“Mr. Trick Shot” Hoops It Up

I’ve never started an “06880” story with a video before.

Then again, before this week I’d never interviewed Christopher Dobransky.

Westport is filled with folks doing interesting things. But no one may be having more fun at it than this energetic phys. ed. teacher.

His students love him. So do millions of people around the world. They see his “Mr. Trick Shot” videos on social media. They’ve watched him on ESPN. They might have caught him with the Harlem Globetrotters, at Madison Square Garden.

It’s a long way from Yonkers, where he grew up. He did not play varsity basketball in high school — he got a job to pay for a car instead — but he was on an intramural team. While earning his BA (Iona College) and master’s (Manhattanville), he and his friends enjoyed open gym nights.

That was the extent of his court experience, when he was hired by a New York high school.

Basketball is a city game. “All you need is a ball and a hoop,” Dobransky notes. He challenged students to games of Horse — and always won. (He gave them rewards like free periods anyway.)

He also entertained them with crazy shots. “I was always good at them,” he says modestly.

First, Dobransky explains, he visualizes a shot in his head. He considers the spin and speed of the ball, and the angle of the bounce. If he misses, he adjusts.

“It’s all about consistency,” Dobransky says.

Clearly though, he inhabits a world the rest of us don’t. While it took him a full gym period to master his drop kick off the wall, others take 1 to 10 tries. “Twenty, max,” he says. “It’s really just physics.”

He and his wife Joanna — a 5th grade teacher in New Canaan — had always liked Westport. They found a house they could afford after the 2007 stock market crash.

“It’s a great town,” Dobransky says. “The restaurants, the schools — we love it.”

Three years ago he was hired by Booker T. Washington Academy in New Haven. A student teacher told Dobransky he should tape his trick shots, and put them on the internet.

Swish!

USA Today did a story on him. A marketing company bought the rights to make compilation tapes. Within 3 days, he had 500,000 views.

“Mr. Trick Shot” grew from there. Students — inspired by their suddenly famous teacher — gave him ideas for new tricks. He rewarded their ideas (and good behavior) by including them in his videos.

CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News — they all called. It was a feel-good story.

And though Dobransky feels great, he keeps coming back to his students.

“I don’t think I’m doing anything special,” he says. “The cool thing is the kids’ reactions.”

They react with awe. Their favorites are his selfies, when he holds his phone and records himself shooting backwards.

Dobransky was offered a half-time spot during last spring’s NCAA March Madness. COVID squashed that.

But so far, nothing compares to the surprise invitation from the Globetrotters to perform at the Garden and Westchester County Center.

“That’s every kid’s dream,” Dobransky says. “I got the jersey, everything. The top 3 days of my life were my marriage, the birth of my kid, and playing with the Globetrotters.”

The ranking changes, he admits, “depending on if my wife is around when someone asks.”

Chris Dobransky: honorary Harlem Globetrotter.

Dobransky is an international sensation — he’s particularly big in Europe and Asia — but he’s a hometown hero too.

When he applied for work as a one-on-one trainer at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, they knew who he was. Kids love challenging him.

The Y is his 3rd home — after his home and the gym. He also works in the fitness center on Sundays, and getting certified as a personal trainer.

Dobransky’s trick-shot talents entertain viewers. They bring smiles to our faces.

But they serve a larger purpose too.

“Kids see me, and they learn that anything is possible if you try hard enough,” he says.

“And when they’re in the gym together — every race, every religion, every type of kid — they always get excited. It’s pretty cool to bring everyone together like that.”

(Follow Christopher Dobransky on Instagram: @mistertrickshot. Hat tip: David Meth)

Christopher Dobransky and friend. When the New York City high school gym was ruined during Hurricane Sandy, the NBA paid for repairs. LeBron James, Steph Curry and commissioner Adam Silver attended the rededication ceremony. “Mr. Trick Shot” did not perform — but the NBA stars would have been impressed!

10 responses to ““Mr. Trick Shot” Hoops It Up

  1. Mr. Trick Shot has to be one of the best hires of all time by the Y! I can’t wait to meet him. I’ve got an idea for a pool trick shot 😃. Another great story, Dan!

  2. Over 50 years ago Staples had its own Phys Ed teacher who would briefly demonstrate trick shots during gym class: Brian Kelley (who was the varsity basketball and baseball coach). They were nowhere near as difficult or intricate as the ones shown in the videos above; they were primarily long-distance hook shots from Steph Curry range and beyond. But the shots still elicited big smiles and “wow”’s when they went in.

    Chris Dobransky’s trick shots are indeed incredibly creative. My hat’s off to him for even conceiving some of the shots.

    My only beef: since he grew up in the NYC area, where is the love for the Knicks? I can’t believe he is wearing a Jordan jersey and then a Lakers jersey and possibly even a Celtics jersey at the end of the very first video.🤨

    • Chris Dobransky

      Haha thanks! I assure you I have Knicks jerseys and am a fan. I went through this phase where I would try to wear a different jersey each day of the year lol.

      • Chris the Globetrotter presenting you with your “O” jersey is Tay Fisher aka “Firefly” and my buddy from his hometown Kingston NY where every year he runs a well-respected summer hoop camp for kids

  3. I’ll never forget watching a bb game at Coleytown Jr High with my girl friend and her 2 younger brothers. Halftime I grabbed a basketball and walked to center court. I threw a hook shot and swish! The crowd loved it and her brothers were saying do it again. But I pulled a George Costanza and walked off.

  4. Great story Dan. Super guy who I am sure is a very inspiring teacher as well.

  5. Roseann Spengler

    Good story, Dan. And a wonderful memory for me of growing up in a household of basketball players, including one brother who received a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University.

  6. Who Knew! This is amazing and very cool! We love Chris over here at Calise’s….he’s a loyal customer and he is always giving us a shout out on his instagram account. He actually created a specialty sandwich that we decided to name after him …The Dobransky! I guess we should have named it
    Mr. Trick Shot!

  7. Elizbeth Thibault

    Super impressive! This is a great execution of science meeting athleticism!

  8. Juliana Sloane Fulbright

    It is great to hear about Chris again. I knew him from the Black Duck pre-Covid. My daughter Cat came with me too. I don’t know if Chris remembers us but he was always friendly and I had no idea how talented!!! I hope he continues to do well. Now, I have to look at his trick shots.

Leave a Reply