For some people, Christmas is the greatest time of the year. Other
people like Thanksgiving. Some people like summer in general. Some
people spend all year looking forward to opening baseball or the Super
Bowl. Everyone seems to have a favorite time of year. Mine happens to
be the second week of March thru the first week in April. Every single
year, this proves to be true. I’m sure a small part of it has to do
with the fact that I absolutely *hate* winter and March is usually the
first glimmer of decent weather. 99.9% of the reason I love late March
and early April has to do with a little thing I like to call roundball.
The numero uno highlight of my year is the Minnesota State Boys
Basketball Tournament. I’ve went every year since I was in 7th grade. I
think I also went when I was in 5th grade, but that isn’t part of the
story. Since I was 7th grade, me and my pops along with my buddy Cory,
his dad, and his uncle Doug have skipped out of school/college/work on
Thursday. We’d shack up in a few hotel rooms and make a weekend out of
it. Some of my absolute best memories of all-time are from that of
state tournament weekends. In 7th grade, I remember my dad playing an
evil trick on me. We went to games all day on Thursday and Friday.
Saturday afternoon, me and dad went to visit my grandma. The whole
time, he kept telling me that we didn’t have a hotel room, so we’d have
to miss to the championship game which was to be the Staples/Motley
Cardinals, the team who’d we’d already seen play like 5 times this
year, vs. the soon to be legendary Minneapolis North Polars. I was
seriously on the verge of tears because Cory and his family got a hotel
room and they were staying for the game. My dad said we forgot
something, so we had to go back to the hotel. As I get there, he lets
me know that they are letting me stay with them so I would in fact get
to see the basketball game. To this day, it was the greatest basketball
game I’ve ever seen. It was almost straight out of the movie Hoosiers.
Small-town team vs. a much more athletic city team. With the score
tied, soon-to-be UCONN Husky Khalid El-Amin held the ball for the last
two minutes of the ball game. With five seconds left, the Polars got up
a shot. It missed the rim completely, but a little used sub caught the
airball and laid it in as the time expired. The only reason he was in
the game was because the trimesters ended on Friday causing three
starters to be ineligible for Saturday’s final. After the game on
Saturday night, we went to eat at the hotel restaurant where we saw
quite possibly the drunkest man I have still ever seen to date. For
whatever reason, he decided we looked like we wanted to make small
talk. He proceeded to ask us where we were from ("Up north about 3
hours"). Which prompted him to ask us if we had bears up north?
Apparently, he would be interesting in having a bear as a pet if such a
thing is possible. He also asked us if we’d seen the game ("Yep"). He
said he was in the crowd, he should’ve yelled for Staples to "steal the
ball!" as North was running the time off the clock for the last shot.
He also mentioned if he was getting a basketball team together, he’d
get a few track players to run the court and a few vollyball players to
block shots. He was pretty incoherent for the next 5 minutes before he
passed out next to his bowl of soup for the remainder of the evening.
Quite lovely memories, if you ask me.
Eighth grade was a weird year. For whatever reason, Cory didn’t like me
all that much that year (he forgets about this all the time, but it’s
the truth). Still, we made the journey again with our dad’s. We were
also joined by future roommate Wiz and his dad.
I don’t remember if it was 7th or 8th grade (I think it was 8th), but I
remember my buddy Chris having a crush on one of the cheerleaders from
Staples. Again, we’d seen them play like 5 times already and every time
he had something to say about how hot the cheerleader was. Then, one
day when he were at a 50’s-themed restaurant, he was pulling his shirt
up and talking about how far he could stick his gut when "guess who"
walks right by the window right next to him. The timing was
unbelievable. What are the odds of an older girl you are crushing on
walking right by you at the very moment you pull you shirt up and stick
your gut out in downtown St. Paul? It’s got to be right up there with
the odds that you actually will one day be abducted by Alf and brought
back to the planet Melmac. These things just don’t happen!
It had to have been about 9th grade or so that we spent the whole
weekend playing on on one Nerf basketball on the door of the hotel were
staying at. We were staying at the Embassy Suites which was pretty
plush compared to hotels I was used to staying at. How we didn’t
absolutely destroy the door or go through a window is still beyond me.
I remember sitting in the bleachers my senior year being bored to death
by some of the blowouts in Class A. My buddy Reese and I started
playing the "spot a hot girl" game that millions and millions of other
bored guys have at one time or another played. We’d just be sitting
there and then all the sudden, one of us would say "Section 116, Row
32… three seats in from the left." We probably went on doing that for
two-three hours at least.
My third year of college, I recall going to the casino on Friday night.
Everyone was old enough to go to the bar, but we decided to go to the
casino instead. I had something like $10, but my dad said he’d cover
foot and tickets for the weekend. So, I spent my last $10 at the casino
and won something like $90. Even though I was up $80, I used my dad as
a financially crutch the rest of the weekend. I think I wasted the rest
of my money on cd’s or dvd’s that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able
to buy since I had no job.
Last year, I remember Cory posting on my message board (and I quote):
"Yeah baby… the state tournament is sweet. The only problem is
yuou’ll are sleeping and I’m still up… drunk bastards. I wanted to go
out tonight, but I guess I’m not going to.
PS – I Love You Lil CHEP!!!"
There are so many stories I haven’t even mentioned. I remember in 7th
grade Cory bought Dookie by Green Day and we listened to it as quite as
possible so our dad’s wouldn’t hear just because one of the songs had
the f-word in it. Or when we played poker and we had to go down to my
dad’s van to steal change because we had no money and then pretended
that we just "happened" to have like $12 in nickels and dimes. Then
when we split a $10 pot, Terry would rip up a $10 bill and give us "our
five." Another year, we practically broke a tv in order to get a N64
hooked up so that we could play 4 player Goldeneye. I could honestly go
on and on and probably wind up writing about 10 pages. It’s not the
highlight of my year every single year for no reason. It’s always a
great weekend and I can’t wait for it again this year. In case you
haven’t put two and two together, I’m going to be bouncing out of work
early this week heading down to the Cities on Thursday and Friday to
watch a little state b-ball. All the regulars are going to be there
with my buddy Cory flying in from Helena, MT just for the weekend! If I
lived out of state, I can’t help but think I would do the same thing.
This year will be the 11th straight year that I attend and I’d be
willing to bet I’m still going to the state basketball tournament when
I’m 65 and retired… if I’m still living by that age, of course!
Another thing that I won’t go into quite as much detail that makes me
love March and April is NCAA basketball. Forgive me if you are a
football or baseball diehard, but there is absolutely no doubt in my
mind that March Madness is absolutely the greatest sporting event in
the world. For the next 2-3 weeks, all you’ll hear me talk about is
seeds, brackets, and anything pertaining to the tournament. Everyone
has a favorite NCAA memory. Personally, one of my favorite memories was
sitting in the stands of the state high school basketball tournament. I
had a cellphone that was capable of getting on the internet, so I was
constantly checking ESPN’s site for updates. It was there that I
learned that Jason Williams missed a potentially game tying free-throw
and the team that I’ve hate more than any other team, the 2002 Duke
Blue Devils, were nothing more than an afterthought. I remember
gloating to all the Duke fans sitting around me (mainly Cory and my
high school basketball coach) how the Dukies lost! They didn’t believe
me, but when we got home, it was all over ESPN. Maybe once out of every
10 years, you get a national championship that doesn’t live up to the
hype. Never do you get a Final Four that is a complete bomb, though.
There honestly is nothing like it in any other sport. Try to argue it
with me if you’d like, but you are quite simply wrong.
Anyways, a little site news for y’all – I’m still planning on running
new entries for Thursday and Friday. It’s actually an entry I’ve been
working on for about two weeks now. I really think you’ll enjoy it and
I suspect it will bring some more subsequent postings to the forum.
It’s kind of been done before, but I decided it’s time for an update.
Here’s a hint – it’s not my top 100 movies list (that’s hopefully
coming later this month!), but it’s not too far off. I’ll leave it at
If you’re out on your bike tonight, as always, do wear white,