I am sooooo sorry…

basketball

A few years ago, I had the privilege of going on a business trip with some of my colleagues.  First of all, my colleagues are freaking awesome!  I work with the best group of people in the world.  You might think you do, but you’re wrong – your coworkers suck; you should come work with us.

We were going to a conference in Indianapolis and we had to fly.  I was super excited because I had never been on a plane in my life and this trip would require four flights to get there and back again.  I wasn’t nervous – I didn’t have a fear of flying, I just never had the opportunity to fly anywhere.  How the air marshall didn’t take me down is a miracle.  When a small child goes on his first flight, it’s cute when he flaps his arms during take off, presses his face to the window, compliments the flight attendant on the delicious peanuts, and makes zooming noises during the landing.  However, when you take your first flight in your 30’s, these things lose their charm for some reason.

The trip was awesome (even the parts when we weren’t on a plane).  Very educational conference, lots of good stuff to buy, lots of cool information to bring back, tons of good food, and a super sweet hotel too!  On top of the plane ride, I also got to go to my very first NBA game as well – I was pretty pumped.  Now, granted, I’m not a huge basketball fan, but c’mon, it’s a live professional game!

The arena was within walking distance from our hotel and as soon as we turned the corner the massive building came into view.  Thousands of people crowded the blockaded street as they migrated through the wall of doors to see their beloved Pacers.

Now because I was on a trip for work, I had left my lovely wife and young son at home.  My wife is a huge NBA fan and has a lot of family in Indiana and my son was about 3 or 4 at the time, so I had to make sure I brought them back some cool souvenirs from my travels.  Because of the enormous crowd of people, I decided I would hit the gift shop before I joined my colleagues in our seats.  I walked into their ProShop and browsed around for a while before deciding on a nice, thick Pacers hoodie for my wife and a stuffed Boomer (they’re mascot) for my little buddy.  I brought them to the checkout, remortgaged my home to pay for them, and made my way to our section.

This place was immense!  I came in at the very back of the main section and I had a long walk to get down to my seat; we weren’t too far back from having court-side seats!  It was awesome!  About halfway down the stairs, young people in suits and dresses started walking toward center court with some official looking people.  The lights dimmed slightly and the announcer came over the loud speaker.  I stopped and stood still to see what was going on, being sure to watch out for these two young boys who were chasing each other up and down the stairs and through the rows of seats.

The announcer said that someone very important to the team had passed away; I’m not entirely sure who because I was distracted when I needed to dodge those two hyper little monkeys as they zipped around me again.  They were retiring his name up to the rafters of the arena and his grandchildren were there to do the honors of the actual dedication. I really wished the parents of these two little gremlins would get them under control; it was starting to get disrespectful under the circumstances.

The announcer asked the crowd to please join them in a moment of silence as the jersey was raised up to the rafters.  It was awe inspiring to hear thousands upon thousands of people go completely silent.  You would have been able to hear a pin drop if not for the two hooligans – but they must have caught the attention of one of their parents because they quieted down and started making their way back to their seats.  I was just about to nod my approval to the situation when the two passed in front of me and one grabbed the other by the shirt collar.  The horse-collared tyke whipped around to punch his captor but missed and his fist caught me right in the “Pacers.”  The pain made my vision flash white for a second – I was instantly nauseous – my knees buckled – and, worst of all, I bellowed…

“SON OF A……”

I’d like to say that my filter was strong enough that I stopped right there…but alas…the final “ITCH” sound resonated throughout the arena and made the moment of silence a little less silent.

Luckily, my seat was still pretty far away from where the incident had occurred and the lights were still down so I hobbled down to my seat and nonchalantly (and very gingerly) sat down with my compatriots.

It is because of this moment most of all that I hope there is no life after death.  I foresee being greeted, not by lost loved ones, but by that guy waiting so many years in the afterlife to relive his basketball glory days by giving me one hell of a flagrant foul.

“I haven’t been able to slam-dunk the basketball for the past five years. Or, for the thirty-eight years before that, either.” ~ Dave Barry

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