His name is Silas.
He introduced himself to me before Team Dyniewski, our Legacy basketball team, tipped off against his “Dynasty” in our Monday city rec league game in North Richland Hills. Silas is 7′ 3″, 315 pounds. His arms are eight feet long. His chest ripples with muscles that bulge out in places I don’t think muscles are supposed to grow. His legs are like tree trunks. He’s got a seven foot verticle leap and runs the 40 in 3.7 seconds. He only has one eye in the middle of his forehead. And when he came out onto the floor at the start of the game, my first thought was to throw some raw meat at him. Maybe that’ll stop him.
Of course, I was not assigned to cover Silas. Josh took that responsibility upon himself. In our loose 2-3 zone, my job is to patrol the guards up top. To keep them honest. To contest 20-foot jumpers. I’ll rush the paint and crash the boards once a shot’s up. But never before.
I still don’t know what happened on this particular play about midway through the first half. I remember following my guard to a point just outside the free throw line and then getting caught up in some thick traffic. Somehow, someway, I’ll never know how, I wound up at the baseline, almost directly under the basket. I think I thought my guard had put up a shot. I think I turned to face the basket and track the rebound. Only my guard had definitely not taken a shot. He had skillfully lobbed a nice, high, arcing pass down in the low post to his man, Silas.
I guess Josh and Aaron were both screened. I suppose they both tried to sag down to help but couldn’t make it. I believe with all my heart that they did not contemplate what was about to happen and then consciously make the choice to duck and run for the sidelines. They are my brothers. They would not abandon a teammate to face this certain doom alone.
Silas has the ball. And the only thing standing between him and the basket is me.
I knew I needed to contest this dunk, but I had no earthly idea how. Since my vertical leap is around four inches and most of my muscle is in my head, my only option was to stand where I was and raise my arms as high as they could go. I figured I couldn’t go at him. He would kill me. And I’ve gotta preach Sunday. I would just stand my ground and then jump straight up as high as I could when he went up for the shot.
I should have also closed my eyes.
Silas went up. I bent my legs to prepare to propel myself upward and meet him in the sky. But when I looked and saw his knees rise up above my chest, I crumbled. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. I crumbled.
Silas dunked the ball over me. Right on top of me. I can’t describe to you how thunderous it was. He was up to his elbows in net and just about had my neck in a scissors-lock with his legs. It was loud. It was humiliating. It was…
The defenders in this picture and in this picture are actually contesting the dunks. They’re trying. That’s not what this was at all. I’d like to think what happened to me is what happened to Steve Nash in this picture. He’s actually in there getting mowed down in an effort to take a charge. No. I’m afraid what happened to me is what happened to Shawn Bradley in this picture. The same turning my back and ducking my head. The same pained wincing. The same fear. This is what it looked like. This is what it felt like. Not pretty. Ugly. Complete mismatch. Comical.
Aaron chased the dead ball down in the far corner of the gym and I noticed that he was laughing as he inbounded it to me. I looked at him and started laughing, too. He said, “Dude, are you OK?” I said, “Man, I just got posterized.” And he replied, “Yeah, no kidding!” And then he asked me again, “Are you allright?” And we just kept laughing.
We got killed last night. I don’t even know what the final score was. I distinctly remember Taylor Parrish screaming from the stands during the closing seconds that all we needed was a 17-point shot. So we lost by at least 17. Josh, of course, was ranting and raving all during the second half and immediately afterward. I think he actually foamed up at the mouth there at the end. In our post-game huddle, he vowed that we were not going to be doing things the same way anymore. He swore things were going to be different. He promised he was going to be making some changes. I looked up and asked him, “Are we going to get some of their players?”
He doesn’t see the humor.
Rough night. We lost Aaron with a knee late in the first half. Russ was in Philly on business. Trey’s still not recovered from his back injury. Jared refuses to quit school.
Team Dyniewski is 1-3. We’re bruised. Battered. Beaten up.
I was sitting with Aaron on the bench after the game. He was holding an icepack to his red and swollen knee, unsure if he’d be able to play again this season, hoping he wouldn’t be needing major surgery. And he looked at me and said, “I’ll never forget you getting dunked on like that. I’ve never seen anything like that. No matter what else happened tonight, that was funny.” And we laughed again.
The Silas poster hits stores this weekend. Proceeds will benefit Josh Dyniewski in helping defray some of his counseling costs.