It Has Been A While

“It’s been a while
Since I could hold my head up high
and it’s been a while
Since I first saw you
It’s been a while
since i could stand on my own two feet again
and it’s been a while
since i could call you
But everything I can’t remember as fucked up as it may seem
the consequences that I’ve rendered
I’ve stretched myself beyond my means”
It’s Been A While– Staind

I hate the Celtics. Hate them, hate them, hate them. They are the enemy and have been for as long as I can remember. It is not because of my father or any family member. We liked sports, but I can’t say that anyone is a rabid fan. But at some point in time, somewhere in a time I can’t remember I made the decision that I didn’t like them.

Several hours ago, or should I say yesterday they beat my Lakers. My Lakers, none of whom would know me from Adam lost. Lost a game that they should have won, let it slip away. Such is life, things happen that are far more serious than basketball games. Things happen that are of real import, but sometimes we forget about them.

Sometimes we forget about them because sport replaces them, for however long. Oil spills, flotillas, earthquakes all go away. But that is a different post than the one I wanted to write. In fact I am not really sure why I chose Staind to start this post. I had intended to quote Mark Twain:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

It is one of my favorites. But sometimes blogging comes after work and such is the experience I had today. So my ideas are colored by fatigue and an inability to sleep. That should adequately explain why I chose to begin as I did. But even if it doesn’t, I don’t care. Too tired.

We watched the game as a family. Shouting, cheering and exhorting the team to beat those pesky leprechaun loving players from across the land. I stared at them and remembered, as I always do, the sixteen year old boy who traveled from America to Israel.

It was that summer of ’85, the one that I have said and still say changed my life. There we stood in Hezekiah’s Tunnel and shouted at the group from Boston. Another group of kids from America on a summer trip- fans of the hated ones were before us. The month prior to our trip the Lakers had finally broken the curse and defeated the hated ones. So we stood there and shouted at each other. It was in relatively good fun, though I do remember being told by a girl that she would never date a Laker fan. I’ll save that story for a different time.

Kobe was Magic and Gasol was Kareem. They don’t look like each other and their games are completely different, but still the images blurred. The children sat next to me, transfixed and asked me to tell them about the game and teach them about what had come before.

Ray Allen was on fire, firing from all over the court and scoring. I yelled at the television, begged Derek Fisher to keep a body on him. My daughter squeezed my hand and said that I should be there. I smiled and said that I wish. Dark eyes looked up at me and said that I could beat Kobe Bryant. If only the hero she sees was reality.

I so love this sport. Smiled and told her that I can’t do it, can’t beat him. Said that he is better. She looked hurt and I told her that it was ok for some people to be better at things than we are. Said that we have to try our best and that as long as we do it is ok.

We cheered out loud and danced in our seats. Once or twice I paused the action and walked up to the screen. I looked at my son and told him that I wanted to diagram the play. I showed him how it worked, pressed play, rewound it and showed it to him again.

He asked me what I wanted and I smiled. Told him that I wanted him to remember that part of basketball is about will and effort. Told him that the reason some teams win is because they try harder and that if he outworked the next guy he would find good things.

Smiled again at my daughter and asked her if she understood. I am hokey that way. I love that kind of rah rah stuff…in private, Within my home I am prone to it, but outside not so much. But I do know that the reason I have some things in my life is because I worked for them. And I know that some of those things came because I outworked someone else. I went the extra step.

I know that on the basketball court the only way I survive playing with the kids who are twenty years younger is by working harder and smarter. These are truths and life lessons that my kids can benefit from.

I hate losing to the celtics. I hate it because I hate them. I hate losing because they aren’t better. They don’t have more talent. They don’t play better as a team. But sometimes the ball bounces their way and today was one of them.

We go back to Boston for the next three games. The series is tied 1-1. In other years I might have been worried about three consecutive games in Boston, but not now. I tell the children that I don’t want to hear them complaining about the refs. We lost the game because they scored more not because the refs fixed the game.

I tell the kids that victory in Boston will be sweeter, but they are young and don’t understand it as I do. They don’t have that edge. They don’t appreciate the idea of coming into someone’s home and taking it. And for the silly Celtic fans who believe the myth of outworking the Lakers it would be especially bitter.

I want to shatter that fantasy of theirs. During the past 30 years we have more championships than they do. It is 9-4. If all goes as it should then it will be 10-4.

The hatred for the Celtics isn’t one sided. They hate us too. But it is only fair to say that both sides, Lakers and Celtic fans look down upon the other fans. We appreciate Jordan, but the Bulls were a flash in the pan. The Spurs were solid, but again flash.

No other team has the history that we do. No other team has been pitted against each other in the same way. So we have a special place in out hearts, assuming that celtic fans have a heart. Truth is that it has never been proven that they do.

The game ends and I look down to my left. The dark haired beauty is snoring softly into my side. I am fired up, but I have to smile. So I pick her up, kiss her cheek and carry to her bed. As I tuck her in I whisper that if she asked me to, I would find a way to beat Kobe.

A short time later I escort her brother into his bed. We speak briefly and he tells me that he loved watching the game with me. I tell him that it was special. He asks me to stay and I say no, I have to work. So he reaches up and hugs me. As I walk out of the room he tells me to work harder than the other guy.

Here I sit hours later, having completed part of a project. It is almost 2 AM, morning comes far too soon. Much coffee will be needed. I think that I have succeeded in my efforts, but I am not sure. But the kids have heard what I said and they have expectations. So I go to sleep now and hope that soon I can tell my son that I did indeed outwork the other guy.

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