If I Could Travel Back In Time: An Essay By Travis

Time travel is like, a privilege. You know?

Have you seen 11.22.63 on Hulu? Oh man. I finished it last night. It's about a guy who uses a time portal to try to stop the JFK assassination. Can you imagine? I would give anything for the chance to travel back in time.

For me, the destination would be the 1940s — and I don’t think I’d be in any hurry to come back. It’s an era ripe for chasing glory, for carving out your own path. But it’s not the opportunity to be a war hero that excites me.

It’s my complete confidence that I would absolutely dominate everyone in basketball.

Think about it. Basketball was a relatively new sport then. The NBA was just getting started. Know what that means for a time traveler like me? Opportunity. As someone who made their varsity team junior year, I figure back in the 1940s, I'd be on the fast track to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Easy.

Like, there's no way the guys balling in the 1940s had any clue what they were doing. Honestly, I wish I could play Dr. Naismith himself one-on-one. I don’t care that he invented basketball — I’d cross him up and leave him in a crumpled pile on the floor. But he died in 1939, so I need to focus on the task at hand. The fools in the 40s.

I can see it now. I walk into the gym. Creaky hardwood floors. Well, maybe they wouldn't be creaky. I suppose they'd probably be new. Anyway, I'd be like, "I got next." They’d look at me and wonder who this giant of a man is. (Keep in mind that everyone in the 1940s was around four or five feet, max, so they’d basically lose it when they see my nearly 5’11 frame towering over them.)

The game would start. They'd be all chest passes, straight line dribbling, and layups. Nerd stuff. I wouldn't even bother playing defense. Maybe block a couple shots for fun, just so they'd know that I could. But as soon as I touched the ball, they would learn that they were dealing with someone built different.

Jab step. Dribble. Step back. THREE. Well, I guess there was no three-point line back then, but it'd still be a super long shot, and no doubt demoralizing for their whole team. Before the game, they'd probably cite the Great Depression or World War II as the hardest things they've lived through. But then they'd find out what it's like to guard me. 

They might as well be wearing those old-timey roller skates on their little 1940s feet, because they’d be all over the place. Meanwhile, I’d slice through the lane and get an easy bucket every time. And-one!

Speaking of and-ones...I bet these guys wouldn't even know the rules. Doc Naismith’s dead, he can’t tell them. They would try to blow the whistle, call me for a travel or something, and I'd say, "I don't think so. Ever heard of a gather step, idiot? Take a lap." I'd adopt a catch phrase like "take a lap" and everyone would love me for it. I'd be the man.

After I embarrass those poor losers at the gym, I’d say “good game” even though I wouldn’t mean it. Then, I bet some bystander would go get one of those fast-talking reporters to come in to get the "scoop" about the new wiz-kid basketball player. He'd ask me all sorts of questions. And before you say anything, I know the reporter would be a "he" because it's the 1940s.

I'd talk to the newsman for a little bit because I'm a nice guy, but then I'd go back to the court and get some more runs in. Because that's what the greats do, and in this scenario, I'd be a great. 

Word would spread like wildfire about Travis, America’s new basketball sensation. They would probably call me The Ted Williams of Basketball. Ted Williams played in the 1940s, right? Who else was really good at something in the 1940s? I’m not sure. But I’d be “the [them] of basketball.” It’d be so sweet.

I'd obviously go to the NBA, compete against those guys for a while, win a few championships because there were like four teams, and basically coast to the Hall of Fame. By 2005 or so, they’d wheel me out for some ceremony at the All-Star game, and Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady or one of those guys would tell me I was one of the best to ever do it, even though they probably would’ve never seen me play. And I’d tell them that if they practiced more, one day, maybe, they’d be on my level. Maybe.

Sure, going back in time, there would be things I miss, like Netflix and basic civil rights for minority groups. But I think the chance to shock a gym full of people and obliterate a team of guys who were born just after the turn of the century would be so worth it.

I just realized something, though. Pro athletes didn't really get rich back then. In fact, they usually had to get, like, summer jobs. I don't want to get some bum job, though. I'm trying to be a superstar. Hmm.

Oh, I’ve got it: I'd just invent the iPhone. That way I'd have basketball AND money.

Get me back to the 1940s! Those guys had it so good, and they didn’t even know it.