My love story with basketball did not exactly start on the right foot.
It was 1997. I had just finished kindergarten and during this time, my dad enrolled me in one of the country’s most popular basketball camps. A few years ago, my dad bought me a ball but I never used it that much. Others would have been excited over these things, but not me. It felt like a punishment because I did not like basketball then.
One day, my parents were watching something on TV. I decided to join them because I was bored and there was nothing else to do. It was Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. I didn’t even know that it was a high-stakes game. Little did I know, it was the famous (or infamous) Flu Game, where Michael Jordan of the Bulls went bonkers with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block. The man carried the Bulls on his back while suffering from “flu-like symptoms”.
It was a magnificent performance that should have captured the heart of any young boy. Wounded hero powers through and saves the day; a story that was cliche but effective in drawing people in. But my basketball journey still did not start there. Weirdly enough, it started in 2002, a year before MJ (truly) called it quits.
By then, I was starting to fall in love with shoes. I wanted to have a pair of the Jordan 18s so much because it was blue and white. Unfortunately, we could not afford such luxuries. I rewatched anime like Slam Dunk and movies such as Like Mike and the Sixth Man. I started to buy old local magazines where they had complete lineups and some pieces on players and teams. I would hang out at a local sporting goods store because they had a shooting contest then. I would frequently spend my free time in front of a computer playing NBA Live.
One day, my dad bought me two DVDs. They were old home videos detailing His Airness’ basketball journey. Come Fly With Me and Air Time were almost on repeat the whole day. The fact that he got cut and had to work hard resonated with me because this is when we realize that is human as well. Because I was young and couldn’t dunk a ball (well to be fair I still can’t dunk now), I would try to replicate how MJ would dribble, particularly the iconic (push-off) crossover he did on Byron Russell in ‘98. When I was in High School, a lot of people yelled out “KOBE!” when they threw crumpled paper away. I was yelling something different. “Michael at the foul line… The shot on Ehlo…. GOOOOOOOOD! THE BULLS WIN!!! THEY WIN!!!” It was pretty long, but hey it was Jordan. The greatest of all time.
This was when my love affair with basketball was at its peak. Every year, I would check lineups of different teams, from local to foreign. I would wait for jersey designs of all the teams that I watched, while also looking at their shoes. When I was in college and our family was breathing a little bit easier financially, I finally got to buy a pair of Air Jordan 12 Obsidians that I really liked. One pair became two. Then it became three. Soon, my collection grew. I did not make it to any organized basketball team, but I still get to play recreationally. I even got an unexpected turn in my life and became a journalist, chronicling the lives of the players and this wonderful sport.
Now, my priorities are a little different, but still with the influence of the Black Panther. I want to be an orthopedic surgeon, and my ultimate dream is to become a team doctor. I may not be wearing a jersey, but I will definitely be a big part of a team’s success.
Videos like these are very powerful. You never know who they can inspire. Now, several years later, a home video series has been made for a new generation of fans.