Taylor Johns’ quest for the perfect game

Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER

Though the men’s basketball season had ended just recently, sophomore Taylor Johns has been tirelessly looking for a way to improve his game. He has already backpacked around the world twice in his quest to find the secret to basketball immortality. He has tweeted Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James looking for answers. Little did he realize that the key to becoming one with the gods of the hardwood would come from his laptop.

“During my many days exploring this world, I went to the most exotic and dangerous courts in the world. I had to take a break and rest at home for a few days,” he admitted when he returned to Riverside.

And while at home, he spared a moment to venture onto the NBA’s website, to possibly get some inspiration that would push him forward in his quest. It was then that he found what he had been searching so long for. However, it wasn’t a video quoting an NBA player and his secrets, nor was it a complex coded message hidden somewhere in the writing — it was in an ad. Yes, one of those pesky ads that riddle sites, claiming to improve shooting technique or court awareness in a matter of days. This one in particular that Johns stumbled upon seemed different. He could tell by the fact that the ad made his entire screen black as the “Space Jam” theme song blared in the background. Once the song reached the chorus, text started popping up on the screen. Johns sat back down in his seat to read it, as of course he was dancing up to that point.

“Taylor Johns, you have searched long and hard for the secret to the perfect game,” the screen read. “You’re very close to achieving it, and as a reward for your relentless passion, I will give you the last bit of help you need to get there. I will improve your vertical!”

Johns was still a bit skeptical at this point, considering he already had a monster vertical, but he clicked the flashing “Click here to start!” link at the bottom of the page. What happened then Johns himself cannot remember very clearly.

“There was a bright flash, like when the paparazzi come to ambush me after a game, and once it cleared, everything seemed normal,” he explained. “The ad was gone. In fact, my whole laptop was gone. Speaking of which, I still need to report that to the police.”

What had gone unnoticed at the time was what the ad had actually done to him. The ad had done what it claimed it would do, and improved his vertical leap. However, Johns did not notice until he did his normal early morning practice routine the next day. He started off as he normally would, with a few layups to get warmed up. After his feet easily cleared the rim on his first attempt and he crashed into the backboard, Johns realized the ad had worked, and that his vertical had increased by almost 10 feet.

In his excitement, Johns completed many dunks that were unheard of previously, such as the double-dippy-flippy dunk, in which Johns did two backflips in the air while double-dipping a tortilla chip into a cup of salsa he had in his pocket, of course finished with the dunk. Once he got used to his new leaping ability, he started parodying some of the most famous dunks. Instead of jumping from the free throw line like Dr. J or Jordan, he was dunking from the three-point line off of two feet. Instead of sticking his arm in the rim like Vince Carter, Johns tried to get his entire body through the hoop. Unfortunately, his leaping ability did not change the width of the rim, and he got stuck around his waist and needed to be rescued by the fire department.

Having determined the few limits in his new leaping abilities, Johns determined he could not wait until next season to show them off. So he started an online campaign that went viral in a matter of hours, challenging the NBA’s best dunkers to a slam dunk competition at UCR’s Student Recreation Center Arena. The campaign included a video of Johns exhibiting some dunks that only grazed the surface of his new abilities, but that apparently was enough to scare all NBA players from the competition.

The quest has been completed and the perfect game achieved, so now Johns can focus on more important things, like winning games for the Highlanders next year and declaring his eligibility for the NBA draft. Also he can focus on his lost laptop. He has yet to find that.

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