My Opening Night: On The Inactive List
Faithfully watching since 1994.
I’ve seen every Opening Night of the NBA season since 1994.
For the past 16 seasons, one Sandy Dover has been in front of a television, starting from when I was 10 years old. Whether it was a November 1, 2 or 3, or an October 30 or 31, I was watching intently. It didn’t matter that I was in the fifth grade or maybe that my friends were out on food runs while I was in college at Ohio State. I was gonna make sure that I was gonna see the tip!
Well, for the first time in said years, to start my 17th season in the wonder of the wonderful National Basketball Association, I won’t be watching the League’s first game (and not because I don’t want to).
You see, times are sort of hard right now (you all know it). It goes without saying that America as we know it is going through a low, low, low economic spot not known since the 1940s, and it’s affecting all kinds of things and people. College graduates, twentysomethings and people of the arts aren’t really tearing things up right now when it comes to banking Monopoly-type of cash, let alone a living wage. And since I qualify as all three, while I’m steadfast grinding it out in this trying, at-times seemingly God-forsaken publishing business, I’ll be doubling up as a full-time, live-in nanny from dawn to dusk for the next two months, looking after the child of a very dear friend of mine. Unfortunately, there’s no cable in the house for said economic reasons.
I was kind of sore about this development at first, not that I mind watching this sweet, little boy, because I’ve known him for all of his almost nine months on Earth. No, I’m a little sore because I never once expected that Opening Night might not be a certainty for me, and that I’ve taken for granted all the times that I was able to be blessed with Anfernee Hardaway in black and Magic blue on the jump-off in ’95, or watch LeBron’s first NBA game in ARCO Arena (with the steal and memorable Dunkman slam!) in ’03 or see Michael and the Bulls play the Boston Celtics on Opening Night ’97 (especially memorable because of the beating the Chicago bunch took to…a rookie Chauncey Billups! Antoine Walker! A rookie Ron Mercer! — also the Air Jordan XIII. The original. I owned these — purchased as a gift from my dad when I was unfairly cut from my eighth grade basketball team — and Jordan was wearing these at the same time. If you’re too young to have been around to see MJ play in the very shoes that you bought because of him, trust me when I say that the experience was unreal, even if it was only a connection made via shoes. Wearing Kobe’s shoes or LeBron’s shoes while they’re playing has absolutely nothing on wearing the shoes of the Greatest of All Time while he was playing. Nothing. That is all.)
Meanwhile, this experience kind of has me in a pseudo-role of Mr. Mom (only I’m not “Money Bags” Michael Keaton, I’m not wife’d up, and I don’t have any biological children). It’s really helped me identify with being a stay-at-home parent. If you have the Internet and TV available to you, those aren’t always feasible getaways when you’re running around with a rugrat for 12 hours a day who constantly is crawling, standing up, walking and then falling on his bum (I’m literally watching over the 2010 equivalent of Tommy Pickles). It doesn’t work, so I’m gonna have to lock down on my training and writing time.
I briefly felt some sorrow until it came to mind all the players who double as dedicated fathers when they have to leave their own kids at home to play the games. “Certainly Dwyane Wade doesn’t feel great about his kids being in Chicago while he’s on the road in Miami and elsewhere,” I thought. Grant Hill has Tamia to watch his offspring, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less sad. So then I thought, “If these guys can go play the games when they likely would rather be home with their own, I can handle missing what would be Opening Night No. 17 in my ongoing love affair with the Association to watch this cute little kid for a bit.”
If not having cable to watch a little big-league basketball is my only real gripe, I don’t have anything of worth to complain about (people have other real problems).
And so it goes.
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist, and fitness enthusiast, whose work has been featured in Robert Atwan’s “America Now,” USA Today’s UWire, and Yahoo!’s Associated Content, and is a senior writer for Buckets magazine. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook and Twitter.