Vol. 2, No. 4: Malice at the Ice Palace photo

Sweet 16Michael Rogner

Instead of our fathers we found echoes and a worn leather ball, found Erik’s sweet jump shot, Andre’s mad scramble for rebounds burnt into his brain, his lifelong need to corral every runaway, out there hoopin’ in duct tape shoes. Our little unassuming deacon in his striped tie, blushing when we called him coach, doling out the Proverbs of pump fakes and pin-down screens. His ability to assemble ten boys from the church basement into something more than ten, boys worth more than heirlooms, worth long van rides and gas station pizza, and the games in Atlanta when we tore down the 6-9 wunderkind who would hang his jersey in the rafters at Vanderbilt, and Paul who got run over by a boat, and Derrick who got himself stabbed outside Piggly Wiggly, and Isaiah who joined the NYFD and died of a heart attack two days before the planes hit, and me cleaning my closet on a rainy day with the tournament on in the background, this threadbare jersey with my own damn name stitched right across the back.