When I was a kid, I would lace up my black high-top shoes, close my eyes and pretend to be Michael Jordan.
Like most of my friends, I dreamed of hitting the winning shot in the final seconds of game seven of the NBA Finals. I could hear the fans go wild, and I could see my moment played over and over on ESPN’s highlights.
Sometimes those dreams just stay with you.
Last week I laced up those shoes again — it’s been a while since those high school glory days. I took a deep breath and walked out onto the Marriott Center floor. What was I thinking?
I was surrounded by BYU’s basketball team and 24 other dreamers just like me. Each one of them towered over my 6’1″ frame.
“Stand up straight and don’t look scared,” I told myself.
Remember, this is all about good journalism. Being a creative sports writer.
Before actually touching a ball, we were commanded to stretch and perform every conditioning move possible with a series of cones. We jumped, weaved and side-stepped over the cones going forward, backward and sideways. I was unaware that so many combinations of moves were even possible, and I was tired already.
Next, we lined up and were given a chance to prove our offensive and defensive abilities. Being vertically challenged, I didn’t succeed at either. If only I could have channeled my inner Shawn Bradley. During the whole experience I didn’t make one basket or grab one rebound.
Before I knew it, my number was called and I was asked to sit. I was a bench warmer.
Trying out for the basketball team helped me see how impressive the Cougar basketball team really is. This is something I didn’t quite understand by just watching the games on television. The coaches, the players and the athletic staff at BYU know what they are doing, and they do it well.
If you hope to tryout as a walk-on any time soon, the only advice I have is a reiteration of the advice I was given by assistant coach Mark Pope:
“The secret is to play as well as you can,” Pope said.
Or at least grow a few inches.