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Von Wafer: A Cinder"fella" Story

Sean FearonCorrespondent IMay 6, 2009

HOUSTON - APRIL 30:  Forward Von Wafer #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 30, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In the months of January and February 2009, an unknown warrior was placed in at reserve shooting guard as a last resort, to replace a "much missed" Tracy McGrady. No one expected this “nobody” to perform at an All Star caliber. Indeed as this nobody hit the game winning trey against Boston, I thought pinch me, who is this "Jordan-esque" hand-me-down. Where did he come from, what's up with his hair? Well, I'll tell you.

Vakeaton Quamar Wafer entered the NBA as a second round excuse, nothing more than a 6'5" roster-stuffer, when he was drafted by the Lakers 39th overall in 2005. His high school career, though relatively brief, was spectacular as Von averaged a stellar 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in his junior season.

When he was called up to the national recruiting scene Von posted astounding 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks per game, whilst attending Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, Texas. As a result of his stellar play he was invited to participate at the McDonald's All-American High School game, it was here where he established himself as on of the nations best high flyers, finishing a respectable second to reigning MVP LeBron James in the Slam Dunk Contest.

Whilst "playing" with the Lakers he had done what many scouts said he would do, crash and burn in the NBA. He scored a point a game in four minutes of action.

It was then where his three years of instability began, as he moved from the Lakers, to the Clippers, to the Nuggets, and to the Blazers, until he finally was given an opportunity in Houston.

No one expected much, if anything from him Wafer. Playing a combined one solitary hour of professional basketball for his last three clubs gave many people reason to disregard his ability to play in the league. With no pressure, or seemingly no hope for this young doormat, no one would have believed that his chance was right around the corner.


On February 18th 2009, Tracy McGrady announced to the world that he would miss the remainder of the current season. At the time critics and fans alike had seemingly written off the struggling Rockets, but this monumental event was a divine blessing in disguise, in more than one way.

McGrady was unable to lose any more games for Houston, and Coach Rick Adelman, forced to find a player who could eat up the veteran shooting guards minutes, called on the young and ready Von Wafer.

In future contests against the leagues heavyweights, namely Boston and LA (Lakers), Wafer exploded on to the scene becoming an overnight sensation, as he conveyed his lethal three point stroke, crazy hair, and even crazier mid air acrobatics to bewildered onlookers, including his teammates.

He posted a career/team high 23 points in a gut wrenching loss to the Lakers, and hit an incredible long range bomb from the corner against Boston to win the game.

The jubilant Super-Sub was overheard saying, "that was the greatest moment of my life, man, I mean I live for moments like that. Incredible"

And why not, for a lifelong underdog athlete who rose from the leagues peasantry to become a Houston household name in under 24 hours. His breakout performances had opposing teams desperate to find a strategy to contain his exceptional energy and focus.

Will we ever see such a story again, perhaps not in my lifetime. The Von Wafer Miracle is one that remains a mystery, and rightly so. Its recurrence is rare and unscripted in the journals of fate. You need the unwavering passion and dedication that few possess, and few will ever have. There will never be another Von Wafer again

So cliche, but so true.

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