My Height: A Short Story (Part 2)

Dear Michael and Caroline,

Well, my grandmother turned out to be telling me the truth. In the next two years, I probably added about four inches, reaching maybe five-four, 120 pounds, by age 15.And over the next two years, the pattern largely held true, with me gaining another five inches or so, making it to about five-nine, 140 or 150.

And even after I got my driver’s license, at 17, I picked up another inch, arriving at my final destination of five-ten-and-a-half.

But in all the years since then – and it’s now four whole decades, I’ve learned some lessons about height.

For starters, I never quite outgrew the feeling of being short.And so I always find myself rooting for the shortest basketball players. It thrilled me that in 1986 the NBA slam-dunk contest champion was won by five-six Spudd Webb (and last year by five-nine New York Knick Nate Robinson).

And I often found the shortest players both the best teammates and the toughest opponents on the basketball court. I’d rather go up against a taller player almost any day. In my experience, shorter players always have more to prove – after all, they’re short – and what’s more, they know they have more to prove.

As a result, they play harder.They run faster and longer, fueled by extra incentive.They also tend to be quicker.

Tall players, on the other hand, know they have less to prove.Sometimes it’s as if being tall all by itself is enough to do the job.In general, taller players tend to try less hard, take the game for granted, even play lazy.I almost never worry about going up against taller players.

No, it’s the shorter players you have to watch out for.It’s the shortest players I always find the toughest to stop.

P.S. – Is height a factor in your family? How so?

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