So I should have a review of the 30-for-30 on Phi Slama Jama that aired last night on ESPN. It involved UH’s greatest team during an era when the school was dominant in many different sports, none more so than basketball. A lot of people tweeted me asking what I thought.The reality is I did not watch.
While these are great for people who might have never heard of Phi Slama Jama or only had vague recollections of it, I have found the 30 for 30s that focus on events I know about or covered to be somewhat lacking. They are more broad brush reminders of what once was. I don’t know if that is the case, because in all honesty I was not interested.
I did not need to see the story of that team. I lived it. I was at almost every game they played. I lived and died with every made or missed basket. I remember every play and every post game quote from that day in Albuquerque like it was yesterday. I knew the players and hung out with many of them. I went to high school with Alvin Franklin — one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen — and sat in stunned silence as he missed free throws. As Hakeem (then Akeem) was badly out of position on the last play. As Benny Anders almost stole the ball before the Hail Mary and almost took it the other way for a glorious game-ending dunk. A moment that is replayed every year during the tournament. A moment I don’t really need to see again.
But it is in these moments we often find more important victories. The UH basketball teams of the 70s and 80s — and the same era Oilers — were the only teams I was ever truly invested in as a fan. I learned a lot from that game. I learned that for every magical moment, there is someone devastated on the other side. As memorable as the Dwight Clark catch was, there were thousands of shocked Cowboys fans. When Keith Smart hit his jumper, it broke the hearts of many a Syracuse fan as Indiana celebrated. In every great sports moment, there is great disappointment as well. Houston fans took it in the gut again when the Oilers lost in Buffalo. But by then, I had a different mindset. After Albuquerque I made the decision to no longer be a fan, but to write about those moments. Highlight the feelings they engender. And as an editor, pick and choose the stories and photos that best brought out the raw emotions that tear at the gut and bring elation at the same time. Finally, as a radio host to understand how both sides feel.
For that, I will always be thankful, because it put me on a path that has me where I am now. Those emotions have served me well in my writing. That sense of loss has translated into fiction and many other projects I have been involved with, and when I need to call on negative emotion, I can tap into those memories. I have no shortage of positive ones to call on when needed. But to understand the true joy in anything in life, one has to experience devastating loss. This was my experience in the sports world.
So, no, I do not feel the need to see the documentary. This was my moment. Selfish as it may be, I am not really interested in someone else’s interpretation. While it was great to see UH getting some love on ESPN, and I am sure it was well done and enjoyable for many — especially those who did not live it — I can almost assure you there is nothing in it I have not already seen.
And I know how it ends.
(This would be a nice segue into quote of the day, but you will have to keep reading…)
Speaking of UH…Duke Catalon should return against SMU, but his injury remains a concern.
OK, time for the three shame bells of the week:
To the Big 12: Not for failing to expand after putting everyone through months of worthless, time-wasting speculation (We already said it made sense for them to stay put). But for releasing a memo telling the schools what they are supposed to say. It parroted what the leaders said in their masturbatory press conference to announce they were not doing something. It’s not just the media that manipulates; it is business, organizations, and sports leagues with false statements and PR and “crisis managers” who tell people what to say, and the world accepts it at face value, when the reality is it is just a pack of lies to save face. Can’t anyone tell the truth anymore? “Some people wanted it, some did not, we could not come to a consensus so sorry for wasting everyone’s time.” Would that have been so hard? Instead your leaked memo tells us that was the case anyway, and you are a bunch of lying hypocrites. It is a shame these people are responsible for major universities, but in reality, it is just part of corporate America, where spin and PR are so common we don’t even care anymore. Shame bell No. 1, and maybe shame of the year so far.
To the NFL: The league is taking a lot of hits for silly rules, shoddy leadership and poorly officiated games. Even TV commentators paid to promote the product are speaking out. But the league has only itself to blame for creating the most overblown conspiracy in history with the ridiculously stupid deflategate scandal. And now it won’t die. This conspiracy theory has now risen regarding Aaron Rodgers. The tin foil hats are out in full force. Maybe the guy is just not playing well. It happens. He has taken a beating over the years. But no, let’s come up with this instead. Come on, man. Shame bell No. 2.
To Florida: Because there is no state that provides more bizarre stories. Stories like this one. “Hey dad, I have a job interview. Can I get a ride?” “Sure, honey. Good luck.” And now dad is an accomplice to a crime. I guess we should thank the not so great state of Florida for providing us with so much humor. But for today, Shame Bell No. 3.
Gambling update: So already looking at a couple college games as we look to bounce back from last week. BYU plus 7 at Boise will likely be a play. I am going to keep an eye on that line and see if it gets outside of 7. Almost every game BYU has played has been close and they have faced much tougher company than Boise. Might even take the Cougars money line in a smaller wager (plus 235)…Also considering South Florida-Temple under 60…Old Dominion has a solid football team. Their only losses were at App. State and NC State. They are on the road against a good Western Kentucky team. But WKU has been struggling of late to stop anyone. The number is ODU plus 13.5 right now. Would like to get to 14 before I pounce but liking this one a lot…Finally, in the CFL, Vegas has not caught on that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing excellent football. Montreal is not. On the surface this is a 5-10 team vs. a 4-11 team. The 4-11 team has lost six of its last seven. The 5-10 team has won four in a row. The Riders got us our one win on Saturday and look good again this week. They are -6.5. Hit it before it goes up to 7.
Later, gator: OK, so this guy made it to 88 years of age, so he must be doing something right. After reading this story about feeding gators, I can’t imagine what it is.
A new World? I like HBO’s Westworld. But it is a little early to get crazy about it. It’s amazing that there are already this many podcasts out there. Three episodes in? I like podcasts but they are getting to be like Twitter accounts. Everybody has one.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“One who cannot leave himself behind on the threshold of the moment and forget the past, who cannot stand on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without fear or giddiness, will never know what happiness is; and, worse still, will never do anything that makes others happy.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche