I’m 13 and I’m playing in the first organized basketball game of my life. My uniform doesn’t fit, because I didn’t join the team until halfway into the season and was stuck with whatever was available. There’s two minutes left in the losing game, and so I am called from the end of the bench of people I don’t know by a coach I only met the week before. Hitching up my too-big-shorts the entire way, I make my way to the officials table to check in.
Aside from my parents, no one in the gymnasium, including my coach or teammates, really have any idea who I am. Just some kid with a weird accident and zero talent for the game of basketball. I check in and just point at the kid I’m replacing because I’ve forgotten his name.
The kid inbounding ball never looks my way, though to be fair I probably wasn’t in the right place anyway. I amble down the court holding up my shorts with one hand while the tank-top jersey threatens to spill off one shoulder in a way that would be provocative on a supermodel, but on me would just look like a pot roast falling out of a grocery bag.
The ball is passed around a couple of times and, through a series of mistakes I can’t fully explain, ends up in my hands. I take three steps and shoot the ball. Three things happen at that moment:
The first is that I get penalized for traveling — apparently you have to throw the ball at the ground periodically to move.
The second is that the ball flies over the entire backboard and lands out of bounds.
The third is that I say a word that is not welcome in eighth grade sporting events, and get called for a technical foul.
You will be surprised to learn at this point that I stayed on my high school’s basketball team until I graduated.