know the pain, the futility of being a grown man and getting dunked on by another grown man. I know this because it happened to me. Three weeks ago. In a semi-competitive rec league.
I can’t relate to the offensive parts of your game — my recent stat lines include zero points for roughly three straight games (give or take). But I can relate to the pain, the shame, the frustration, and anguish that come with a man elevating so high in relation to you, both figuratively and literally, that his testicles swing uncomfortably close to your face.
Honestly, I didn’t even see it. I only kind of heard it, and only fully understood in the aftermath, when I saw everyone else’s reaction.
What happened was this: We were losing, much like you were. The best player on the other team — a short, lightning quick point-guard who I now know played in college — grabbed a loose ball and shot up court. I could have let him go, but my childish agony over losing — and my own personal sports frustrations spurred me to not go quietly into that good night. I raged, raged against the dying of that game’s light by sprinting after him. I caught up just as he elevated for what I thought was a routine layup.
I fouled him — hard. Or I tried to. He had already leapt so quickly and smoothly that my physical contact was barely a nuisance. In a flash he was, essentially, sitting on my shoulder. I knew two things at the time: One, that I was hearing an unfamiliar sound of an iron rim reverberating against a glass backboard; two, that this guy’s balls were resting on my bicep.
We landed on the floor in a heap. He stared me down, either because he had just owned me in public or because my foul was as uncalled for as it was useless (and ignored). I stared back because I had made an injury-preventing effort to catch him, or at least to break his fall, on his way down — an effort that I thought deserved some appreciation.
But here’s the thing: When you get owned like that, you have to take whatever comes with it. From the dunker, it was scorn. From the other guys on the court, light-hearted mocking (that deservedly continues, a month later, and will likely be referenced at my wake should I die in the next decade). I mean, it’s a rec league, and not an impressive one. I don’t think anyone had even considered dunking was even on the table. I obviously had not.
So I learned the hard way, Kyle, what you obviously knew already, which is that when you feel a posterization coming on you, either completely tackle the other guy and get ready for a fight, or you just get the hell out of the way and keep on living. Neither choice is noble, and I say that as someone whose games aren’t internationally televised, or typically watched by anyone other than a bored security guard. You lose either way, so both options are fully acceptable. So to you, I say this, Kyle: No shame. Today is a new day.