My brother and I got into basketball for a short time. I think it 1991, possible around August, when our family began a two-month overseas travel-a-thon. It was great. We did assignments as we travelled through the US, UK, Ireland, Germany and Poland, and I missed a fair whack of Mr Topping's Year Six class.
For some reason the NBA seemed to undergo a surge of popularity back then, possibly due to the emergence of the Australian basketball competition, the NBL. All of a sudden, my brother and I were collecting cards featuring people called "Michael Jordan", "Charles Barkeley" and "Shaquille O'Neal".
I was not particularly competent at basketball. But it was never really about playing basketball. Come to think of it, it wasn't even about watching basketball. It was more about the footwear. Specifically, Reebok Pumps:
Big chunky high-top sneakers with a built-in inflation device, Reebok Pumps were the first shoes to feature an in-built inflation device. The tongue contained a big round orange squeezy button - reminiscent, coincidentally, of a basketball - that you would press to inflate something in the base of the shoe, giving you ....well, air. I guess. It was like strapping a blood pressure tester around each foot - you got a not-unpleasant feeling of firmness, enough to go shoot a three-pointer or something.
I picked up my pair of much sought-after Reebok Pumps in Los Angeles, on the aforementioned trip. My brother wound up forsaking the Reebok Pumps for the equally gimmicky LA Lights, the sneaker with LED lights IN THE HEEL. There's nothing like a couple of privileged white kids getting 'round Disneyland in sub-culturally misappropriated sportswear.
Reebok Pumps reached their pinnacle the next year, when they featured in Mel Brooks' parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights.* Then they faded from popularity. I can't remember how long my Pumps lasted, but it wouldn't have been more than a year. That fancy inflation device had a habit, like many gimmicks, of breaking a bit too easily.
*Yeah, it was Dave Chappelle! Who knew? I must go back and watch that film again.