Play with the Pros: Slam dunk

Basketball at a high level is a sport where 6-foot-7 is the average height of an athlete.

Let’s imagine for a second that I am a skilled basketball player. (I’m not, in case you were curious.) So skilled, in fact, that I was signed by an NBA team.

At a towering 5-foot-9-ish, I’d just barely avoid making the top 10 list of the shortest NBA players ever.

Basketball at a high level is a sport where 6-foot-7 is the average height of an athlete. So I can use that as my excuse for not being skilled.

Chris McLaughlin, on the other hand, is 6-foot-10 and has helped steer the UVic Vikes to a 9-1 record this season so far on the court.

“Basketball’s just something I’ve always played and something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve always been big and it’s something that people kind of push you towards naturally: ‘Oh, you’re big. You must play basketball,’” he says. “That turned into me playing more and more. And once it got more competitive, I kind of fell in love with it and played it ever since.”

Playing one-on-one with McLaughlin is intimidating and completely unfair. His reach, his vertical jump and his speed make it impossible for me to ever touch the ball.

At 2-0 I concede, and suggest a game with a more level playing field (where skill is all that counts): 21.

The game’s over in under two minutes – his 21 points to my 2. But that doesn’t deter me from pushing ahead.

New rules: we play until I make 21, and Chris can just keep racking up the points until I get there.

As the number of air balls I get surpasses my points total, Chris effortlessly sinks ball after ball after ball. It’s kind of hypnotic watching swish after swish, and I’m now convinced he’s part robot.

Some 20 minutes and dozens of missed shots later, I finally sink my last basket to end the game. Final score: 282-21.

“You did…” the 21-year-old geography student says before taking a long pause, “… better than I thought you’d do. It takes practise. I feel like you haven’t been practising very much. You don’t look too confident out there.”

I haven’t been practising and I’m certainly not confident, but he says those attributes are more important than my height.

“Yeah, height does factor in, but at the same time there are a lot of small point guards that have made it very far,” he says.

Okay, I have no excuses now. I just suck at basketball.

GO VIKES GO

In November McLaughlin was named one of the best university athletes in Canada West for the week, after leading the team to two victories against the University of the Fraser Valley. He has 160 points in 10 games.

The UVic Vikes men’s basketball team is currently on winter break, but the second half of the season starts up again in mid-January. Home games happen Jan. 10, 11, 24, and 25, and Feb. 7, 8 and 14 in the McKinnon Gym at UVic. For tickets, visit govikesgo.com/tickets.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria brewery throws support behind still-operating restaurants

Vancouver Island Brewing initiates #TakeOutTuesday to keep local eateries in the public eye

LIVE MUSIC: Artist in Residence reaching into the community

Kathryn Calder to perform livestream show on YouTube channel this Friday, April 3

Victoria vocalist Maria Manna reaches out to hard-hit Italy with special online song

Jazz singer to perform ‘Hymn to Freedom’ with Italian lyrics on Facebook at 2 p.m. Monday

Royal BC Museum joins home education trend for outreach programs

Free webinar options available for RBCM@Home and kids’ programs, starting March 31

Stars On Ice tour cancelled for the first time in 34 years due to pandemic

The show was supposed to hit the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on May 12

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

Hip tradition sing-along planned again for Canadians April 2

The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois is encouraging all to join him virtually in a’Porch Session.’

Vancouver Island musicians in quarantine thank neighbours with backyard performance

Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra director Karl Rainer and his sons play for those in self-isolation

Order of Canada Vancouver Island musician pens ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’

Qualicum Beach lawyer and saxophonist Phil Dwyer notes health officer has become a ‘folk hero’

Campbell River journalist launches Isolationpalooza II

Featuring all local musicians, a volunteer virtual concert, of sorts

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Netflix reducing video quality in Canada to lower Internet bandwidth use

Bell Media is also planning traffic measures affecting the Crave streaming service

Will the show go on? B.C. music festivals consider options for 2020

Summer events running out of time to stay on schedule, in wake of COVID-19 uncertainties

Most Read