Dunking is a Mind Game
And… it’s off to Estonia!
by Kevin Owens
As you all know, I deal with my fair share of questions.
“How tall are you?”
“Do you play basketball?”
The next question on the list is usually, “Can you dunk?”
I’m always amused by this one. I obviously can dunk, but not as easily as most people think. Most of my inquisitors think I am able to dunk without jumping. Either they have horrendous depth perception, or no idea how high a basketball rim is.
With the NBA Dunk Contest this weekend, I figured I would talk about my experiences with dunking. Most people don’t really realize what you think about when you are about to throw one down with authority. In my own personal experience, I tend to over-think every aspect of the game. I am extremely jealous of the athletes who can dunk effortlessly. The mindsets are completely different.
In my mind a typical attempt at a dunk goes something like this…’OK, there’s a rebound, quick sprint the floor. Great job, unfortunately our point guard was dribbling with his head down…typical. OK, back into the offense. Here, screen that guy…Boom, got him good on that one…
‘The play is designed for a jump shot in the right corner. As soon as that ball goes up box out hard in case he shoots it long…He shot it long…typical. Quick grab that board. Alright, got the ball. This guy likes to block shots…throw him an up fake…he went for it…typical. Now’s your chance…jump and try to dunk it…WAIT!! What the hell is that guy doing here??!!
‘Should I still try to dunk, or lay it in and try for an and 1) Am I higher than him? I think so…what should I do?!! Let’s dunk it…POW!! Great Dunk! Time to play to the crowd a little bit…That’ a boy. Alright, not too much…Good stuff. OK, back on defense now.’
To a more athletic person this play may be completely different. First off a superior athlete does not need to run an offense to score. In their minds they are probably thinking…’There’s a rebound…jump over that guy and grab it…Alright I have the ball now, let’s dribble at an accelerated pace down the floor. I am flying through these guys as if they were standing still.
‘Alright where should we take off for this dunk? How bout here…And we are floating…and we are floating…Wow that girl in the fourth row looks amazing…Note to self, invite her out to dinner after the game…Hold on! Why is that guy jumping? He is seriously going to jump with me? I’m going to posterize this fool. POW!! Stare that chump down…Why was he trying to jump with me? Oh well…back on defense.’
Again, two completely different mindsets. It really and truly is an amazing feeling to rise above a defender and dunk. As a professional player it is a fairly common occurrence, but for someone who has never experienced the feeling I hope after reading this it gives you some perspective.
Dunking aside, I received some great news on Wednesday. My agent called me telling me that a team in Estonia was looking for a center. You can imagine how skeptical I was. It is not like this has ever happened before. I held back my joy until I received a contract. I didn’t call my family, I didn’t start going through my “Emergency Leaving Checklist.” I continued doing what I was currently doing. Then I received an email with a contract.
Naturally, I began to push back my reservations. I still wasn’t going to be convinced until I had a plane ticket. Sure enough in the morning, waiting for me in my mailbox was a travel itinerary. Needless to say the remainder of the day was spent in a panicked state, going from store to store and making phone call after phone call.
So now I begin a new journey in Estonia. After all the hard work I put in, after all the sacrifices I have made, I just hope that these three months will be worth the wait.
Kevin Owens is a veteran of overseas professional basketball. His career has spanned over six years and four continents. With a degree in journalism, Owens writes for the blogs Waiting For Godunk and Hugging Harold Reynolds. You can also catch him on Twitter @Waiting4Godunk.