During my deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, near Abu Dabi, United Arab Emerates, my buddies and I would play basketball after working our 12 hour shifts. There wasn’t much to do besides working out (which I didn’t enjoy at that time), or playing basketball.
We usually played full court if there was enough people. My friends Noel, Mitchell and I were on the same team. We were playing full court and were in the middle of the game when it happened.
Noel blocked a shot from the other team and threw the ball to me. I was on a fast break, all by myself! I went up for a wide open lay up and….MISSED IT! I MISSED A FREAKIN WIDE OPEN LAYUP!!
Now I had two choices. One, would have been what the average player would have done, maintain composure and grab the rebound and put it back up. The second choice I had was to fake an ankle injury. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I grabbed my ankle and fake writhed in pain for a few minutes.
As I put on an Oscar worthy performance, I managed to ask the guy on the bench if he wanted my spot, knowing for sure he would say “yes” and I could swallow my pride and fake limp back to my room. To my surprise, the guy didn’t want to play. Now there was nobody else to take my spot, so at this point, after making a spectacle out of myself, I tried to “push through the pain” and play. But, I couldn’t let them think I missed a wide open lay-up without hurting my ankle. I mean, I missed a wide open lay-up. That kind of sin isn’t easily forgiveable.
So again, I was faced with two choices. I could either “play through the pain” and let everyone continue to have fun and play, or I could oversell my fake injury and save face. I went with the latter. As I limped to the dining facility to get a bag of ice to put on my fake hurt ankle. As my friends followed behind me, upset the game was cut short, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the ridiculousness of what I have done. I felt bad. BUT, I did miss an open lay up. Nothing can erase that.
I got back to my dorm room that night and told my boy Carl Dupree what I had done and he laughed hysterically at my fraudulent injury. Yet, being the awesome wingman that he was, he promised to keep it a secret. I, on the other hand, felt like crap. So what, I missed a wide open lay-up. But my ego and my pride let things spiral out of control.
I spent the next day limping around, answering peoples inquiries about my limp. After the fifth “What did you do?” I decided enough was enough and I pulled the plug on “Operation Fake Ankle Injury.”
That night, I made a “miracolous recovery” and was play ball. To my delight, I ended up ballin’ outta control.
It wasn’t til years later, where I finally let my boy Mitchell in on the secret. How did he respond you may ask? Well, he responded with, “We all knew. We took bets to see how long you were going to keep it up. I won $100 because I gave it less than 24 hours.”
The audacity of my so called “friends!” To assume I would fake an ankle injury just because I missed a lay-up!!