Me, I was never much of an athlete, so I have to cling to a few playground memories.
- Once, in a 2-on-2 pickup game in college, I went on a tear, sinking my patented (but usually terrible) running baseline hook over and over. My buddy and I beat two superior players with that shot plus hardnosed defense, and I'm still proud about it.
- In high school, before I had even learned to shoot an open jumper, some friends schooled me -- in a good way -- about how to play serious man-to-man defense on the blacktop. Later that year, playing in a P.E. game, I caused problems for the best athlete in that class, who was running the point for the other team. (He was from the barrio and knew lots about fixing cars; I was an egghead on the school newspaper.) I knew I impressed him when, as he tried to set up a play from the top of the key, he smiled and said "You don't f--- around, do you?"
- In fourth grade, through a combination of guile, teamwork, and simply running away, I found myself as the last surviving member of my team in flag-tag. My opponent was Billy Piper, by far the best athlete in the elementary school -- the golden boy. Though my teammates watched with dread, in the critical moment I managed a matador's subtle dodge when Billy came at me. I still remember staring at that flag in my hand. For once -- possibly for the first time in my life -- I had delivered victory for my team.