BY ERID AMBINDER: MY WAY
Published March 22, 2005
Remember when you ate lunch from a paper bag?
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When you needed a bedtime story from Mom to fall asleep?
Ah, the good ole days — when life was so simple.
You never had homework to do on Saturday and Sunday. You could sit on the couch with Dad and watch the games.
Back then sports was a luxury. You could cry your way out of soccer practice or go to bed before Game 7 started and not really care you missed it.
Now, you’re more of a worrier.
And it’s very hard to keep up with sports. But you do it anyways, don’t you.
Many of you are beginning to see the sun rise on the real world, where happiness is in the shade. Student loans need to be paid for. But you have to find a job first. Oh and make sure it’s a job you love. And I know you’ve thought about marriage and a family. Forget that M3 — you’ve got a mortgage to save for. All of this has dried somewhere in the back of your mind.
Sports are like that first gulp of water after playing basketball for two hours straight.
Don’t worry, I won’t try to compare sports to having a girlfriend. I’d just like to share some thoughts on the one aspect of life that we truly never stop caring about, no matter how many times it leaves us heartbroken. We just keep coming back.
We get lost in the game.
A friend of mine said a sporting event is unique from any other kind. We know the setting. The start time. The characters. But not the plot. Would you pay $67.50 to watch a three-hour movie without a preview?
The morning after the morning after St. Patrick’s Day, I woke up unusually early. But then again, I never sleep well after 17-hours of Guinness. I think I set a world record.
Cereal. E-mail. Shower. Mosey on over to the television.
It was just after 10:30 a.m., and, in preparation for the day’s NCAA Tournament games, I found high school basketball on Fox Sports Detroit.
The game: Class D High School State Championships. Live. From the Breslin Center. Bellaire vs. Detroit Rogers.
I’ll begin with the end of the game.
Bellaire leads 68-67 with three seconds remaining in regulation. Bellaire holds possession under Detroit Rogers’s basket. A simple lob pass to the far end of the court would end the game. Instead, a Bellaire player nervously inbounds the ball to his left toward a charging teammate.
The following happened in one you-got-to-be-kidding-me motion: Detroit Rogers freshman Eric Evans stepped in front of the pass, gained possession, lobbed the ball in mid-twist toward the circular piece of iron and was fouled. Ball’s good! Four-point play. Game over. Detroit-Rogers wins! State Championship stolen.
It wasn’t yet noon on that Saturday morning, and no — I checked — the game wasn’t on ESPN Classic. I felt like Al Michaels in 1980. Like the opposite of Scott Norwood on sticky Tampa Bay turf.
I momentarily forgot about my multiple rejections — from a special lady and law schools. I didn’t think about my dog Kobe who may have cancer.
And it felt great. And I reflected, like I’m prone to do.
Sports! The greatest weight-loss system. Things aren’t so heavy after all.
What a great way to start a day.
Quite unexpectedly, another ending worthy of Casablanca would unravel later that evening in the Albu-quirky region.
Round of 32. No. 2 seed Wake Forest versus No. 7 West Virginia. This one seemed pretty predictable.
Ah. Again. Something unique about sports: you don’t know what’s going to happen — fickler than a tennis ball during a rally.
Back-and-forth — West Virginia pulled ahead and looked like it would win. Then Wake battled back with yet another clutch 3-pointer.
Enter Mountaineer Mike Gansey. The 20-year-old blew up for 19 in two overtime periods. Three-pointers. Free-throws. Two-steppers to the basket. This kid’s shots were like the parents of a teenage girl with the door closed — they were going in no matter what. I hadn’t heard of Gansey before this game. Now, I’ll never forget that he single-handedly courted the Mountaineers to Cinderella’s ball.
I left my friend Bob’s house after that game, playing basketball down Packard Street for about a quarter of a mile pretending to be Gansey. The people walking past me probably thought I was drunk or something.
Nah, just back to the good-ole days.
Not a care in the world.
For the doubters out there, just watch SportsCenter for highlights of last night’s Vanderbilt-Wichita State NIT game. Eric Ambinder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.