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Marcus Slaughter: the story behind the jump

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NEWS | 04/03/2014 | Edu Bueno/Cristina Trujillo

The American re-enacts his pre-match ritual on the Santiago Bernabéu pitch.
His energy, showmanship and work rate make him one of the most valuable players in the squad. Marcus Slaughter, power forward for Real Madrid, who is always the centre of attention in the Palacio before matches because of his incredible and now-famous split jump, tells us about his acrobatic abilities and shows us, at first hand, that pulling it off requires a good warm up and a lot of concentration. He does all of this in the Santiago Bernabéu, a sporting temple for someone as passionate about football as the American is.

“I started [the ritual] when I was in Germany. It was a big game, a Cup game and I just remember running around and getting warmed up, and I just jumped in the air. All of a sudden I felt good and ready to go, and after that I did it a couple of times here and there. I've done it before this year in the Palacio, I did it a few times last year but it didn't catch the attention it's getting now. It's just basically for me to feel ready to play and get concentrated. It's just like when you see soccer players jumping up and heading the air. That's all there is to it”.

5'3'' off the ground
With his only intention being to warm up well before battle, the American gets 5'3'' off the ground, spreading his legs wide open and touching his toes in the process. However, before walking out onto the court, he has another series of rituals that help him get his head straight for the match: “I'm not superstitious at all. Before games when we go in the locker room, I have my music I listen to, I go to the bathroom and I read some passages from the bible, then I say a prayer and go out to the court”.

Slaughter came to Madrid during the summer of 2012. Years before that he made the leap from the NCAA to Europe, where he spent time playing for Turkish, German and French teams. But none of those clubs were comparable to the Whites, a team he has been with longer than any other: “This is the best there is, it is the pinnacle. I've played in a lot of different countries with a lot of different teams and when you arrive to a team like Madrid, you know you've made it to the top; there's no better team to be with".

Focused on the Euroleague
Always involved in the team's celebrations with his dance moves and jokes, Marcus tells us about the appetite that has seen the team lift five titles in two years. In fact he gets quite passionate talking about this subject: “We've won a lot of trophies in just two years, so the basketball programme is back to being that of the Real Madrid of old, like it was before, and it's fun to be a part of that transformation, to be part of history”.


To cap it off the team wants to win the Euroleague and will give it their all in order to do so: “No one has got to taste that victory. So that's the one everyone is really aiming for now. We've been there before, we lost in the championship last season. So we want to get back there, we don't want to suffer another defeat, we're really focused on that trophy”.

Admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo
Slaughter developed his love for football as a boy: “I played soccer when I was little, so I know about the sport. When I got to college I started to learn more about European clubs like Manchester United, Madrid, Arsenal and some other teams".

The power forward is full of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo: “I became a fan of Manchester because of him. I thought 'I like how this guy plays' and he has always been my favourite player. I enjoy watching him, he's a great player”.

However, if he were a player he reckons he'd have a very different role to Ronaldo: “Do you remember the player Crouch? He played for Liverpool I believe. He's like 6'7" tall. That would probably be me. They would probably use me for corner kicks to just jump up and head the ball in. When I was a kid I always thought I was Pele. I just wanted to score goals because I was fast and I was strong so I would just run around and kick the ball and score, but I think I would be used as a Crouch”.

Beloved by fans for the passion he shows on and off the court, the American would like to be remembered as a player who “had passion for the sport of basketball, a player who was a hard worker and gave it all he had 100% of the time”.