by Izumi Ryu
Sometimes the simplest feats make a bigger difference.
Richard was always the last picked on a team. The guy a team might pick just to be a handicap for a team filled with good players. He might get the lucky rebound and put back, but that was it. You didn't expect a white guy that couldn't even jump a foot off the ground and slowest on the court to do well in a pick up game of basketball.
No one saw what was coming next.
Richard was starting to show signs of fatigue after several minutes in a game. A full court game running back and forth took its toll on someone out of shape. However, he found a second wind when an opponent's shot hit the rim and ricocheted far from the goal. Richard rushed after grabbing onto it and started to put the ball on the ground, dribbling to go back the other direction.
Richard could hear the calls for the ball, anything to get it out of his hands before he lost it. Normally, Richard would reluctantly pass it to his teammate and his role in the play would end there. However, he mentally tuned them out. Something in his mind told him this was his rebound, his play. He approached three point arc along the elbow with a defender approaching him.
Following his first instinct, Richard spun to put his back to the defender, a better position for him to protect the ball. However, within that moment, he looked right to find he created an opening he didn't quite mean to. At that point, Richard gunned it towards the baseline, and arcing towards the rim, his defender kept on him well, able to keep pace with the much slower young man with ease.
The defender didn't expect to be beaten out by something so simple. Richard jumped up, using his momentum to gain some more altitude than he normally could. With his hands within a foot of the rim, he put the ball up and laid it into the hoop. As Richard landed, he looked up to see the ball had bounced around the rim a couple of times before finding the bottom of the net.
Those around him looked surprised for a moment. The defender sure did as he was the one who beat him. Richard just gave a small fist pump before jogging back down the court, accepting a couple of high fives as he returned to his position. It was a small moment, nothing like the high flying dunks or the barrage of threes that people rave all the time.
His role didn't change much after that. He was still mostly a rebounder, never got off much offensively. However, he started noticing the ball started ending up in his hands more, or finding him selected to more teams. He got a few more shots off himself, even the others dubbing him 'Larry Bird' for some of the few feats he did pull off, but nothing could beat the rush he felt the first time taking a defender to the hole.