Category Archives: Sports

Paying college athletes? Worst idea ever

I really love college football.

I think it’s the best sport in the best time of the year. Sure, I love fall weather too – and I’m sensing that in my new home in Connecticut, there will be more fall-like weather and less of that Oklahoma four-day fall stuff.

Thursday night was the debut of college football, though Saturday is the real First Day of the Season. It’s immaculate, really. Except this season, it seems so weathered, almost dirty. Scandals of people taking money, stealing, embezzling… it’s rotten.

Honestly, how can anyone think that paying players is a good idea? Paying players would only perpetuate these awful actions. “Oh, he’s got money… I’m going to find out how I can get some too, come hell or high water.”

I am so tired of hearing how college athletes earn money for universities – guess what? We all do in our own way. We all pay tuition. Most big-name college athletes don’t, but more importantly, all universities make money off of those who pay tuition. It’s called business. And the NCAA doesn’t monitor that… just those who try to make their amateur status a lot less honest.

I’m going to put my “pride in your school” mantra aside for this, though I believe that you should play because you love the game and the school you’ve chosen first, not the dividends. I admit that’s naïve. It’s what color the sky is in my world, and I refuse to give up the belief that some college athletes subscribe to that belief. But college is inherently a tryout for the NFL for a lot of players, so let’s just acknowledge that some people’s motives might not be as pure as others.

I had a really good time in college. Really, really good. I am paying for my tuition through the good folks at Sallie Mae. I will be until my 50s. It’s my fault for taking the long way through college – but I wouldn’t change course even if given a time-traveling DeLorean. Even though throughout college – and late high school, for that matter – I was broke. I’ve been broke for years, and am just now crawling out of the Monster Debt’s jaws. I worked at McDonald’s, a chicken fried steak house, a convenience store – all while carrying a full load of classes. One year I juggled freelancing with a full-time management job at a restaurant and an internship. I got pneumonia. I was exhausted. But my mother’s words, “Once you get that diploma, they can’t take it away” pinballed through my head.

I got the degree. And worked making very little money. For years and years and years. Sure, I wanted to make more money – but I knew I had to earn it. And once I earned it, I was so appreciative. I had done it… and learned a whole lot along the way. Now, I’m marketable because I worked every job they asked me to do, from McDonald’s, to the newspaper industry, to TV where I am now. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

Why do people feel so damned entitled to everything? The old adages are true: There is no free lunch, nobody rides for free, you can’t always get what you want… Star college athletes – guess what? You just haven’t earned it yet, baby… you have to struggle. You get two, maybe three years of “hard time” in college (which I WOULD relive if given a DeLorean) and then what? A career in the NFL… millions. The stars don’t have to pay tuition or room and board, so they don’t even have to work. How ‘bout studying? Get that degree, finish what you started, just in case your Cam Newton face and talent don’t get you as far as you thought.

It’s a travesty to the game of football, college athletics, a huge slap to everyday athletes and students, to imply that some players need to be paid for their college years. They haven’t earned it – and they won’t appreciate what’s been given to them.

College students are poor. And those who just put their heads down and work through it usually end up doing alright. Don’t scam, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t lie – just make it work. Know that there is something at the end of the hard work. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

People really like quoting the Founding Fathers these days, usually to bash a member of their opposing political party. Here’s another use: Do you think our Founding Fathers would approve of paying college players for being good at sports? I love sports – more than almost anything – but really? We barely pay our military, and some might get free military education, but it’s certainly not the kind of treatment football players get on campus. Our Founding Fathers, Mothers and Livestock worked their asses off. And many died before the work was done and they saw results. Martin Luther King Jr. worked his ass off. And died many years before we had a black man as president, much less equality.

I’m not arguing what people make in the NFL – I realize it’s a hard job and the shelf life is short. Make your millions in the NFL. But you have to earn your ticket there. And no one’s going to earn anything if it’s just handed to them again and again.

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Artificial Nails and a trip to the Mothership

So I haven’t blogged since the Rapture threat. Bet ya’ll thought for a second that I’d been raptured on up, didn’t you? Then you took a moment to look back at my scandalous blogs and realized I use a lot of dirty words, which according to most studies of Rapture, would automatically disqualify me for a spot in heaven.

I’d rather be down here with all you sinners anyway.

The day after the Big Fake Rapture, Sunday, we had a horrific tornado not too far from my home in Tulsa, in Joplin. People outside of Oklahoma may be shocked to learn that Joplin is close to Tulsa — about an hour or so, actually.

No joking — that tornado was awful, and I have a few good friends who survived, but will never be the same. Prayers for the whole city.

Later that night, Tulsa was visited by the loudest, most obnoxious hail storm I’ve ever heard in all my days. Egg-sized hail flung itself at my roof, freaking the absolute fucknuts out of my cats. Percy perched on my chest, then bolted, digging his Ginsu Talons into my soft chest skin. Penny went into complete hiding. Leon wanted to go outside because he’s a dog and kind of a dumb bunny.

But the best part of this story is that I had to be up Monday morning at 3:30 a.m. I tried to go to bed at 9, heavily dosed on Tylenol PM. I fell asleep for about 30 minutes, woke up. Fell asleep, was awakened by what sounded like falling sledgehammers hitting my roof during the hailstorm. Woke up again at 1 a.m. with nausea. Was awake when my alarm sounded at 3:30.

This is the sign for ESPN. No, I didn't take it. I took no pictures, lest I look like a complete tourist. And no one likes a tourist.

Why, oh why, did I have to get up at this ungodly hour? I was making a trip to Bristol, Conn., to board the Mothership, and they made the travel plans nice and early.

For my reader(s) who aren’t sports fans, ESPN’s headquarters are in Bristol. It’s called the Mothership because it’s the be-all, end-all sports Mecca, the keeper of the cheese, the owner of all the playbooks. I had a job interview with ESPN for an associate editor position. Considering I only got about 30 minutes of sleep the night before the interview, it went remarkably well. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself into believing that.

Because I have artificial nails now — an attempt to wow the good folks at ESPNs, so they wouldn’t see my gnarly nubby  nails that have taken years of abuse — I am a horrible typist. So I’ll construct the Day of the Interview in timeline format so I don’t drive myself crazy. I’m a really good typist normally, but these nails make me hit extra keys. It’s tres annoying.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Time… line.

It went a lil’ sumthin’ like this… hit it!

* Wake up at 3:30 a.m., surprisingly at peace and awake. Realize it’s self-imposed bullshit, but nevertheless carry on. Shower,  get ready, eat raisin bran. I’m packed. Head to Tulsa International Airport, park the car, get stuck in security behind a chirpy church group headed to Disneyland, roll my eyes 1,000 times, board the plane.

* Travel to Detroit on the only comfortable flight I’m going to get out of this whole trip. Got a solo seat, stretched out, actually napped a bit. A little worried about why they took my bag that I didn’t want to check, afraid they’ll charge me for it and I don’t have that kind of spare money. Ask the gorgeous statuesque flight attendant with the smoothest, darkest skin I’ve ever seen. She tells me in an Atlanta accent that it’s just valet because it’s a small plane. Chill, yo. Everything is fine.

Detroit's airport

Swear to God, this is Detroit's airport. Very trippy. Kind of soothing. Altogether awesome.

* Land in Detroit, realize I don’t have time between flights, run through Detroit’s trippy-awesome airport at breakneck speed, aided by people-movers, which make even fatties like me feel like a Kenyan. Board plane that brings me back to reality… tiny Delta plane, middle seat, feeling like I weigh just over 600 pounds. Can’t relax. Sweat pours out of me, starting to feel nerves of impending interview.

* Land in Hartford, Conn., wander around aimlessly looking for the rental car place, have to ask someone, an older woman with a thick New England accent. I ask her to repeat herself twice. Sound like an Okie. Run to the shuttle. Still don’t know where they’re taking me (I’ve never rented a car) but arrive at the National lot. Go inside, get reserved car, and the guy checking me out is so impressed that ESPN is paying for it and that I’m a girl who knows sports that he gives me the nicest, newest car on the lot, a 2011 VW CC. Gorgeous… and terrifying. I get in, am about to drive off, when he comes back to my window to tell me his boss thinks he gave me too big of an upgrade. So I have to go back in, reprocess all the paperwork, get a Ford Fusion that is also nice (only 12 miles on it), load my GPS for Bristol, which is about 30 minutes away, and finally leave the car rental place. The clock in the car is set wrong, sending me into a complete cold sweat. I want to call ESPN to tell them I’m running late, but the oh-so-friendly shuttle driver has already overtly warned me of Johnny Law crackin’ down on cell-phone users in their cars. So I’m one of THOSE states, am I? In Oklahoma, driving/phone talking is regulated by the NCAA.

* Only get briefly lost on the way to Bristol. Finally figure out the clock is wrong, but still am cutting it close for my 2 p.m. interview. Especially since I have done nothing but sweat and worry since Detroit, and I’d really like NOT to look like a methed-out trucker during the interview. Check into the Clarion Hotel across from The Mothership, which if you haven’t been there, is discretely tucked into what appears to be a forest where Bambi went to get away from it all.

* Check into hotel. Do an actual shot of coffee. Wash pits/thorax and put on pretty dress. Call HR to tell them of possible lateness. No answer, leave hasty, worried message. Slap on makeup… yes, literally slap it on. It was almost painful. Race to ESPN, enter Big Time Security, get checked in at 2:08, eight minutes late, but not bad considering I just few in from Tulsa (and boy, were my arms… Oh, sorry.) Get a second to breathe, then am escorted to another building in the official ESPNmobile (not to be confused with their iPhone app! HOHOHA). Meet up with head of department.

* Interview with some extremely smart people. Fantasize about living in Bristol. Michael Wilbon said hi. People rushing around all over Making It Happen. SportsCenter anchors just hanging out in the newsroom, like actual folk, because — get this — they are actual folk. 

* Realize around 3 p.m. that the bowl of raisin bran I had 12 hours before isn’t filling me up anymore. Start to sweat coldly. Shaking commences, like sudden diabetes. My interviewer asks me if I’ve had anything to eat. She’ll make a good mom someday — picking up on clues like that. Of course I was gnawing on the news desk. She whisks me to the Caf, a beautiful place where all my dreams could come true. Cooks standing around waiting to make you things. Remember that scene in “Annie”  when she’s singing “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”? That was me in the ESPN cafeteria. The girl interviewing me didn’t seem too deterred by the singing and dancing. Later I would have dinner there, and all would be OK again. Broke out in song again.

* Interview more, learn a few of the ropes, realize how normal this place is. It’s just a huge freakin’ opportunity. Nerves dissolve somewhat, enough for me to attempt to be myself a bit more.

* Dinner. With the woman interviewing me. Turned out to be a good time, good food, excellent day. I’ve had approximately 2 hours of sleep and 300 calories, but am somehow pulling it all together. Try not to inhale dinner, eat slowly though I want to eat what I got and go back for seconds. I had the pasta puttanesca from the pasta bar, sauteed fresh with olives, garlic and mushrooms. And a garlic roll. Are you kidding me? This is available every day? Have great conversation with the interviewer, head back to the Clarion.

* Watch enough of the Thunder game to get a false sense of security. Slip into coma-like sleep for four hours, get up at 4:30 ET, 3:30 CT, realize the Thunder blew a 10-point lead, and head to the Hartford airport. Drop off car I now loathe because it doesn’t have the Corolla’s raw power and well-worn seats, go directly to Dunkin’ Donuts and get an egg white sandwich and large coffee. Smile all the way to my shoes.

* Go to Atlanta. Eat again, a Wendy’s airport cheeseburger at 10 a.m. ET. Get on the world’s tiniest plane and sit uncomfortably close to a guy who doesn’t even courtesy smile. Feel uncomfortable for three hours. Land, get the hell out of all airports, walk aimlessly around the airport trying to find my car, pay way too much for parking, go the fuck home.

* Have to call the plumber as soon as I get home. The house flooded before I went on my tour of the Eastern Seaboard. This plumbing visit resulted in a few more, lots more dollars spent, but finally, the ability to shower without flooding the kitchen.

* The day I returned was supposed to be the biggest night for tornadoes of the season. It was awful west of Tulsa, but we just got wind and storms. Still gunshy from Joplin, the entire population of Oklahoma was crammed into shelters and closets and God knows what for most of the evening. But I was finally full, just had an interview with the biggest sports organization in the world, and I was finally — FINALLY — full. The making-up-sleep part took several days to get over.

So that’s my trip. Not sure what’s going to happen with the job, but I totally was thankful for the opportunity to interview. We’ll see what happens. I’m happy here, I’d be happy there. I am doubly blessed to not be desperate for work, something I try to remain mindful of every day. But it sure was cool seeing the Mothership. Did I mention they have air hockey? In the HALLWAY?

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Filed under Sports, Travel, Tulsa, TV, weather

Why I didn’t watch the Royal Wedding

I didn’t watch  it, OK? That does not make me a love-hater, hater of love. My neglecting to watch the nuptials had nothing to do with any sort of anti-British mentality. I actually aspire to go to London first in my conquering (read: extensive tourism) of Europe. I plan to have a Joey-esque time the entire trip, shouting, “London, BABY!” as often and loudly as possible.

No, the reason I didn’t watch is was because it was broadcast too damn early and I work 12- to 14-hour days. I need sleep. Another reason? It was a wedding… a WEDDING. The wedding part would’ve been fine, I guess — one of my good friends says I should’ve watched because it cast my denomination, Episcopalian nee Anglican, in a good light. I can get behind that logic. But it had the feeling of an awards show, something else I seldom watch. I really just can’t stand all that fluff in a broadcast. I fast-forward the Oscars, or wait until the winners list is out. I just can’t do it.

Perhaps this has something to do with being an editor who’s had to cut plenty of stories to fit into tiny spaces. I can no longer tolerate deadwood. And the only opinions I care about are those of people I actually know. For instance, I will read a column by Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler after an important game, among other local columnists. I will read post-game analysis by college football beat writers. I will read a Q&A with Carrie Underwood or Blake Shelton written by an Oklahoma writer. But to hear some ditsy entertainment reporter on any host of networks go on and on and on about hats, dresses, etc.? No thanks.

Have I gone hyper-local? Perhaps. About some things.

In the case of Osama bin Laden, I went international, even watching coverage from al-Jazeera.

But that was the death of the biggest fucking plague to walk the erf in the last few decades. Killed by US — that’s U.S., U-S, One Nation Under God. At that moment, I felt united.

Friends who watched the wedding told me they felt united with the world  during the ceremony — the millions of badly-dentistried Britains in the street, while 400 million or so had their  eyes turned mistily to the tube, watching as the lovely Kate was adored by her now-husband Prince William.

The beauty is not lost on me, but  watching 14 straight hours of coverage is. I recall watching Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding. I was also 6, so my Princess Phase was in full swing. I grew out of that when my Barbies became sexually active, around the time I was 8 or 9.

And truth be told, I really loved Di. I thought she was immaculate. I think her sons are too, but maybe the wound of her death would’ve been too much for me. I cry a lot. I didn’t need my whole Friday wrecked because of the spectacle.

Friends in the newsroom told me that this was “their Super Bowl,” and if I didn’t watch, I wasn’t to make fun of those who did. And I’m not. Really. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my Super Bowl, or college football national championship, or Final Four, or even Frozen Four.

Game 6 of just about any NBA playoff game? A random May Rockies game that magically appears on TV (it happens rarely; I never see Colorado on TV unless I’m at the World, where they have every channel known to man, or if the Rockies are in the playoffs and Big Sports is forced to air them) I’d watch any day of the week.

I’m still not getting up a 4 a.m. to watch, however. And my DVR space is important to me. Recording 137 straight hours of wedding coverage sounds like that time I accidentally recorded “Ghost Hunters” seven-hour Halloween special: Annoying and DVR-clogging.

I’m glad so many people witnessed the beauty and splendor of the wedding. But please, do not think of me as The Elephant Man because I didn’t. I am not an animal.

Perhaps I am a love hater, hater of love. Andre Benjamin? You might have to help me out with this one.

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Filed under Fun!, General Nonsense, Haters, Love, Newspapers, Relationships, Sports, Travel, Tulsa

Garish Confessions, embarrassing or otherwise: The Spanx Chronicles (and beyond)

These are my confessions, brought to you today by Usher.

I haven’t blogged in two weeks. That’s not a confession, just a fact I thought I’d bring up as to clear the elephants out of the room. Damn things are always getting caught under my couch.

So yes, on to the confessions.  Some are Girl Style confessions, and thus, the harder ones to admit. But in case any of you didn’t know this yet, I don’t really care about embarrassing myself. It’s freeing, really.

So here goes.

Spanx

Like youd wear them if you looked like this anyway.

1.   Spanx make me look fatter. I’m convinced. Last week, I bought this cute little shift dress at Ross’s dress sale. I loved the way it looked in the store dressing room, when I was Spanx-less. I thought, Spanx could only make it better! Monday morning, I got all dolled up, put on the ol’ Spanx and high heels and headed to work. During Job 1, I ran to the bathroom, and while toddling in on the high heels I’m going to finally remove from my closet, got a side view of myself. I’m not a thin girl. I know this. Right now, juggling two stressful jobs, I’m probably not losing any weight, either. But still, the side view of me was very unpleasant. I went to the stall, then came back out with my Spanx down around my legs. I liked the look much better. The Spanx basically pushed all my flawed areas (read: fat) to the front, instead of keeping them in their natural place. Alas, there is no miracle. I took my Spanx off, tucked them under my arm, walked past a tour group, and then put them in my purse. No more Spanx for me. I also took the high heels off and replaced them with the flip-flops I had in my purse. Unless important people walked by. I kept the heels at the ready all day in case I need to walk by a big boss’s office. Fashion sucks

I'm just waiting for this moment to happen. Is that Kate Moss in the picture?

Im just waiting for this moment to happen. Is that Kate Moss in the picture?

2.   I cut my own bangs. I’ve had really long hair since eighth grade, after the picture fiasco. I have naturally curly hair, and in my seventh grade school picture, a piece of my then-short hair decided to stand up and say hi to the photographer. My mother loved the picture and wouldn’t let me get retakes. (Love you and miss you mom, but REALLY?) So I had long hair forever afterward, and I have good hair, I don’t mind saying, so length was always important to me. Until last year. I had a Delilah moment and cut off all my own power. ALL my hair was gone. It was cute, but I regretted it as soon as I did it. In fact, everyone who said, “Your hair is so cute!” got this in return: “Thanks, I’m growing it out.” And I have been. Now, it’s at least below my ears. Nearly ponytail length. And I haven’t been to see Brooke the Magnificent (my hairdresser) since November. It’s nearly May. So my bangs have been trimmed a few times by me, sometimes well, sometimes shakily, as I normally trim them in the morning before being fully awake. Fortunately I have thick hair that can cover a variety of sins. But Lord help me if I accidentally take off a whole chunk. That’ll be seventh grade all over again.

3. I have some of the same clothes I had in junior high. I am not a hoarder, but clothes are different for me. If it still fits, has its original color, and might come back into fashion, I don’t see why I can’t save it. I have this black turtleneck my sister Natalie bought me for Christmas in 1987 that I still wear. I realize now that the shirt is older than most of our summer interns who’ll be coming to the paper this year. But it’s warm and still very dark black, so it passes the test. And it’s a turtleneck. You only wear those when you’re extremely cold anyway, right? And under something, right? Oklahoma was privy to its share of extreme cold this year, thus came out the turtleneck. And the flower-print Doc Martens from my hippie days. If I was Renae, one of main homegirls, I’d have thrown that shit out years ago. She throws away everything. It’s who she is, and I’ve come to accept it. Once she threw out my spare housekey I gave her in case I died and needed her to feed Leon. She threw it out because “she didn’t know whose it was.” Thanks. Now I know Leon will starve. But yes, I keep clothes longer than I should. And since I’ve basically been the same size/shape since 1987, it’s OK.

I still love him.

4. I still cheer for Tiger Woods. He’s this generation’s Bill Clinton, for whom I still cheer. Sorry, they’re both beyond great. I realize Tiger is a lousy husband. I realize Tiger is kind of weird and awkward. But he’s still Tiger Effing Woods, and he’s still amazing in nearly every way except his personal life. Remember when we didn’t care what athletes did in their spare time? Or actors, or anyone else? Remember when we focused on our own lives or maybe those in our community? I say we take that approach again. Joe Namath is an alcoholic, and he’s still a living legend. We forgive the older generations their faux pas because TMZ wasn’t following them around exacerbating them. So yes, I still love Tiger. Good luck this year, mate. Fuck ‘em if they can’t let your private life be private.

This idiot, Rick Sanchez, is one of the main reasons I quit watching 24-hour news.

This idiot, Rick Sanchez, is one of the main reasons I quit watching 24-hour news.

5. I quit watching 24-hour news in 2004. I realize I’m a newsperson and I should probably keep up. But working for a newspaper makes you realize a lot of truths about the industry: TV people are actors, who have a very small staff that trolls for news. Usually good-looking staffers. Newspapers are large-staffed, moderate-looking people who don’t worry about camera time. We’re the ones actually pounding the pavement and breaking stories. And with websites and an actual understanding of how they work, we’re proving it over and over again. I don’t watch the nightly news, or have the ticker on. Ever. And it’s freeing. If I want to read something, I seek it out myself. And since I work for a newspaper, it’s pretty easy to find! I suggest everyone give up the 24-hour news cycle, even ESPN. See if you really miss it.

I hope you enjoyed the Garish Chicken’s confessions. I guarantee you there will be more, since I am clearly the most ridiculous person alive.

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Filed under Brain Disorders, Fun!, General Nonsense, Haters, Love, Newspapers, Sports, Tulsa

I’ve got my health… and not much else.

Perhaps I’m the stupidest person on earth. I think this because I seem to find freedom in bondage, pain in happiness, and liability in irresponsibility.

Who needs cash when you've got Tim Riggins?

I’ve been more cash-strapped than ever these last few weeks. It’s a combination of reckless spending on lunches and dinners I didn’t need coupled with ridiculous gas prices, increased food costs and the fact I haven’t had a raise in going on five years. (Viva journalism!) I was all sad and mopey about the fact that I’d have $40 to live on for two weeks until I made it through the first week spending barely anything. Just five more days to go. And I’ve got $35.

I’ve been working harder than ever, 12 to 14-hour days. And I’m looking for freelance gigs. And still, I smile on.

Turns out, I don’t need to eat lunch out every day. Turns out I have cabinets full of food, freezers full of treats and a condiment-stacked fridge containing all sorts of flavor-enhancing goodies. I think this is God’s way of telling me I need to take Lent more seriously. I gave up going out to eat for Lent, with the exception of one day a week. I haven’t honored that vow since Day 1. Lent unfortunately coincided with the craziest time of my career, when I got a new job that I’m still getting used to and the NCAA Tournament came to town. And the only consolation I received was a fast meal, usually from Taco Bueno.

Have I mentioned how glad I am to be somewhat back in the world of sports journalism? It feels like home.

But I’ve cooked dinner every night, brought my lunch to work and even taken my own cans of Diet Coke to the office. I’ve gotten lucky, too. For some reason, Netflix gave me a free month of service. I had a luncheon to go to and my friend Frances is helping me out by paying my way. I was able to buy the staples at the grocery store. I have plenty of pet food… as long as Leon doesn’t go on an eating binge.

Now if I could just find some trash bags… I might borrow some from my workplace. Or use paper bags from the store. Or just throw it on the ground, hobo-style. Canyou compost paper towels?

That’s another thing: I’ve got paper towels and toilet paper. I would spend my last dollar on making sure those things are stocked. I won’t live in an uncivilized world without paper towels. I am not a barbarian.

Really, all these decks I’ve stacked against myself came down, and I’m still in a great mood. I don’t have money, but I’ve got health (finally… I was sick for a week, hence the lack of Garish Chicken posts), I’ve got a computer I can surf and write with, and I’ve got friends who I adore.

And I’ve always got Netflix. I spent my sick week watching streaming episodes of “Friday Night Lights,” and kind of got strung out on that show. Tim Riggins, I want to marry you. Not the real person. Tim Riggins.

Oh, and I’ve got an account at the Press Club should I really, really need a cheeseburger or a beer. Come Friday, that may sound pretty good.

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Brushes with hoops fame and other basketball tales

Allen Iverson, the Only Answer

Allen Iverson, the Only Answer

I love basketball, and this is my favorite time of year for it. I finally become an expert after months of pretending. After Sunday, I’ll be able to find my Cinderella Fella and board the bandwagon.

It certainly won’t be a Big 12 school, I know that. Kansas is a shoo-in, and unless Baylor or Colorado gets crazy lucky, they won’t be making the tournament.

What we need is another George Mason run like they had in 2006. Tired of these big dogs.

But enough about that, I want to share some hoops-related anecdotes from my checkered history with the sport that I can’t play, but have always loved.

Nicolas’ slightly racist faux pas

Nick learned basketball from going to games and playing Nintendo’s “Double Dribble.” He loved it. But he was only 4 or so. Every parent has a story to tell about “That One Time, When My Kid Realized The Difference Between Races.” My story will be saved for a later time. In fact, if I get some feedback, this would be a great blog.

My brother, sweet, caring boy that he was, was enamored with basketball players. He was born in 85, so he got so see some of the best ever while a young boy. I don’t remember how or when this happened, I just know that in a public place, my bro observed some black men. He pointed at them, shouting “Dad! Look! Basketballers!” much to my stepdad’s shock and/or awe. Soon after, Nick made a friend, Delwyn, who was black. He didn’t call him a basketballer. I’m pretty sure my stepdad sat him down and gave him The Talk after the shouting incident.

My love for Preston Basketball

I went to Muskogee High School in Oklahoma. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of my hometown. I was always a little jealous of my sisters’ small school, Preston, in Okmulgee County. It’s a tiny, but active, district that graduates a lot of great students and athletes. My sister Natalie’s basketball team won state while she was there, and Lila’s team was pretty good too. Now, my nephew Jesse, Lila’s boy, is on a Preston team that is in the state basketball tournament this week. The Pirates beat the Pawnee Black Bears last night (Pawnee, home of OSU’s Keiton Page!) in the state quarterfinal game and is headed to the semifinals today.

I’ve been to more Preston basketball games than any other school. I walk in those doors and see my sisters’ names on the banners, and will soon see my nephew’s name, too, and I get verklempt. I love that tiny town. I love the smell of the concessions stand. I wish my school would’ve had a shade of the spirit that the Pirates do. Small-town hoops is crazy fun.

Chasing down Allen Iverson, nearly being stepped on by Chris Webber and stalking a working computer

I’ve covered one NBA game in my career. And I wasn’t even a reporter then, but a copy editor. Allen Iverson was coming to OKC with the 76ers while the New Orleans Hornets were playing in OKC after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I got my media pass to the game and ambled on into the Ford Center, terrified of what was going on, but trying my hardest to look like I was In The Know. Not easy for a 5-1 girl to do in a room full of giant men who were, in fact, In The Know.

I didn’t know where Press Row was, and I couldn’t find anyone to tell me. So I just walked to the courtside chairs and sat down on the side of the court, on the floor, and watched the first quarter. Allen Iverson’s scarred legs were right by my head. Dude had some major scars from years of abuse and surgery. My love for him grew tenfold, and his yeoman-like work ethic made me want to hug him. And then Chris Webber stepped out-of-bounds and nearly ran over me. Dude is TALL. Finally, my illegal spot was deemed unsafe, and I was ushered to press row. Finally. I watched the game, interviewed some folks, and was all ready to go meet Allen Iverson in the locker room, secretly being scared I would run into naked people and be forever embarrassed. I followed a crowd nervously, still dreading the naked thing, then got to a stopping point. There was ADRIAN FREAKING PETERSON, who was still playing football at OU, waiting to meet Allen Iverson. They made AD wait for AI. My confidence was dashed. If they’re not going to let him in, what are my chances? And if I did get in, we had that whole naked thing to deal with. I knew I would stare. So I settled for an interview with Peterson and went on my way, mental pictures in check.

Then I went to the press room. I sat down, wrote my story, and panicked because I had no idea how to send it back to the paper. Couldn’t get email access. Couldn’t get it to insert into our software system. I asked the guy sitting next to me what I should do. I didn’t know who he was at first. Turns out, it was the Oklahoman‘s Berry Tramel, one of the best sports columnists in the history of the world, much less Oklahoma. He was kind and helpful, but couldn’t figure out how I should send my story. So I went further down the line of busy reporters until Darnell Mayberry, now the NBA beat writer for the Oklahoman, and another fella helped me out. I felt like the biggest loser, but they made me feel less like a loser and more like a troubled little child. “Oh, look… she’s pathetic. Help her.” They were very nice.

My story got out, and the closest I came to actually meeting AI was listening in on an interview with his wife. But I had a blast.

I have plenty more basketball stories, such as how I dazzled men with my knowledge and then they got angry with me for knowing more than them and actually having a valid opinion… but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that it’s the MOST wonderful time of the year. Enjoy it, support your local small-town basketball team, find a Cinderella, and if you get a chance to meet a famous NBA player, don’t be so afraid of seeing him naked that you don’t go in the locker room.

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Michael Jordan: The Saint

It’s nearly March and I still don’t care about basketball. I’m even wearing my basketball shirt and basketball Sanuks (update: it’s 72 degrees here today, after two weeks of sub-zero blizzardy crap, now it’s freaking brilliant outside), but I’m still not feeling the Hoop Dreams yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Oklahoma City Thunder. But college basketball is usually where my heart is at this time of year. I feel nothing for any team. The Big 12 is a heaping pile o’ crap, and TU’s basketball team isn’t going to be good again ever, it would seem. ORU ain’t beating Kansas this year, that much is true. It breaks my heart. I want them all to at least compete.

Which brings me to my point: Michael Jordan needs to replicate himself and grow up again, and play for a Big 12 school, then the Thunder. Or even the Mavericks.

Michael Jordan championship

I still wanna be like Mike.

Know this about me — you can prove to me that Jordan was Jeffrey Dahmer’s confidante, and I would just say, “Oh, you’re wrong.” You could tell me he stole his mother’s pension to fund his college career. You could tell me Jordan was on steroids, which would be ridiculous because hoops guys don’t do the roids. I would just tell you that you are crazy.

Michael Jordan is a saint. He should be in the national archives… alive. They should have a room for him in the Smithsonian. His genetic makeup should be studied. He should be on the Heisman Committee and the Electoral College.

I got into professional basketball when the Lakers and Pistons were tops, the late 1980s. My stepdad, who taught me tons about sports, loved Joe Dumars and Isaiah Thomas, and instilled in me (and his son, my brother) a deep, never-ending hatred of the Lakers. He loved the work ethic of the Pistons, and hated the Hollywood flash of the Lakers. It still resonates in me today, and Nick, my bro.

Together, Nick and I and my stepdad watched the Bulls become The Team in the 1990s. We watched an NBA game every night, usually the Bulls, but we’d take whatever. I knew the stars and bench players for every team, how they handled the ball, their backstories — I also developed a hatred of the Knicks, which has since ebbed because of their continued suckiness. I even hated John Starks, a Tulsa boy. Because he was a Knick, as well as an extreme loudmouth.

I believed in Michael. I wanted to be like Mike. I worshiped the guy. Still do. I had a life-size cutout of him that I unfortunately had to get rid of because it fell apart. I have posters, cards, framed magazine covers. He’s it to me. He’s the pinnacle of the athlete table. Unbreakable, untoppable, unbelievable. He shaped the entire next generation of hoops stars, and his legacy still hasn’t even been touched. You can call Kobe the “Next Michael,” but when have you ever heard anyone, especially a kid, say they wanted to be “Like Kobe”?

You’ll never be able to convince me, my brother or my stepdad that Jordan isn’t the best thing to ever happen to basketball, and sports in general. And if another person came along with just a fraction of his charisma, I’d be happy about basketball again.

Kevin Durant is about the closest I’ve seen in a while… but that’s a blog for another time.

The REAL No. 23 forever.

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Yes, I missed “That Game”

My Neighbor's Prius

If you look closely, you'll see a Prius buried in the snow. You Yankees may be used to this, but us Okies thinks it's the End Times! And can certainly make you not care about the Super Bowl.

I’m a big-time sports girl, always have been. But it was made worse when I spent five years as a sports copy editor for the Tulsa newspaper. Don’t know if y’all know this, but football’s kind of a big deal ’round these parts.

Anyway, I missed the Super Bowl. My ex-gay husband (he’s still gay, but now married to another gay guy and no longer living with me, as that would be weird… and we were never really married, but I digress) and I were on the phone today and he asked me what I thought about the game. And I had nothing to offer.

I’m not going off on a stereotypical rant here, but when did he start watching football all religiously and I start not giving a shit? Again, I blame BlizzBeast 2011, the Thing That Should Not Be, which has made life miserable since February began.

As if February’s spelling wasn’t all stupid and French already, now it’s ruined thanks to snow. The Holofrost (I can’t take credit for that; I read it on Facebook) is still kicking my ass, and will continue doing it until Round 2 clears on Wednesday night, which will mean I have to stay at a HOTEL, away from my PRECIOUS DOG and CATS, so I can WORK, which I why I called the Ex-GH anyway, because he has to care for these poor defenseless animals in my absentia. But again, I’ve gotten tangential.

So I watched about a quarter of the Super Bowl, then had to forage for something to eat among my depleted cabinets… and I ended up making fried chicken. Yes, I know, it was hard times, huh… but I got all distracted in flour mixtures and iron skillets, and lost track of the game. Then the Packers and their foxy quarterback made it all boring by being so foxy and good, so I quit watching and turned the TV to “Big Love.”

I chose Bill Paxton over Aaaaaron Rodgers (he has too many extra letters, might as well add more) and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, the foxiest brown man alive. OK, Benicio is hotter, but Mike is more brown. I love the spectrum of skin colors. It’s what makes me me! But Bill Paxton is not hot, and “Big Love” was recorded! What’s become of me?

But the Super Bowl is just so… overdone. And don’t get me started on that train wreck who sang the National Anthem. I think there should be a new rule. If your name is not Whitney Houston or Whitney Houston Jr., you don’t need to apply.

And if you’re WH Jr., you”ll still have to audition.

I kinda feel sorry for Fergie. I could hear her trying to sing over the obvious sound problems while my chicken was turning Golden Brown and Delicious. And I saw a few commercials. The Doritos one where the guy brings back his friend’s gramps was great.

So yeah, I saw all the really girly parts of the Super Bowl, which is kind of bizarre. Come to think of it, I only watched a few bowl games this year, and I have only watched about three quarters of hoops so far.

Could I be losing my sports edge?

I’m starting steroids. Tomorrow. If I can get out of my house.   Goddamned Snow/Mongorians.

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