Because Stultz used to look at the floor when he shot and because Bradley said that anyone could learn to do it, I have looked away and shot for more than 30 years. And in only the Impossible Shot has there been any improvement over the years. I still dribble as if I'm pushing away a beagle, and on my jump shot I never get off the floor. I take that back—I have shown improvement in two areas. I have spotted some of the greats before they got there. I predicted that Elgin Baylor would be a superstar when he and R. C. Owens were playing for College of Idaho. And as soon as I saw the UCLA freshmen play in 1966, I made three bets totaling $35 that the UCLA varsity would not lose a game the next season, and, of course, they won and I won.
But back in school I wasn't good at basketball or anything else. I didn't realize that a kid of 14 usually isn't good at anything. I thought normal red-blooded American boys had to dive off bridges, apply artificial resuscitation and win games. But I never seemed to succeed.
I tried breath holding, underwater swimming, even first aid. For instance, for three months I carried adhesive tape. I hoped for a bloody, but not too bloody, accident, preferably involving Elizabeth Something, a long-haired blonde with big eyes she never opened all the way. Finally the accident happened during a high school picnic that ended at a roller-skating rink.
It wasn't Sloe Eyes; it was a pretty red-haired sophomore who flew off her feet into the boards and grazed her knuckles. I admit it, I clipped her. She landed on top of me. There I was with an injured damsel at hand and my first-aid can in my hip pocket.
Well, it didn't come off. I had the can open, the gauze unraveled and the iodine stopper in my teeth. "What's that?" asked Barbara.
"Iodine," I said, teeth together like Kirk Douglas.
I took the stopper out of my mouth.
"Iodine," I said.
"I'm very sorry," said Barbara softly, "but I'm a Christian Scientist." I stopped carrying the converted beef-bouillon case after that.