Thursday, May 26, 2016

Here's to You, Mr. Roberson...

Professional basketball is a sport that does not hold my interest.  Once upon a lifetime ago, when I was a very little boy, I rooted for JoJo White and his teammates on the Boston Celtics, an affinity that stayed with me through high school, when I did enjoy watching Larry Bird's Celtics and Magic Johnson's Lakers battle annually (or at least it seemed that way) for the NBA Championship.  In the past thirty years, however, I have likely watched fewer than two dozen NBA games from start to finish. 

Predictably, I suppose, I have little to no rooting interest in this year's NBA Final Four - although there is a part of me that always roots for LeBron James.  It stupefies me - with all of the stories about all of the athletes who do really atrocious things to themselves and to others - that the world-at-large does not acknowledge just how well-put together his life is, on court and off, and just how hard he was worked to ensure that it remains so.  I get it - he is not the warmest, fuzziest fellow in the room.  I, for one, do not hold that against him.  Frankly, I care about it not at all.  Not even one little bit.   

My admiration for him does not extend to any real interest for his team, the Cavaliers.  If one looks up the term "long-suffering" in the dictionary, then one discovers not a definition but, instead, a photograph of Cleveland, Ohio.  Be that as it may, whether their hometown hero delivers a championship to them, I care not.  

Nor do I care whether the Golden State Warriors earn themselves a second consecutive NBA title.  I would note, however that if the Warriors do not want to be consigned to the same historical scrap heap as the 2001 Seattle Mariners then they would be well-advised to do so.   That season, the Mariners won a record-tying 116 games, scored the most runs in the majors, allowed the fewest runs in the majors, and boasted - in the person of OF Ichiro Suzuki - the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP.   A funny thing happened to the Mariners, though, on their way to baseball immortality.  They ran into Joe Torre's 3-time defending World Champion Yankees in the American League Championship Series and were annihilated in five games.  

Golden State has spent the past several months basking in the glow of an inordinate amount of "Greatest Team Ever" discussion and debate.  They play tonight - at home in Oakland - in the fifth game of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  They lose tonight and they will be on the golf course tomorrow.  

To the extent that I care at all which team emerges victorious in the NBA this Spring, I am rooting (if one can even call it that) for Oklahoma City.  My allegiance to the Thunder begins and ends with one player, Andre Roberson.  He was Coach Tad Boyle's first recruit to CU when Coach Boyle got hired to rescue the basketball program in Boulder in 2010.  In Andre's three seasons as a Buff, the hoops team advanced to the NCAA tournament twice.  At the end of his junior year in 2013, he declared his eligibility for the draft.  On draft night, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him - with the #26 pick in the first round and, upon selecting him, traded him to Oklahoma City.  

During his three years in Boulder, Andre Roberson earned the affection and respect of Buff fans - not simply because of his outstanding play on the court - but also because of the way he carried himself off of it and the way he went about his business.  He is an impossibly-easy-to-root-for young man. And this spring, in the NBA playoffs, he has experienced what is sometimes referred to in the business as his coming-out party...  

..and for this grizzled old Buff, it represents the all-too-infrequent convergence of a good thing happening to a good person.  One who has worked damn hard to earn it.  


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