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In need of an Afro


January 26, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

I ventured onto the basketball court earlier this week and found my game was sorely lacking.

I had been absent for the hardwood (I was actually playing on cement) for about a year, so it's no wonder my jump shot was harder than a brick or that my passes were less than crisp.

As for my dribbling, well, I never could do that anyway, so I wasn't surprised when a couple balls bounced off my foot as I tried to attack the basket.

No, none of these things really shocked me and quite frankly, they weren't what I was missing. What I quickly came to realize was that I needed a gimmick.


A gimmick, you say? Yes, (I can almost hear my father moaning as I write this) what I need is that special something that separates the men from the boys, the superstars from the 12th men, the answers from the questions.

And after much deliberation I have come to a conclusion about just what this gimmick will be. I contemplated them all; the knee pads, elbow pads, head bands, wrist bands. I thought the baggy shorts might be nice, but then I realized my shorts were already pretty baggy and if they got any more so I just might trip over them. I thought about playing with no socks, but that seemed wrong. Thus I contemplated the other extreme, but I was never much of a Michael Cooper fan.

I liked the idea of covering my arms, back and neck in tattoos, but that would take much more time than I have as I need to get my game in tip-top form for the Imperial Valley Press basketball league.

Then it occurred to me. What I need is an Afro. Let me state right now that I did consider cornrows, but I think they've been overdone at this point. No, what the world needs now is another Afro and let me tell you, I'm the man to grow it.

I've got all the necessary tools. I guess the only tool I really need is curly hair that is wound too tight and I certainly have that. I've decided that it's time, time for this head of mine to get a little bigger, literally.

I can't say this is the first time I've wanted to have an Afro. No, back in '80s, when I realized I could never feather my hair, I thought about growing it out. Yes, I was going to have it just like Oscar Gamble's looked on an old baseball card I had. I always admired Oscar's hair. There he sat on that card, a tiny Yankees hat atop a mass of hair the likes of which I'd never seen. His hair seemed to stretch the entire width of the card and that was something to be admired. At least that's what I thought. Well, that attempt at an Afro ended sooner than I'd wanted as after about a month my mom took me to the mall and made the people at Regis cut my hair.

This time, however, I will not let it fail, for this time I need the power of the 'fro to help me realize my potential as a basketball superstar.

I'm sure many of you (my father especially) are thinking what does an Afro, or any sort of gimmick, have to do with playing good basketball? Well, I say you're all being too short-sighted. All great basketball players of the 21st century have something working for them besides their game. Allen Iverson has cornrows and tattoos, Kobe Bryant has the mini-Afro and well, quite frankly, all NBA players have some sort of trademark. Now, it's time for me to get mine.

Don't think I'm aiming low either. The mini-'fros sported by Kobe and Rasheed Wallace are nice, but I'm setting my sights a bit higher. And this isn't going to be any sort of Justin Timberlake thing either, where my curly hair just sticks up a little too high. No, I'm aiming for Keith Closs size to begin with and then, who knows, maybe I'll take a shot at getting this thing Gamble-sized.

It certainly will be a lot less work than practicing my jump shot.

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