Thanks to improved training and various medical advances, NBA careers are longer than they ever have been. And that leads to situations where young players are playing against their heroes, like James Harden growing up in Los Angeles, only to see Kobe Bryant hit a summer league game-winner in his face. That sort of thing wasn’t always possible back in the day, but it’s pretty cool that it does now, at least to this bro.
I mean, if that sort of thing wasn’t possible, then we wouldn’t have this awesome story of the first time Kyrylo Fesenko guarded his idol, Shaquille O’Neal. From The Classical’s Michael Katz:
“I played against him first time for, I spent 50 seconds on the court, actually 50 seconds against Shaq,” he said. “So, at one point he was posting me up and I was thinking ‘Oh, I got him. I got him.’ And I pictured myself, you know, blocking him. You know, I pictured myself being on the front page of all newspapers and everything. I was already so hyped, like I was thinking how I’m going to tell it to my friends. And then he dunked on me.”
Demoralizing, right? Not at all.
“When you first time meet your hero—if you ever meet your hero—you will definitely remember it,” he said. “I was still thinking about like, ‘Did somebody get a picture of that?’”
This has to be the perfect first time guarding Shaquille O’Neal story. Even if you’re the most competitive human being alive, if you’re a huge Shaq fan, it is probably pretty fun to get dunked on by youre hero. You’re probably mad about getting dunked on, but you’re still a little bit OK with it because now you can say that YOU have been dunked on by Shaq. It’s like a badge of honor.
Sure, meeting your idols doesn’t always work out perfectly — sometimes you have to write a b-side about the letdown — but when it does, it’s awesome. Here’s hoping Kyrylo Fesenko found a picture of that dunk, blew it up to Carmelo Anthony painting size and hung it above his fireplace. Can’t really think of a better way to commemorate such an event.