June 7, 1995. I was an 11-year old gangly mess of arms and legs that refused to wear shoes outside of school and couldn’t even look a girl in the face yet. But I was the biggest sports fan in the world, so who needed girls anyway. And to that point, I’d lived quite the charmed sports-life. Being born in rural north Texas, the only thing that mattered to me was that blue star (I know, I know). But after moving with my family to Houston in the early 90’s, it didn’t take long for basketball (and to a lesser extent, baseball) to get its claws into me. Soon the Dreamshake and Killer B’s were right there on the wall next to my Michael Irvin “Playmaker” poster.
So to recap, before my 12th birthday, I was in the midst of the greatest NFL dynasty there will ever be (save it, THE. GREATEST.), had seen a National league MVP and likely champ in baseball if not for a soul-killing strike, and had already witnessed my still-favorite basketball player ever carry a ragtag team to an NBA Championship.
So in Game 1 of the ’95 Finals, with the Magic up by three on the Rockets with six seconds to play and Nick Anderson at the free throw stripe, I was pretty sure I was about to explode with anxiety. I was basically batting 1.000 in big games at that point in my life (who knew that would flip so, so hard), so I had no idea what to do with my self when it seemed the Rockets may lose. My dad was plugging away on the graveyard shift, and my mom had zero interest in sports, so I was left to my own devices during one of the biggest moments I’d ever witnessed. We all know how Nick the Brick earned his nickname, but when he missed that second free throw and yet managed to grab his own rebound before getting fouled again, I spiked the remote control (don’t tell Dad) and turned off the TV to go shoot baskets in the dark to cool off. It wasn’t till two hours later, after I’d imaginarily helped Dream dispatch Shaq and Penny in Game 7 to win the title, that I came back in and watched Sportscenter. To my shock/elation/dismay, Anderson missed two more free throws, the Jet tied the game to send it to overtime, and the Magic didn’t box out Hakeem (6:10 mark).
My point is, kids are dumb. “I’ll never make that mistake again,” I told myself.
Well, some things never change. I’m still an idiot. [read more…]