By Mike Madden (@_michael_madden)
In third grade, I devised my last five-year plan — “last” in the sense that it’s my most recent one, and in the sense that it might be my last one, period.
At school, there was the half-court with the eight-foot hoop, and I’m telling you, I dominated that place. I buried threes from all angles. I ingrained my right-to-left and left-to-right crossovers. I developed the stealthiness of my reverse layups.
Eventually, the fourth- and fifth-graders took notice of the kid in the Garnett jersey, inviting me to play with them at the full court, the one with the 10-foot hoop. The majority of these Big Kids, though, were flat-out better than me — and yes, they were bigger too. I was short to begin with, and kids a foot taller than me rejected practically every shot I took.
Whatever, I thought. My hoop dreams weren’t deflated; this was just a reality check. I determined my path for the years up to and including eighth grade. By then, I’d be ready to play varsity.
Traveling basketball — the big leagues — would start in fifth grade, and in the meantime I’d improve my game at recess, at the park across the street from my building, and (in the winter) at the community center. I figured that, when the time came, I’d not only make the A team, I’d be a starter too.
As it turned out, I made the cut, but I wasn’t able to put in all those hours.
During the previous summer — the one between fourth and fifth grade — I had taken a course about music technology, picked up guitar, and vowed to form the next Rage Against the Machine. That phase passed within a couple years, too, and ever since, I’ve been learning that projecting into the future isn’t terribly effective when it’s your one project for the day. Basically, I try to keep on my toes now — whether or not they’re snug inside a pair of basketball shoes.
With that said, I will still exterminate anyone in a free throw contest. Get at me.