“No, not Dad,” Oliver said in the brick tract home where he grew up. “He was an older dad, like you, and his family was the focus of his life. The only time he wasn’t home with us kids was when he went out on the road for Phillips Petroleum, buying and selling leases in western Kansas and Oklahoma. When he got back he’d say, ‘All I wanted to do was come home.’ ”
I think it’s the sort of thing that a lot of kids probably fantasize about, me included. Just like you might want to become an astronaut or something like that. I was always one of the tallest kids in my class, but I never really tried to dunk. And so as an adult, you start wondering a little bit about what sorts of things you left on the table, that you never really tried your hand at. And I got it into my head that I’d pick up this childhood fantasy of mine and see if I could dunk.
Asher Price, a reporter at the Austin American-Statesman, spent a year of his life trying to find out and chronicled his quest to jam on a regulation hoop in the book The Year of the Dunk, which comes out in May. Price, who played coy about whether he was able to achieve his goal, spoke to Science of Us about what a rec leaguer would need to do to fly like a pro. (Spoiler: lots of squats and alley-oop attempts.)
A second, more efficient and correct method is to use an infrared laser placed at ground level. When an athlete jumps and breaks the plane of the laser with his/her hand, the height at which this occurs is measured. Devices based on United States Patent 5031903, "A vertical jump testing device comprising a plurality of vertically arranged measuring elements each pivotally mounted..." are also common. These devices are used at the highest levels of collegiate and professional performance testing. They are composed of several (roughly 70) 14-inch prongs placed 0.5 inches apart vertically. An athlete will then leap vertically (no running start or step) and make contact with the retractable prongs to mark their leaping ability. This device is used each year at the NFL scouting combine.