The best shots remain airborne forever, in driveways and alleys, at parks and YMCAs, amateur imitations of Magic Johnson's junior skyhook over the Celtics, Reggie Miller's turnaround against the Knicks, Michael Jordan's step-back versus the Jazz. They live in dusty old gyms like the one at Santa Monica High, where on a warm November morning, a 64-year-old former professor and Air Force intelligence officer strides across the key to the right corner. He glances down at the strip of hardwood separating the three-point line from the sideline and marvels at how narrow it is. Someone shooting from that corner would have only three feet to leap and land-not much room for a man who is, say, 6' 5" and wears size-15 sneakers. It's like asking a giant to do gymnastics on a wire. "This son of a gun sprints all the way back here, turns his body, gets his balance, takes his time and sets up perfectly," the professor says. "He can't rush it. He has to follow through. And he does it all because he's done it a million times before. He's waited his whole life for this shot." Then Gregg Popovich pantomimes the stroke that broke his heart.
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