My Moment in the Sun
I am here today to talk to the sinners. Those of you who curse too much and take the Lord’s name in vain, drink to excess, spread false rumors of others, do not attend religious services and do not pick up your dog’s poop. I am here to tell you that even with all of the bad things you do pretty much every day, that even your dreams can come true.
I had one fairly lofty goal for my three-month stint in Cambodia, a mission where I was conceivably brought in to be a volunteer and lend some of my writing and journalism skills to help out a youth organization. But I arrived on false pretenses. My true mission: Get on the basketball court and dominate. And I am here to tell you that it happened.
I woke up last Sunday at the crack of dawn, literally. In order to participate in an outdoor sport in Cambodia during what’s affectionately known as the hot season (or unaffectionately as rolling blackout season), you must get up early before the temperatures reach 100 degrees (at 10 a.m.). I arrived at the Olympic Stadium basketball courts to a beautiful sunrise, foreshadowing how great the day would be and how much I would shine.
After a little warmup, the challenge came from three hot-shot youths, while I was paired with a couple of stiffs. It didn’t matter. At nearly 6 feet tall I am a monster in Cambodia and was easily the tallest player on the court. I took my rightful position down low, close to the basket and waited for the feasting to begin.
When the first pass came, it hit me — I knew nothing about playing center and had no low post moves. My three pesky opponents converged on me and I forced a shot that missed badly. server ip Fortunately, I have plenty of experience playing in games where my shot isn’t falling so I knew I would have to adjust on the fly.
What I did, was channel my inner Bill Walton. Walton was a superstar center at UCLA in the 1970s and led the Portland Trail Blazers to a world championship in 1977. What made Walton so great was his ability to pass the ball from the center position as well as score with a soft touch. Unfortunately, Cambodians never had the opportunity to witness his skills, since at the time of his ascension as one of the NBA’s best players, a f**king madman was killing more than 2 million of his own people here (I debated whether to include this point in here since it might appear I’m making light of the situation. That’s actually not true, I merely wanted to point out how sometimes our lives in the States are so superficial when millions of people elsewhere face hardships we can’t even imagine).
Back to the game. I quickly became a triple-double machine, setting up my teammates for easy baskets, shooting when no double- or triple-team came my way and grabbing every rebound like the great U.S. diplomat Dennis Rodman. On one occasion when I was sitting out a game, I was quickly asked to return, with a player taking himself out to let me play “because you are strong.”
While my dreams typically end with me slamming home an alley oop, I couldn’t complain about how my day went. Granted, there was tougher competition playing on some of the other courts, but my quest was to be a force on the basketball court no matter the opponent. As the other great U.S. diplomat George W. Bush once famously said: Mission Accomplished.
In my dreams, the Cambodians I played against will long be talking about the Barang (a Khmer word for “Frenchman” that is now applied to all white foreigners) who they were fortunate enough to play with and against. Somewhere, Bill Walton is smiling down on me.
Let this be a lesson to all of you that dreams can come true.