A reluctant role model

Basketball

Karl Barry grew up in a small town in southern Georgia.  The only child of a retired professional basketball player, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Due to his short stature, Karl’s high school coach would advise him to play in the “point-guard” position.  The position needed quick thinking how to elude taller opponents without getting entangled while taking the winning shots to the basket from long distances as well as acute angles.  Karl followed his coach’s advice and over time excelled in the sport.  In fact, in his last two years, he even represented his high school in state championship tournaments.  Karl had hoped that the recruiters from colleges with strong basketball programs in the country would find him a good prospect, thus offering an athletic scholarship. 

But, his short frame betrayed him.  No top basketball program nationwide would select him.  Fortunately, a small college in Alabama, in order to strengthen its sports programs, offered him an athletic scholarship.  Karl soon realized that his genetic make-up predisposed him with his physical attributes.  He would then decide to change the only thing that was under his control, his own game.  Every morning before going to the classes, he would practice taking a minimum of five hundred difficult long-distance shots to the basket from all possible angles.  Secretly, he also started taking dance lessons in the evening.  Again, in his last two years in college, he would represent his team in national championship tournaments playing against the powerhouses and reaching the semi-final level.  Karl would gain national attention from live telecasts of the games.

Yet, history repeated itself.  His college-pedigree became a new obstacle to get selected by most professional teams.  Only in the last round, a well-known ex-champion with a similar profile to Karl’s, now coaching a mediocre team from Florida, would decide to take him.  In his first year, Karl got limited time on the court, but he maintained his level of practice from college days.  In the following year, after getting more playing time, he exploded on the courts, eluding opponents and taking spectacular difficult winning shots from far away.  Championship came at the end of the season, Karl being MVP of the season.  From then on, he never looked back but kept improving himself.  A reputed national newspaper would print an article about Karl’s rise in the profession with embedded videos of his movements on the court.  Famous ballet dancers of the nation would find his moves elegant and flawless, while players would remain in awe while playing against him.

Unbeknownst to him, Karl had already started an underground movement “Believing the Process”.  Young players in smaller colleges, learning the facts about his evolution, would start to emulate his rigorous example of self-improvement.  In last collegiate basketball championship tournament, for the first time several small colleges would qualify to participate.  Many players would display a high level of skills and athleticism, not seen before at the college level. 

Watching telecast games smiling, Karl would begin to see himself in each of them.

 

By Sankar Chatterjee

 

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