Saturday, April 28, 2012

Injury Update

Somewhere, USA--Flaco still is on the "PUP" (physically unable to perform) list, but inside sources say that he is gradually getting into playing shape.
In a heartening development, I ran twenty minutes yesterday, at a clip slightly behind that of my glory days-when exactly these years were, I don't know.  I didn't feel drop-to-the-floor tired, as I did during my first few forays into running after my injury.  After about five instances of running fifteen minutes at a time, I moved up to sixteen minutes two days ago before jumping (pun semi-intended) to twenty minutes (and a few extra seconds, but who's counting?) yesterday. 
"Painful?" my dad asked me.  "How's it feel, does it sting or hurt?"
It doesn't necessarily hurt, except on occasions on which I'm on my feet for extended periods of time, or I'm wearing flimsy dress shoes.  It does, though, feel frozen.  To wit, I'm still not able to do calf raises on my left foot--whether in tandem with the right, or by itself--without grabbing on to a shelf or something about waist to shoulder-level.  The tendon is still quite weak.
Pain, it is said, is weakness leaving the body.  Then bring on the pain...

Rejuvenation or Preservation?

As the NBA regular season winds down, veterans with legitimate hopes of a playoff run--see Bryant, Kobe, and Boston's Big Three--watch most of the final games from the bench, dressed to the nines in the latest and/or costliest fashions.  Tim Duncan was held out of a few of the last regular-season games, with "Old" listed as the reason for his absence.  In my quest to dunk, to get my Brittney Griner on, I picture myself sitting the bench, resting my Achilles tendon, hoping that the doctor, without my permission, made me a guinea pig.  Maybe he wanted to test the latest technology which allowed for me to receive a "boosted" Achilles tendon, one that automatically propels its domain owner to sky in the air, no matter his previous athletic genes and pedigree.  (Although, wouldn't that make it so the receiver of the tendon was only athletically explosive in one leg?)  Ok, end of fantasy...
As I slowly work my way up the mountain that is recovery, I see the glass backboard as half-built and half -destroyed.  Have I been preserved, like a jar of pickles, pungent and acrid upon release, or have I been rejuvenated, like stale bread made new with water and a baking oven?
Have these (almost) nine months since my injury set me back nine months towards my goal of dunking a basketball?  Or has my particular chemistry, my vertical leap, my athleticism, been rejuvenated, an iPhone plugged in and refreshed up to full capacity?
A friend of mine and I argue--too strong of a word, I guess:"argue"--about whether or not someone can "make up" for lost sleep.  A 3:30 am bedtime before a 8:00 am wakeup call-can those three or four hours lost in the pursuit of the golden seven/eight hours be recovered?  Are those hours lost to the sands of time, or can they be recovered by sleeping, say, eleven hours the next night?
Will Kobe come out swinging when his playoff series starts?  Will the games he sat out help him to be a mite quicker, a mite more explosive?  Being that he has played the great majority of the NBA schedule since he was an Afro-sporting, first-step dominating, Brandy Norwood-dating tyke in 1996, one wonders if his knees have grinded a bit too much, if his body has deteriorated a bit more than say someone who has never played in The Summer Olympics-Kobe has played in one Olympics and plans to play in 2012--or 208 playoff games.
Can I get these nine/ten months back?  Has my athleticism been preserved, leaving me just as athletic, but nine months older, or have I been in some propped up by this athletic spinach, giving me a second wind like Popeye?
Is my dunk nine months away, or have I given away nine months and my best chance to dunk?

Sunday, April 15, 2012


A seeming contradiction in mankind's (and, yes, I do use the gender-specific on purpose) world view is that things seem to get better and worse as the years go on. In the same way as "things ain't the way they used to be" with regards to the behavior of youth, the quality of music, the amount of crime, the amount of criminals, the audacity of criminals, the breakdown of manners among the youth, the breakdown among manners among the general population, so too are things somehow assumed to be better, faster, more efficient.
We look at the butt-hugger wearing, set-shot hoisting, three-man-weave in the halfcourt running players of the black-and-white days, and we see a much inferior product than what came with the days of frighteningly fast-twitch fueled athletes like Kobe, Dominique Wilkins, Shaq, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Blake Griffin, and LeBron James.
There is, then, an assumption of a positive correlation between the x and y axes that are time and level of athleticism. If Bob Cousy is the Homo Erectus, then LeBron is the Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
This linear evolution seems completely reasonable to the reasonable person (I'm not talking about the people who claim that "hand-eye coordination" is as significant as jumping ability, or that creating on the typewriter is in some way more pleasurable than creating on the PC). The linear evolution goes from room-sized IBM to the home PC to the iPad, from "Pong" to "Super Mario Bros." to "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare." It goes from Mikan to Wilt to Shaq...wait a minute.
There is your oxymoronic regression, as Wilt, a man who was "ahead of his time" by seemingly millenia, would have to stack up against any athlete from today's modern NBA. Here was a man who forced the NBA to outlaw the dunk for a time to limit his dominance. A man who could run the floor like a guard at 84" plus. A man who defied statisticians by catching, rather than blocking opponents' shots-was this a rebound or a blocked shot?
Wilt averaged plus points in one season, 29+ rebounds for his career, and did all this despite an absymal free throw shooting percentage that would have put his career scoring average into the heavens. It was almost if a man so dominant didn't deign be good at such a pedestrian pursuit as free-throw shooting, because, c'mon, anybody can shoot a decent percentage at the free throw line.
I don't think the NBA will see an appreciable spike in free-throw percentage now, or maybe ever, as that evolutionary scale seems to have come to its logical end.
Can you imagine, though, someone being more athletically dominant than Wilt? Will they be able to best his feat of grabbing a penny from the top of the backboard?
I prefer to watch the black-and-white footage of Wilt, rather than the color footage that followed him into the end of his career in the '70s. In black- and- white, Wilt looks both ancient and modern. A contradiction?
Makes perfect (sort of) sense to me.