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Original Issue


More than any other athletes, basketball players seem to be the occupants of their tall, graceful bodies; when they move down the floor in a galloping hurry of arms and legs, the heads of the players seem to be the calm, intelligent drivers of huge vehicles of attack and defense. When they sit motionless on the bench in their glittering jackets, their heads moving from side to side to follow the action, they seem more than ever the restless operators of their now immobile machines

If you concentrate your view, you can see the faces out of the context of the action—faces stark and dramatic, full of desperation, ambition, fear, hostility; faces out of a play by Sophocles—so concentrated are these men on the game that they play

The ball bounces off the backboard—and again and again the tall figures are tossed aloft like birds in an updraft until one last time the tall center leaves the floor, hangs motionless in the air for a stretched-out instant and sinks the game-winning basket

Hemingway speaks of the emoción produced by the plastic entity of the torero close to the bull—a tight two-figure composition of life and death. Here we have a different sort of emoción—a kinetic joyfulness, an expansive feeling fighting a restraining one

There is an echo in all of us: when the tangled struggle under the basket clears and suddenly there is the clean movement away and up, we too—all of us—soar up for a moment, beat gravity and the opposition and whatever else we fight against from day to day, and triumph heroically