Boston Celtics: Jack McCluskey
Twenty years after his no-look dunk helped him emerge as champion of the 1991 slam dunk contest, the show goes on for former Celtics guard Dee Brown, writes ESPN.com's Jack McCluskey:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- After the final horn sounded and the players streamed from the floor, a few young fans leaned over the edge of the tunnel, holding out items in hopes of autographs. One young fan dangled a crisp, green and white jersey. No. 7.
It didn't fit. The jersey didn't belong to either of the teams on the floor that night. It came from another place and time, 90-odd miles east and 20 years ago.
The man it was meant for spotted it on the way off the floor, abruptly changing course to oblige. He took the marker offered and signed on the tail end of the number.
The young signature-seeker wasn't alive when that jersey played its part in history, but the tall, slim man in the beige suit and brown loafers doesn't mind. The coach knows that for some people, he'll always be the kid he was back then. The one with the showman's flair and the supreme athlete's air.
And that's OK, because he's a student of the game. He works mere miles from the shrine to the game's greats, in the city where the game was invented. Yet you would excuse him if he felt worlds away from both.
Twenty years ago he pumped up his sneakers then launched himself through the air, he dunked two balls in one leap, he flew toward the rim with the crook of his right arm over his eyes, and landed in history. Today, he tries to teach others how to get where he's been.
The coach knows who he is, who the young fan wants him to be still. So he signs: "Dee Brown, '91 slam dunk champ."
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