When asked to think of my definitive All-Star Weekend moment, I immediately thought of an incident that served as a formative aspect in my development as an obsessive basketball fan. It’s not what made me love basketball in the first place, but it is an exact time when I can pinpoint realizing that I loved basketball to a ridiculous degree — Cedric Ceballos’s blindfolded dunk in the 1992 Dunk Contest.
Don’t get me wrong, I can think of at least a dozen dunks more impressive than Cedric’s right off the top of my head. Anything by Michael, Spud, Dominique, Nate or Dwight comes to mind. But the Ceballos blindfolded dunk is branded on to my personality as a basketball fan unlike any other for one simple reason.
I listened to that shit on the radio.
I don’t remember why I was unable to get to a television to watch that year’s dunk contest, but I do remember stopping everything I was doing to make sure that I at least had the ability to listen to dunks. I was 12 and this shit was important. I look back now and realize that the whole point of the dunk contest is that dunks are visually impressive. It didn’t matter to me. I had to know who won that year’s dunk contest, even if it meant listening to someone verbally describe impressive visual feats. It was my first moment of being a ridiculously obsessive NBA fan.
It would be the first of many such moments. Every time I’ve ever gone into the other room at a party to watch a game on TV, every time I’ve loaded up a livecast online instead of doing work, every time I’ve gone to the bathroom when I didn’t have to actually go just to check a score on my smart phone — all of these moments are rooted in that time I insisted on listening to Cedric Ceballos dunk a basketball while wearing a blindfold back in 1992. If my loved ones had realized the implications of this event and got me into therapy at that young age, I would have spent countless fewer hours of life obsessed with the NBA.
(In writing this, I also came to this realization –- is there more of a bum assignment than being the radio guy that gets stuck on the dunk contest? You must know that the station manager views you as a real piece of shit broadcaster when you get handed the “Good luck talking about all this stuff, we’ll be busy watching and enjoying” assignment that is the radio broadcast of a slam dunk contest.)
I lost my mind when I heard what Cedric did. The guy went all Daredevil and removed his sense of sight. I was bouncing off the walls all day. That night I watched the highlights of the dunk contest. It wasn’t a great dunk. You could tell he could kind of look down and see his feet under the blindfold. Watching the Cedric Ceballos dunk didn’t do much for me. But I’ll always remember where I was when I heard it.