He's tiny. That's the first thing you notice. Then he's gone, faster than you think a person can move with a basketball, and then the ball is up in the air and then it's in the basket. Over and over again. Okay, sure, in high school. But not in Division I. Not in the NBA. Ever. NBA players can't be outquicked by THAT much. The kid is 5'7" in platform shoes. Okay, so he can jump high. And he can dunk. Holy hot damn. Look at that. He can dunk. Could this be real? Is this one of those fake videos like Kobe jumping over a car while hanging out with his buddy Ronny Turiaf? What's the deal?
You read the profiles and they seem fake too. He's dropping 60-point games? And talking trash while doing it? And his nickname is "Crimestopper?" Because there's a notable downturn in Baltimore street crime every time he plays? That's not real. That's some Oliver Twist crazy make believe story. That's a made for TV movie. That's not a real human being. Who is this again?
Then you dig deeper. You see the twitter feed.
"My chick dont need no dildo she get the real 1."
Holy shit. That's not supposed to happen. That's not "Rise and grind, God is blessed!"
Instead: non-stop updates. N-bombs. Emoji. Sex brags. "Ebonic" spellings that pucker your already too tight white guy sphincter: "no" for "know" and "in" for "and," until you realize, oh yeah, this kid is 19 years old and from B-more. That tightness in your sphincter is familiar. You've had it on the bus. The kid doesn't give a fuck. He could do anything. You look at the Instagram pictures. Dudes holding money, wearing brand new everything. And gold.
I think this is called "swag." It seems dangerous. That's the idea, probably. But you're a white guy. You worry.
You keep digging. He transferred three times over his junior and senior years of high school. He's got a one year old daughter already. He committed to Seton Hall, then backed out to pursue a professional career overseas in order to feed his family. He's been picked up by the cops. Charges dropped. Okay, okay. None of my business. Alright, relax. I don't have his problems. I don't know his life. I'm in no position to judge. I do have enough experience to know that these are not things Grant Hill would do, but Grant Hill is boring. Life would suck if everybody was Grant Hill. On the court and off the court.
But you worry. You hate to see people end up like Allen Iverson. Iverson taught us about swag. Now he's in trouble and apparently can't get out of it because apparently swag means never asking for help. We make that connection in our brains whenever somebody is extra swaggy. Lil Wayne. T.I. Chief Keef. You know: looking great but maybe not doing so good, somewhere deep inside where it matters. And then all of a sudden maybe you're not so swaggy. Maybe you're Maurice Claret or Titus Young. There are endless examples of people who went too far with their compulsions. That's what swag is: I'm all this RIGHT NOW. And nobody will tell you your RIGHT NOW was actually yesterday until it's too late, and you're not going to listen anyway.
You start up a blog post about Aquille Carr, because he is going to Italy this week to show off his skills at Adidas Eurocamp, which is apparently like a draft combine for EuroLeague teams. And you see the updates on that twitter feed you left open in another browser window, and it's up to (25) in the last 90 minutes. He's nervous. No, not nervous. Excited. You love him again. You want him to be everything he is. You want him to be real.
You want him to take that game and those tweets all the way to the NBA and get fined endlessly for them (his tweets make Roy Hibbert look like Coach K), and just not care. You want him to torch dudes off the dribble, then on the next position step back after a crossover and drop a 3 into their mouths as they fall to the floor nursing a pair of broken ankles. You want the 50-spot in Madison Square Garden. You want him to be Aquille Carr the whole time and have it WORK.
Of course that won't happen. Either he'll grow up a little and stop tweeting "inappropriately" (I put that in quotes because I'm a grown man and I don't care what he says) a hundred times a day, or he'll flame out somehow. There's nothing but potential here. It could be tragedy. It could be greatness. It could be anything in between, some "learn to be okay" measure of quiet redemption on the And-1 Tour after an injury, or that one late-career Steve Francis game when he torched the Wizards singlehandedly and then stood in triumph on the scorer's table at the Verizon Center.
There is going to be something. It is going to be poignant, because little guys don't play like that. Nobody plays like that. And when it's all said and done, you are going to be glad there was ever such a thing as Aquille Carr.
RIGHT NOW, though, he's just starting. He could go anywhere from here. But he is already a legend. He's a walking 30 for 30 documentary. He could die tomorrow and people in Baltimore would tell their grandkids about watching him play. He doesn't have to worry about that. Can you imagine not having to worry about whether or not you're a legend? That's fucking CRAZY. I'd be nervous too. Not nervous. Excited. No wonder he's Instagramming a stack of money. I don't know how else a 19 year old person is expected to deal with that.
Go get 'em, little man.