Personal ethics demand that I offer a disclaimer before beginning this posting:
I am not a fan of professional sports.
I am not a fan of football, baseball, basketball, cricket, badminton, volleyball—beach or otherwise—nor am I a fan of golf, horse racing, dwarf tossing, cup-stacking, thumb-wrestling or arm-pit smelling. During my existence on this earth (a goodly number of years and still counting) I have made only two contributions to the sports world. My first contribution was to the game of football (see below), and my second was to the game of baseball. I had a brief stint at age 13 with a Little League baseball team sponsored by an American Legion Post in Maryland. My budding career as a shortstop crashed and burned when I broke my right leg while sliding in to home plate—a clean break in the tibia plus four cracks, two above and two below the break. I was in a toe-to-hip cast for several weeks, well past the end of the baseball season.
My first contribution to the world of sports was also in my thirteenth year. I participated in one—only one—high school football game played under lights in Kosciusko, a small town in north-central Mississippi (my team represented Durant, an even smaller town also located in north-central Mississippi). I was a slightly-built seventh-grader weighing less than 100 pounds, and I was a lineman.
Throughout that game I labored mightily to catch the guy carrying the football and was never successful—never even came close, perhaps because I rarely knew which player was carrying the football. My participation was mandatory, but believe me, I would have quit the game in the first quarter had a certain female student (of whom I was enraptured and for whom I pined) not been watching from the bleachers.
My performance and that of the team left our coach dissatisfied—nay, our performance left him disgusted. The game ended with our final score in single digits—zero. Our opponent’s score was in high—very high—double digits. I cannot recall the score—evidently I have either buried it in or forced it from my memories. The numbers may return in later years (it could happen), but I hope not.
The coach intensified our training by increasing the number and length of practice sessions, many of which were scheduled after the end of our school day. Shortly afterward my football career ended in a scrimmage session, essentially touch-football played without helmets or any other protection. The lineman opposing me was about twice my big, very strong and very rough, and after several bone-jarring encounters with him I suffered a broken finger when his left cheekbone and my right fist came together with enough force to break the little finger of my right hand. That contact also made it necessary that he lie down for a few minutes while the coach assessed the damage and tried to separate fact from fiction. Predictably, the coach decided that I was responsible for the accident, but it was really my opponent’s fault.
He shouldn’t have hit my fist with his face.
That ended a budding career in football—I was dropped from the team, but my disappointment was lessened by the black eye and huge lump displayed by my opponent—his good looks, or lack thereof, were severely distorted for several weeks. On the other hand (no pun intended), the metal splint I wore on my right-hand finger elicited numerous expressions of sympathy from other students, among them the girl on whom my enrapture and pining were centered. Sadly, all this was temporary—shortly after my rejection by the coach and my ejection from the team, I left that school and completed the school year in a different school, in a different town and in a different state.
But I digress—that was a rather lengthy disclaimer, but I’ll let it stand because I worked pretty hard on it, so on with the posting:
The San Antonio Spurs recently made a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, a trade which included Bruce Bowen. Cary Clack, in his column today ( June 28, 2009) in the S.A. LIFE section of the San Antonio Express-News, bemoaned the loss of that player to a rival team. I’m reasonably certain that the Spurs team, and the city, and its fans will recover from the loss, but my status as a non-sports fan in no way limits my understanding of the heartaches suffered by Bowen’s many admirers on learning of the Milwaukee trade.
Although I understand their heartaches, I cannot be numbered among those admirers. Bruce Bowen is the only professional basketball player I have ever encountered, and my memories of that encounter are not pleasant. Several years ago—yes, I’ve held this grudge for several years and I will continue holding it—I entered our neighborhood Post Office station on Henderson Pass in San Antonio and joined the waiting line directly behind Bruce Bowen.
Yes, I recognized him. When a Spurs game is on television I watch because my wife mandates it. Either I watch the game in her company or I am banished to a much smaller screen in an unhospitable back room, far from our 50-inch flat-screen plasma high-definition television set.
But again I digress—on with the posting:
Bowen stepped out of the line to a side counter, apparently to complete some paperwork. In the interim before he finished, several people joined the line behind me. When he finished he turned, saw the line and started for the rear. He never looked directly at me as I stepped aside and motioned for him to return to his original place in the line. He obliged, still without eye contact, with no change in expression and without a word spoken, in thanks or otherwise.
My first impulse was to say aloud, “You’re welcome,” but I resisted the impulse. His attitude and his failure to acknowledge my courtesy was in conflict with the Express-News columnist who in today’s issue labeled him “one of the most popular players in San Antonio Spurs history.” The columnist also wrote that after the trade to Milwaukee, the first thing Bruce Bowen wrote on his blog was, “. . . THANK YOU SAN ANTONIO!”
This is pure conjecture, but I must acknowledge that it may be possible—a remote possibility, but still possible—that the NBA star has obliquely thanked me for holding his place in line at the post office by including it in his blanket expression of thanks to the city when he said on his blog, “THANK YOU SAN ANTONIO!”
Do ya think?
I’ll get back to you later with more details.