(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Doc’s Story” is really two stories in one, for the narrator’s own story is as important as the title story it contains. The narrator, who lost his girlfriend in May, spends the next few months hanging out at a neighborhood park and listening to the African American men who congregate on the basketball court, swapping stories. He needs their stories for his own survival. His favorites somehow bring him alive, and he finds himself laughing and hugging the other listeners. The story that affects him most is the story of Doc, which he hears only three times, but the presence of Doc presides over the basketball court where the storytellers hang out, and his story is at the heart of their lives.

Doc was an athlete at the local university, where he later taught, the core story begins. At some point, his eyes weakened, and then he went blind. His blindness did not lessen his basketball ability, however, and he would come to the court day or night and sink endless free throws between pickup games. On a certain Sunday, however, Doc’s ability failed him, and when a young boy named Sky slam-dunked an errant free throw, Doc confronted him. Then, instead of walking away in anger, Doc joined a game and played. It is a legendary tale, the story of a blind man playing basketball and holding his own in the sighted world.

The narrator wonders, at the conclusion of Doc’s story, if the tale would have made his girlfriend feel differently about leaving. She would have thought it was folklore or superstition, he thinks. If he had known Doc’s story before she left, however, the miracle of a blind man playing basketball, then, maybe. . . . The thought seems to give him something to hold on to.