Memorable Gifts: Why the tiny Fisher-Price basketball hoop I got as a toddler was the best gift ever

click to enlarge This toddler-sized 
hoop was a Christmas 
slam dunk.
This toddler-sized hoop was a Christmas slam dunk.

If I'm being honest, no gift I've received, or will ever receive, could top the Fisher-Price basketball hoop I got when I was 2 years old.

It's not because I actually remember receiving the gift as a 2-year-old. I was a toddler. My brain was mush.

But it's absolutely the gift that shaped my life more than any other.

I got it for Christmas back in 1993, and my mom tells me that I made a beeline toward the hoop as soon as I saw it, fixated on it like no other gift I'd ever had in my very short life. There are pictures of me elated next to the hoop, with wrapping paper strewn across the carpet.

I did what basically any toddler would do in that situation: dunked the crap out of the ball, over and over. And in between dunks, of course, I'd look up at my parents for approval and applause. Once I was satisfied with the cheers, I'd go and dunk it again.

It didn't take long for me to graduate to a bigger plastic basketball hoop. This was another Christmas gift, and we put it outside on the patio for me to bang around on when it was warm enough. I vividly remember playing 1-on-1 against my brother, who was 14 years older than me, and destroying him. To this day, a part of me maintains that I actually beat him fair and square and he wasn't just letting me win.

Other years, I got those mini hoops you could attach to a door. I must have driven my parents crazy jumping up and down in my room and calling out "Criscione for 3!" while shooting around in my bedroom.

Finally, when I was around 10 years old, I got the real thing for my birthday — a real basketball hoop. We put it out on the street, and I'd spend hours out there practicing my shot, taking out my frustrations, trying to get better.

But it's that first one that was so special. It all started decades ago in my parent's living room with that one tiny hoop. It planted something inside of my brain.

When I was older, shooting around outside, I'd still look back to the window to see if my parents saw me make that 3-pointer. I imagined them applauding, just like they did all those years ago. ♦

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.