Freeze this moment in time. I had just scored on Earl the Pearl. In front of witnesses, no less! And he had responded with a soft, throaty "Ooohh." Might it be possible to create a video loop of the shot that could play endlessly on my VCR?
My team made another bucket, and then the former Knicks scored twice to tie the game. Feeling a good deal more confident, I played aggressively—jabbing at the ball as Pearl held it above his chest. Then in a burst he was by me, executing his famous twist-and-twirl move before the ball left his hands and sailed through the hoop for the winning basket.
"The la-la?" I asked.
He just smiled.
The next morning, The New York Times-ran a two-column photograph of the Pearl doubling down on one of my teammates, leaving me unguarded near the baseline some eight feet away. "Clearly," noted a friend of mine, "Earl did not fear another baby jump hook." Ooohh.