Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The Monaghan Pump Fake

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This is Dan Monaghan.

You probably don’t know him.

He was my college roommate. One of my closest friends. Great guy. Funny, smart, hard-working, excellent dad and husband.

Most important, some 20 years ago he gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Back in the day, Dan and I would play basketball all the time. One on one. Intramurals. Late at night. After classes. He was a really good player—a 10 ppg scorer as a high schooler in East Williston; sort of a forward-guard hybrid with a quick first step and excellent handle. If I were to compare him to an NBA guy, it’d be … hmm … maybe someone like Jamal Wilkes. Very smooth, very efficient, lots of banked jumpers and angular 15-footers.

Dan’s best move—and one of the absolute deadliest weapons I’ve ever seen—was his pump fake. It wasn’t merely a pump fake, in that he’d square up for a moment, then drive. No, Monaghan sold the damn thing like a retail clerk. He’d receive a pass, start to shoot, extend his body, lengthy his legs, look toward the hoop, reach the very top of his toes—then, whoosh! Gone. It worked and worked and worked, and was especially deadly when Monaghan was hitting his outside shots. There were games when he was unstoppable, all because of his magical pump fake.

So, eh … I stole it.

I really did. I worked on that damn pump fake repeatedly. Unlike Monaghan, I desperately needed it. My game was primarily boxing out, grabbing rebounds, putting up junk. So, over the years, I’d pump fake, and pump fake again and again and again. Now, at age 42, it’s mine. I use it all the time, to the point where friends will say, “Watch out for Pearlman’s pump fake.”

Only it’s not mine. It’s Monaghan’s.

Long story short: Tonight I played pickup at my gym for two hours. I was an unknown figure—old guy, new, not so impressive looking. And the pump fake worked like a charm. Guys went for it repeatedly, and I had one open look after another. It was pure joy, and some guys probably walked away thinking I knew what I was doing.

Which isn’t true.

I’m a hack.

With Dan Monaghan’s move.