Butterflies and Basketballs

Posted by Brandon |

It’s 6:15 AM, I’m sitting here at work (I know, I should be working) in my unwashed Washington Huskies jersey that I’ve been wearing for every game for the past two weeks – you don’t wash that luck out during a steak – and I am seriously excited, nervous and very restless about tonight’s game, a mere 10 hours away.

The day has already gotten off to a bit of an auspicious beginning. I was about five minutes late for work – missing my morning meeting that starts promptly at 5:59 AM even though our shift starts at 6:00 AM – because I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere. Luckily, it occurred to me that I was laying on the ground in Addie’s room when she went to bed, so I snuck in and there it was, on her floor, and I did it without waking her up. The problem is, the game tips off before I get off at 4:30, so I was hoping to leave early but asking to leave early after being late isn’t the best idea. Oh well, I don’t care, I’m still leaving early to get myself in front of a TV.

I was thinking about telling you about the most depressed I’ve ever been in my life, which is totally Washington Huskies/college basketball related. However, trying to keep it positive today, I’ll tell you about when my real love for Washington Huskies basketball began.

It was 2004 and things looked very bleak and typical for the Huskies, another disappointing season going into the books. But after a big loss to Oregon State that dropped them to 0-5 in Pac-10 play, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Curtis Allen, Bobby Jones and Mike Jensen went on a tear winning 11-of-13 games leading up to a season finale against undefeated and #1 ranked Stanford. The whole city was abuzz about Huskies basketball and you just got this feeling that the Stanford game was going to be something really special to attend.

I HAD to go to the game, but so did everybody else in the Seattle area. The game was completely sold out and I did not have a ticket but I figured I might be able to get one outside of Hec Edmundson Pavilion before the game. So I headed down to the arena an hour and a half before game time with $40 in my pocket - the most I was able to spend – hoping to score a ticket..

Unfortunately, when I got there, it became clear that I wasn’t the only one without a ticket hoping to get into the game. There were tons of people standing around with one finger in the air unwilling to pay the $150 price that scalpers were trying to get for their tickets. With about 20 minutes left before tip-off, I gave up trying to find a ticket and instead hightailed it back to the car to get myself to a bar to watch the game on TV, but I figured that while I was walking back to the car, I might as well keep that finger in the air and keep pitching for a ticket. About 20 feet from the car, I hear from behind me, “hey man, you need a ticket? My friend decided not to come and I have an extra.” And he gave it to me for face value, though I think I gave him an extra five dollars and I may have bought him a soda at halftime.

And the game WAS something special. The Huskies took it to Stanford the entire game and drilled the Cardinal 75-62. The euphoria in the building was something that I don’t think can ever be replicated. I’ve never been in a building that was that full of positive energy. It was absolutely amazing. It was a celebration of everything that happened during their magical run that season and it was a celebration in anticipation of what was ahead. The team was young, the team was fun, the team was really talented. Everybody in that building knew that the next few years were going to be awesome to watch and I think everybody was reveling in it during that Stanford drubbing.

And things have never been the same. Basketball is now the school’s major sport and with the Supersonics departure for Oklahoma, the Huskies are Seattle’s #1 basketball team. The expectations are Sweet Sixteens or better instead of being euphoric about an 18-10 finish.

That’s why this season was disappointing until they rallied to win the Pac-10 Tournament and then knocked off #6 seed Marquette and #3 New Mexico in the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. And now that’s why I sit here in a dirty jersey, butterflies in my stomach, trying to pass the time away before today’s 4:27 tip time hoping that my Dawgs can tear up some Mountaineers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone