Week of February 26, 2016

The Perks of Being a Water Boy

The job of a college basketball student manager is pretty, well, menial. Get coach the whiteboard. Set up the folding chairs for the starters during timeouts. Curfew check. Laundry. I know – stop me before I list too many fun things. As Dana O’Neil put it in her way, way inside college basketball story:

“The demands of the job are high, the pay nonexistent and the tasks menial. Essentially, these are college students who willingly spend their entire days catering to the whims of other college students, while simultaneously trying not to interrupt the rhythms of a maniacal head coach.

So what’s the payoff? Obviously, a great seat to the game, and the chance to play the opposing team’s managers in some of the greatest basketball venues in the world: Rupp Arena, The Dean Dome, or…sometimes, you know, on the practice court. While the quality of the game doesn’t hold up to scholarship athletes they serve, the tradition does lend itself to some funny stories and ringers abound. Greg Oden played for Ohio State’s manager’s team before OSU played Maryland. Juan Dixon suited up for Maryland. The latest improvement to the manager’s game: national rankings. I miss college, dammit. – PAL

Source: The game before the game: Inside the managers’ matchup“, Dana O’Neil, ESPN (2/25/16)

TOB: “I miss college, dammit.” Sumbitch stole my line.

A Long Shot Second Chance

Jordan Murphy was a special teams guy at the University of Colorado. Walk-on. Back-up fullback. Saw action, but was by no means a standout player.  Murphy was also in the Aurora theater on June 20, 2012 when James Holmes walked into the theater in tactical gear and a gas mask, threw canisters of tear gas, and fired a tactical shot gun, a semi-automatic, and then a Glock, killing 12 and injuring 70. Murphy and his friends narrowly escaped. Here’s a story about his path since that night, and where he hopes his path will take him as he prepares for the NFL Draft.

It’s unlikely Murphy will have the movie ending and make a team in the NFL, and he’s okay with that: “So, you know, I’m chasing a dream and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll have a backup. It will be tough not to play football, but if you give it everything you have, give it everything I can, I think I would be able to leave it behind. But I refuse to say I didn’t at least try.”

Stories like this remind us tragedies are more than “trending”, more than fodder for political debate, and certainly more than an opportunity to express what’s wrong with the world today. Admit it – when tragedy doesn’t hit close to home – these are the ways in which most of us respond to shooting sprees in a country where an estimated 40% of the population doesn’t vote. Jordan Murphy’s long shot at making an NFL team serves as a reminder that tragedy lives on, and it can inspire greatness in those with the guts to try. – PAL

Source: “Jordan Murphy lived through theater massacre, now chasing NFL dream“, Jeff Legwold, ESPN (2/23/16)

The Bonus of Signing $184M Contract

Jayson Heyward has made two good moves this off-season: He decided to not resign with the Cardinals, in favor of the Chicago Cubs, and he put some of his new money to good use. When Heyward broke into the majors as a 20 year-old phenom in 2010, he met journeyman backup catcher, David Ross. Apparently Ross made quite an impression on Heyward. The two are reunited in Chicago this season. Heyward is entering his prime, while Ross is ending his career. Ross announced this, his 14th season, will be his last year. Heyward’s response: He upgraded Ross to a suite for every road trip throughout the season. What a cool thing for a super rich dude to show his appreciation. – PAL

Source: “After massive Cubs deal, Jason Heyward gifts David Ross a ‘suite’ early retirement gift“, Nick Martin, The Washington Post, c/o Carrie Muskat (2/25/15)

A Small Gesture Can Change a Life

There are times in life when the mood strikes us, and we throw someone a bone that most days we might not have. Sometimes that gesture means little, other than making someone feel good for a few moments. But other times the ripple effect is greater than we could have ever imagined. This is the situation that Denver Nuggets executive Richard Smith finds himself in. In 2009, Smith went to China to help run the Junior NBA program. Smith’s job was to pick a team of players to travel to other cities in China for a tournament. The winning team of that tournament would get a trip to the U.S. for the NBA All Star game. When selecting the team, amidst a sea of boys, a young girl stood out. She was not the best player – not close. But she was tall – 6’1 – and more importantly to Smith, she hustled and competed. On almost a whim, Smith chose Yue for the team. Her team won the tournament and the trip to the U.S.

After the trip, Yue e-mailed Smith and asked him how she could get to the U.S. to play college basketball. He put her in touch with someone, and as far as he knew, that was that. Until this fall. Seven years later, Yue is a 6’7 freshman at Cal, she’s a 4.0 student, and on the basketball team. Smith found her, almost by accident, when scouting the Cal men’s basketball team.

This is a great story, and a reminder that simple acts of kindness can go a long way. -TOB

Source: How an NBA Exec Helped Fulfill a 6 ft 7 in Woman From China’s Dream“, Les Carpenter, The Guardian (02/24/2016)

Video of the Week: 


PAL’s Song of the Week: Electric Light Orchestra – “Showdown

For all of the songs…just check it out below! It’s a good playlist.

“Did you not plan for this contingency? I mean the Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button. I’m just saying.” 

– Saul Goodman