Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day AND NBA All-Star weekend! What could be better?!?!

My favorite day of the year, VALENTINE'S DAY, is approaching... I CAN'T wait to celebrate it in Dallas, surrounded by my first love ~ the NBA :-P

I've dated my share of  guys throughout my years on this planet.  For most of my life, I was someone's girlfriend.  When I was 24 I got engaged to someone who plays in the NBA and 2 years after that, although the relationship ended  ~ I'm still lucky/haunted enough to see him running up and down the court on national TV or in person.  Incidentally I'd laid eyes on him in person, 3 years prior during NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland, although he doesn't remember and I wasn't sure who he was...  Haha.  That was a fun time of my life, when life was (for the most part) easy...  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ~ but that's not the point of this post.

I love basketball.  Yes, I enjoy football, baseball, hockey, and tennis.  Who doesn't appreciate the beauty of the completed pass that's run into the end zone for a touchdown or the occasional Pick 6 (i.e. when it doesn't happen against my Colts in the Super Bowl)?!?!  Who doesn't want to sit in the sun and have a hotdog and beers with friends in the summer, while hoping for a homerun at each at bat?!?!  Who doesn't want to see a hockey fight and then watch the game end in a shootout?!?!  Who wouldn't ask to be bumped off of her flight in 2008, when Nadal and Federer were battling for the Wimbledon championship (i.e.  Yes, I did it, and I have no regrets)?!?!  But at the end of the day I love basketball...

Basketball is fast.  For the most part you have 10 guys who are moving all the time.  It's a timed game: 48 minutes of game time, so unlike baseball ~ you make plans afterwards, since unless there's overtime, you know when you're going to be free.  Basketball players don't wear helmets ~ in fact, the closest you'll get to a helmet is if a player is suffering from a broken nose, and even then it's more Phantom of the Opera-ish...  Basketball is indoors and therefore, fans don't have to sit through rain delays, falling snow, or extreme temperatures.  There are 82 regualr season games...  Therefore, every couple of days a true fan can indulge in watching their team on TV or live...  For all these reasons and more, basketball is king.

I like people, and I love people watching.  In particular, I pay special attention to the psychology of sports.  You can see it in an athlete's eyes, walk, shoulders, etc. whether or not he's given up or his heart is still in the game.  Watch the huddles during a time out and you can see which players don't care and who the natural leader is on the team.  A coach is a coach, but each team needs an alpha that holds the other men on his team accountable on the court and in the locker room.

You learn a lot about the make-up of players by how they handle the "fake" fouls called on them, the "incidental" contact made on them by their defenders, their preparation at the free throw line, how they react when they shoot and miss, their decision to pass rather than shoot, and how the celebrate the win/loss.  At the end of the game, you witness the humanity or inhumanity of an athlete.  Whether they can muster enough strength to do a post-game interview, shake their opponents hand, or even permit themselves to be strong enough to cry tears of joy.  I watch athletes very closely and that's why even the most boring games can interest me.

I love people, and one of the most influential people in my life is my dad.  My dad is taller, 6'2" and I've always had an appreciation for tall.  Before my brother developed an appreciation for sports, it would be my dad and I watching the NBA on TNT.  I had a basketball hoop and played with a Dr. J basketball growing up.  I'd buy the Sporting New's NBA Preview magazine every year and study it more than I ever studied any book in my life.  I saved those old issues, and I refuse to throw them away ~ they're like family albums, since they've been with me all these years.  From those issues, I could tell you the names of teams, players, and coaches.  I was never a stats girl, but I could tell you where the player went to school, and if he was a journey-men, I could name the teams where he played previously in his career.  I never collected basketball cards, but I still have a Patrick Ewing basketball card, and I think it came out of an Olympics' themed cereal box.  I know where that card is ~ and I look for it every time I go back to my mom's house and make sure it's still there on my dresser and not thrown out.  I love my sports memorabilia (i.e. almost as much as I love my designer handbags), and my family knows not to touch the stuff (i.e. that I store at their houses) and not to throw it away.  Toss away old clothes as much as you like, but don't touch my sports stuff.

I've often contemplated law school, but at this point in my life, I never found a convincing reason to go.  I'm sure my father would like me to go into corporate law, but to be honest sports agency was appealing.  Remember the show Arliss?  I do.  It was entertaining.  However, after the NBA Lockout, I never really saw the need for an agent once the salaries were more or less predetermined by the CBA (e.g. collective bargaining agreement).  Further, once I actually met some sports agents, I decided that that path wasn't for me.

Valentine's Day connotes love to me, and love is born out of trust and consistency. Basketball has been as consistent a force in my life as my family.  Basketball games are where I would bond with my brother on my visits to Duke, with my father on Friday nights when I was in my teens (i.e. because he was strict and always tried to keep me at home), and where I would take my friends back when you couldn't GIVE AWAY Cavs tickets in the pre-Lebron era at the old Gund Arena.  I looked forward to seeing my basketball family of players, wives and girlfriends, ushers, and security, 41 times a year in Cleveland for 4 years.  Unsurprisingly players and coaches leave and find new gigs on different teams, and therefore my network expanded to numerous cities.  All-Star weekend is one time of year when we can all take a break and get together in one location, reminisce, make new friends, and celebrate our love of the game together.

Last Valentine's Day I got a ring and the stone fell out 6 months later.  YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!!  Talk about a "sign".  Forget about going to Jared's...  For anyone looking to get me a present this year, below is my suggestion.  Talk about an upgrade from the ball, I played with when growing up...



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