Baby Powder

by Kenny Eller on August 23, 2010

The things I did back when I was a kid learning to play the game of basketball often make me chuckle, looking back.   This is merely one example.

My Dad never played hoops, so I basically taught myself.   I would watch every Chicago Bulls game that WGN broadcast here in Central Florida and study everything.   Everything my young basketball mind could comprehend anyway.

On All-Star weekend I would tape and study the way the 3 pt champions shot the ball.   The Bulls had their share of great shooters over the years.  Craig Hodges, John Paxon, BJ Armstrong, Steve Kerr all shot the ball extremely well.  They were great teachers for me as a youth.

I would go out to our house hoop, a fairly large slab of concrete with a basketball hoop, and shoot for hours.   I did this just about daily, usually with my younger brother.   We would have 3 pt contests and when I was shooting alone, I would have shooting contests against myself.

I was moving between 8th and 9th grade at the time.  Basketball was all I did.

Michael Jordan was of course the biggest influence in my basketball life.   No surprise there, as MJ was the biggest influence in most player’s lives that were born in the late 70s and thereafter.  I would try and emulate everything the man did.   From the soaring to the basket, to practicing fadeaway jumpers.   I would do the head fakes, the footwork, everything.   I studied the guy like a stalker.   Seriously.

Jordan at times during games, would hold the ball in one hand and kind of wave it in front of defenders.   I couldn’t do this, as my hands were too small, but I always thought that was the coolest thing.  I would dream about being able to do that and then slash baseline to the basket and hammer in a dunk over the outstretched arms of the help defender.  Those were the days!

One thing Michael did before every game was shake some talcum powder in his hands and then clap in face of the great, late Johnny Red Kerr before he went out on the court and played.  A couple of fist bumps later, the ball was up in the air, and Jordan was dominating.

I incorporated the talcum powder in my backyard games.  I had to.

I remember finding a large canister of Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder in the house and taking it out to the utility shed that was right next to the court.   At the time my brother and I would play with our neighbor Steve, a grown man who enjoyed basketball, and our neighbor Brian.  None of us were great players.  We were all just having fun playing the game.

Before every game I would shake some baby powder in my small hands and give them a clap.  A tiny cloud of powder in the air, I was now ready!

I never even wondered at the time why MJ would add the talcum powder to his hands.   I just saw the guy do it, and found the closest thing I had and began emulating.

I also never thought that his talcum powder was unscented and mine smelled like a room of babies.  So funny, thinking back:-)

Honestly that baby powder made the ball so slippery to me.  You have to remember I had pretty small hands at the time.  I was around 13 years old and just beginning to hit my first growth spurt.  I might have been all of 5′ 4” at the time.

So at times the ball would slip out of my hand as I was going up for a shot, but that didn’t deter me.  I kept using the baby powder and continued playing.   Continued working on posting up my younger brother and working on the fadeaway, which really wasn’t anything close to a Jordan fadeaway.  In my head though, it was identical.  In my head everything I did on the court was very Jordan like.

I was delusional and it was ok:-)

My baby powder days lasted for a year or so.   I stopped once I made the JV basketball team as a sophomore because it wasn’t an option for me:-)

There is no telling how many bottles of that baby powder I went though back in the day.   All for the goal of one day being able to play like Michael Jordan.

Delusional for sure, but those were the days!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel P. Eller August 23, 2010 at 8:27 am

Sounds all too familiar to me:-). I look forward to following your journey.



Kenny Eller Kenny Eller August 23, 2010 at 8:35 am

Thank you for always keeping me supplied with the Johnson and Johnson’s:-)


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