I’ve never dunked.
The closest I ever came to throwing one down was repeated attempts in high school during gym class. Each attempt thwarted by merely a few inches in jumping ability. At the time, I could take a step or two and grab the rim with both hands, but I never could quite get the ball over the rim and down through the net on those attempts.
It was never really that disappointing though, because the logical side of me knew that jumping would never be how I made an impact on the court. Not being able to dunk just focused my attention more on shooting and defense. While the other guys, who could dunk, would stay on one side of the court attempting things they had seen on the tube, I’d practice shooting.
I had known the thrill of the slam from playing on the adjustable goal at my parents’ home. We would lower it to 9 feet 6 inches and play games of 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. There was nothing better than beating my man while the defense was looking the other way and dunking one. I would get some sort of the feeling Mike had when he went baseline over Pat Ewing. It was awesome!
My reality at 18 years past my birth was not dunking, but just trying to be the best overall player I could be.
I didn’t totally give up on the dream of being a high flyer though. Around the age of 22 I bought a book written by the famed Tim Grover, called Jump Attack. Tim was the guy that trained Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and many others. The list of famed athletes that turn to Tim’s Attack Athletics today is staggering. At the time, it was mostly about MJ.
My brother and I went though the training for a few weeks. It consisted, if I remember right, of a lot of polymetrics and strength training. The workouts in the book were no joke.
At the time I was working in the sports department for a local Orlando TV station and the Orlando Magic had drafted Corey Maggette out of Duke. I saw in the book where Corey also trained with Tim. Maggette could and still can jump out of the building. After one game, in between interviews, I asked Corey about Grover. The training was kicking my butt and I needed to hear from someone with experience if this was really going to help.
Corey confirmed that he did workout with Tim and was emphatic that if I did the workout it would add at least six inches to my vertical. That was exactly what I needed to hear, but I still had questions. I knew that talking about working on my vertical wasn’t the most professional thing to be doing as a young journalist in the making, but I didn’t really care. I had a goal of being able to dunk and we were close to the same age, so I asked away. Corey was beyond nice enough to answer each question and we even compared verticals (verbally), which gave him a good laugh:-)
Imagine not being able to dunk and then talking about your vertical in the locker room of an NBA team, to a guy who has springs in his legs. That’s a enough pressure to make a polar bear sweat:-)
At the time my vertical was around 23.5 inches. Corey’s was around 38-40 inches. Over the following weeks, I would ask a question here and there. He could tell I was into basketball and was really working my way through this book. He even offered to allow me to workout with him during the summer if I wanted to, so that I could see how he prepares and trains.
This was my chance to join the aerial elite! Training with an NBA guy like Maggette would surely take my jumping ability to the next level.
Unfortunately for me, Orlando traded Corey a couple of months later, so that never happened.
I in turn slacked on the Grover workout program and to this day still have not dunked. I haven’t even tried in over nine years.
Today I have little desire to slam, but it would be nice to get some of that limited jumping ability back. When I match up with Jordan I at least need to be able to grab the rim. The last time that happened was 10 years ago:-)
Note: All those looking to improve their vertical, I highly endorse Tim Grover’s Attack Athletics. Don’t let my lack of focus keep you from giving Attack Athletics and Jump Attack a try. While I never achieved my goal, I did see improvement.
For more info on my journey to play Michael Jordan:
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