I've already posted this ages ago, and congratulations if you can be bothered reading it all.
'The Tall Story'
A brief summary of the traits and history of the imported back-up to back-up centre in America's National Basketball Association.
DO NOT READ ALOUD
In the game of basketball the position of centre is of great importance. Height is often considered a prerequisite in the game of basketball and the centre is the player, which most embodies this requirement. Centres, in the world's greatest basketball league (the American National Basketball Association), are very rarely under the height of 2.10m or 6 ft 10 and some have reached a height of above 2.30m or 7 ft 7 inches, although the world's best centres throughout history have generally been no taller than 2.16m or 7 ft 2.
If you are a back up centre, you will only play between 10 and 20 minutes of a game and your role is to take up space and generally annoy the opposition until the starting centre has recuperated and feels he deserves to earn his money by playing basketball rather than sharing jokes with whatever celebrity has spent the equivalent to a small country's economy for a ten ticket pass to sit courtside. If you are a backup centre and happen to be playing in America's mid west, you are likely to play more than 20 minutes some nights because no celebrities at all live in these states and the starting centre becomes restless and begins to take the opposing fan's taunts to heart. As a back-up centre you receive taunts all night while sitting on the bench, playing away from home and more often than not while playing at home also. This is because you were a good player in college, possibly very good, yet when you made the jump to the professional ranks you found you were too slow and lacked the skill and drive to become a regular starting centre.
Then there is the case of the back-up to the back-up centre often referred to as the 12th man of a basketball team, clearly recognisable in a public place, though this is due to his height and repulsive appearance, not his notoriety as a basketball player. This player is getting paid for his circus-like appearance and in rare cases was literally recruited from a highly controversial, yet underground circus still operating in a remote part of the developing world. As all of the NBA's 30 teams have numerous International scouts, the likelihood of finding such a player is very high if you know where to look. If in Africa, remote tribes are good breeding grounds for basketball players as they often are very, very tall and athletic, although their athleticism means they have potential to be a better than average player, maybe even a backup centre therefore unable to fill the specific needs of a back-up, back-up centre and may demand to be payed accordingly as their career progresses. Then again many Africans have sufficiently filled the void as 12th man over the years. The vast expanses of formally communist Eastern Europe were and are perfect breeding grounds for such a player as this player has likely had a pituitary gland problem which either intentionally or unintentionally went undiagnosed for many years meaning he has maximum height, but minimal sporting nous or was deliberately given known dangerous hormones by his government in an underground testing lab. The Middle East and Asia are also fertile breeding grounds, although this has only been the case in the last few years. Some of these players in the past have been simply tall as a result of a nuclear spill dumped on the outskirts of their inconspicuous little town or in the case of one such player who represented 4 teams over one season in the early eighties, he was thought to have been formed directly out of nuclear waste therefore was born without human parents.
The 12th man must have no basketball ability, he may have taken the game up at a late age by mistake (around 23) or at a ridiculously early age (as young as 4 months) which means when he reaches a suitable age to compete professionally he may be riddled with injuries or have lost his desire to play the sport. The fact that he may have taken up rigorous training as a baby is always due to armed intervention by his country's government, as he is seen as having sheer size at birth, therefore able to lead an army into an impending war by the age of 12 or 13. Many hardline Eastern-European governments believe arduous outdoor basketball sessions during the snow season (often lasting 12 months of the year) are the ideal way of toughening the large infant. A regular basketballer's outfit comprising of mesh shorts, singlet and when temperatures are seen to be unseasonably low shoes, are all that is usually worn. The fact that he may have in fact trained 17 hours a day, yet has no real basketball ability when playing in the United States is somewhat of a mystery to most people. Basketball purists however put this down to the fact that basketball in Eastern Europe is painfully mechanical and athleticism in semi professional leagues in these parts is often met with the termination of a players contract. If a player is seen to have an element of flair his small community often shuns him and if a player emulates an American player by being unnecessarily flashy during a game they will be shot (this rule has been revoked in a few nations and replaced with mere castration in recent years).
Most late starting back-up, back-up centres claim to have played soccer prior to basketball, generally as a goalkeeper, and when interviewed through sign language once every six months in America, they credit this as the reason they was able to adapt to basketball. No person however has seen more than 45 or so seconds of footage of this player in action as this is roughly how much time he spends on court (per year).
This player's first name is always abbreviated or changed into a catchy name, nothing like his real name, and it is more suited to a cartoon character, often a reptile or exotic bird such is its inability to pronounce with an English speakers palate. His surname is also ridiculously long and when printed in American newspapers, has to be hyphenated, as it never fits on to a single line unless the dozens of punctuation points are intentionally removed. As his career progresses and his English steadily improves he may become able to understand the question "How do you pronounce your name?" or even "can you say that slower?" if his career lasts more than 18 months.
His inability to understand basic English from his coach and fellow team mates makes practices rather difficult and he is often shown the way to the weights room, rather than the basketball court as basic movement and instinctive reaction are not elements of his repertoire. His inability to lift any slightly heavy weights is exacerbated by the fact that he was more than likely fed on a diet of something like potatoes, cabbage and rodents until the age of 13 due to government sanctions on his town (unless he was fed nothing but growth hormones). Had he known this wasn't normal he may have become an angry, aggressive teenager and perhaps have gained the traits necessary of a professional basketball player. However his mother's ability to shield him from the evils of the world was a blessing for his off-court demeanour, as he was often harassed at school due to his ungainly nature, yet was able to block such taunts partly through his mild deafness (a symptom of his malnutrition). His character is rarely on show in the United States however and is limited to spasmodic visits to his hometown abroad, if it is still in existence by the end of his basketball career.
The team knows he is there to make up the numbers and so does he. Although he is never directly talked about in press conferences by his coach or fellow players, he is alluded to when his teams willingness to embrace players from all walks of life is discussed, a simple ploy to create the illusion of egalitarianism in the billion dollar American sports industry.
When he sees eye to eye with an opposing player fitting his exact same description (apart from the odd minor detail) he briefly feels contentment knowing that he is not the only one of his kind in town on that particular day. Although he can't communicate with the other players like him, as they too speak a unique, hybrid dialect, he feels that his awkwardness is briefly respected with a unanimous nod being exchanged during warm-ups before a game.
He may wear an unusual number on his jersey. The reason the number is unusual is due to the fact that not only is it not worn by any other player in the league; but is also unlikely to have been worn by any other professional athlete (ever). It is unusually high and not an attractive number (if this is possible), although such a player may choose a number between four and 15 which in international competition are the only numbers legally worn. Due to this players worldly isolation prior to his move to the United States he often believes that these may be the only numbers available in all leagues on earth, or he may have been forced to choose this number through hand signals (due to his bad grasp of English).
If you look this player up on the Internet, you will find small articles about how he was discovered; in some cases bleeding from the mouth because he tried to score a basket yet underestimated how close his head was to the rim before jumping. This event or something similar is generally the reason American coaches want to sign such players because as aforementioned, basketball credentials are literally last on the list of priorities when looking for such a role player. The reason for this is because players are paid in almost direct correlation to their playing ability, almost.
If a decent player was once rumoured to be having liaisons with a famous singer or actress, then this will add at least one zero to their contract, regardless of basketball ability, although the back-up, back-up centre will never attract any women, let alone famous ones, such is his horrendous face and body and his comparable wage to his team mates shows this. His salary is almost always the bare minimum and this suits him as he feels no pressure to hone any basketball skills, plus with the exchange rate in his native nation-state plummeting every time he blinks, he is a virtual multi-billionaire in his own country anyway and innumerable opportunities arise on his return. A former player who will remain nameless (due to the lack of pseudo-Slavic letters on this keyboard) once allegedly bribed half of the population of his nation, less than 400, to vote for him by importing each of them a can of Pepsi and alleging that it was magic juice that made you beautiful. It was however the genuine belief of this player that this was the case due to the number of TV commercials the player witnessed in the United States starring attractive people. He was voted in as president of his country however died soon after, allegedly as a result of excessive gastric problems associated with the over consumption of carbonated beverages.
The fact that the back up to the back up centre almost never gets on the court is generally fine with such a player, although if he was unhappy with his playing time or salary he wouldn't be able to tell the coach or manager this because he can never ever speak more than a handful of words in English. His native language is almost always a hybrid of around seven other languages (some of them possibly officially extinct) and is spoken by only the inhabitants of his small town which may border up to 5 other countries, however his speech impediment and inclination to spit when he talks means his mother is the only one who truly understands him even in his home town.
This player rarely has any American following apart from a very, very minor cult following in the city of each team he plays for, and there are many teams, as most of his contracts are ten-day contracts and he permanently moves from hotel to hotel in a different city in America joining any team willing to accommodate a slow unnecessary player who can't follow instructions but will fill in the gaps of a salary cap. In his home town, he can be a national hero however, although he is generally never allowed to represent his country in International competition as his country's government requires up to 90% of his salary to pay for the nations health and military system which he staunchly disagrees with. He is sometimes willing to give around 87% of his earnings however, and his main American media appearances throughout his career are often to discuss (through sign language) why his whole town was wiped out through his nation's ethnic cleansing regimes and his connection to basketball is rarely discussed. He often also can be left off the national team altogether due to his inability to play the game or indeed because his homeland is simply is not a recognised nation-state.
The American media has been known to twist his 'words' and make it look like he thinks the USA is a better country than his native country (which is always misspelt in American newspapers anyway), and though this barely fills a paragraph in minor American newspapers it often makes the front page of his home country's only daily newspaper (which is released quarterly).
The story of how he stumbled across basketball if he was a late starter always sounds implausible when reported, although often the real reason is even stranger than that which is reported. Most players are said to be found simply ambling down the street and are stolen by the armed forces and sold to the USA by their country's desperate government in bundles of three, however this only happens some of the time. Due to the great need for 7 footers in the NBA to fill the last roster spot for minimum wage and the propensity for them to be stolen against their wishes in poor countries many have sought to live a life underground, literally. During the mid-nineties a whole community of gangly young men were allegedly found, huddled in a deep burrow in North-Eastern Europe by National Geographic journalists, although this was denied by both the US government and the government of the country they were found in which has since been split into three countries.
Reports by family members of National Geographic crew (who all mysteriously drowned soon after while researching mirages in the Sahara desert) say that such burrows are commonplace throughout the non-Western world as a means of transporting these players from their homeland to the USA for less than the price of three aeroplane seats (all of which are necessary due to their size). This was said to be set up by the individuals in the nations involved as a means of avoiding payments to government agencies or to make sure that the parents of the young men involved weren't able to know which team/s their sons were joining and therefore were not sent any of their wages, it also makes them harder to track. The players are alleged to be always recruited from towns so backward that they have no street names or house numbers, let alone telephones. Generally such players have not seen basic technology until arriving in the United States and if in the faint possibility they get on the court in the NBA, the flashing lights and sounds are often a major deterrent and a plausible explanation why they will assume their role on the bench within a few seconds.
Many such players are reported to have been discovered by a genuine NBA scout who heard through the grapevine that a six foot nine inch 12 year old was dominating a league of 14 year olds and visits his town with the sole intention of signing this child to a contract, however this is generally not the case. Often Americans are not allowed to enter such nations as a result of lingering cold war tensions or because the country is a constant war-zone, so scouting for a 12th man for your team can in isolated instances be negotiated from as high up as the leader of whatever country the required player is in with the then President of the United States. Most of these players arrive on the doorstep of the team's general manager late at night or disguise themselves as performers on stilts and are rarely seen prior to their arrival in the United States by their first American coach.
Even though the United States government would never admit it, the acquisition of gangly, uncoordinated foreigners to play basketball in their country is highly necessary to maintain their mantle as a superpower. Despite the fact that in years gone by, these players were almost always Eastern-European, they have since been found in Asia and the Middle East as aforementioned. The players are said to perpetuate ethnic stereotypes of biological inferiority, more common in the 19th Century way of thinking, but still a feature of US government propaganda in the media today as a means of promoting the United States as the greatest country on earth. These young men are portrayed as unable to follow instructions, physically incapable of the most basic action and lacking the drive to do anything substantial despite supposedly having one of the greatest opportunities associated with the American dream to earn millions of dollars as a professional athlete. These stereotypes are played almost every day and night of the year into millions of American homes with each stumble, missed shot and turnover that the 'player' completes.
There have been numerous cases whereby a 12th man is interviewed about whether he thinks the United States should start a war with another nation, his response is always the same in his native language: "I thought you knew I couldn't speak or understand English". This response has commonly been falsely and intentionally subtitled on American television networks as "Down with the USA!!!" and with that the whole English speaking population of America is converted to the mindset that the impending war is necessary.
Where they end up when their careers are over is anyone's guess and many have simply vanished soon after their last game or are dressed in gorilla suits and put in a national park in order to promote the existence of the Sasquatch and bring tourists. The achievements of the afore-unmentioned player who became his country's president (but died soon after) is rarely reached despite many making it back to their homelands and having a good standard of living. Some misguided individuals have been talked into playing in foreign leagues in another part of the developed world after their last NBA game, however with a reputation as an ex-NBA player they are given responsibility and remarkably have a reputation before arriving and unsurprisingly barely make it through the first team practice session.
These players are grossly exploited for short term gain and are made victims wherever they are in the world. Thankfully their professional sporting careers are always short as is their suffering. Whilst their age can rarely be verified at all due to either the tampering of their birth details by their country's government or the fact that no one in their community has an official birth certificate anyway, it is thought their careers generally start and finish at a young age. Their lifespan is thankfully short too and this can be due to the symptoms of gigantism or through various other medical complications associated with their size.
So the next time you see an oversized man-child with an unpronounceable surname take to the hardwood of an NBA stadium and systematically fumble, fall and foul his way through a series of plays, please be mindful of his likely journey to get there. Always remember however that his real-life story and role in the wider community is much greater than you could ever realise.
The above information should not be circulated in print or general conversation.