This is a story with two sides. On one side, you have the energy and excitement of Husky Basketball, the intensity of a close game, the heartfelt passion of the fans, and the thrill of victory. On the other side, you have the bitch sitting next to me, a heartless fairweather intruder who cares little about sports in general and certainly not about the events transpiring in front of her very eyes. Shall we begin? Let’s.
It’s 7:30 PM. My girlfriend and I have just found our seats in the rafters of Hec Ed, two rows from the back wall, on a bench that consists of a thin plastic layer covering a concrete slab. It sounds miserable, but really it isn’t. Sure, I may occasionally steal a wanting glance at the student section, a courtside venue I used to lovingly inhabit, but amongst a sold-out crowd in an intimate arena, there truly is no bad seat. On this night, especially, it feels like nothing short of a crowded party with your closest friends. If all goes according to plan, in fifteen minutes we will be witness to the retiring of jersey #3, as we pay homage to one of the greatest basketball players in Husky history, Brandon Roy. The level of excitement keeps rising with each passing minute. It’s hard not to be taken in by it all.
It’s 7:49 PM. The ceremony has undergone a slight delay, but the court is now clear of all Trojans (of the USC variety, at least) and a buzz is emanating from the restless crowd. A couple in their mid-20’s approaches and snatches up the last two remaining seats in sight. Those seats happen to be directly on my left. I can already tell I don’t like these people. Amidst a sea of purple, they’re dressed in charcoal. The boyfriend/husband is wearing a dark grey “Washingon” tee; his girlfriend/wife displays no scholarly affiliation with her apparel. Somewhere, two people are sitting at home dressed in Brandon Roy jerseys, forced to watch FSN butcher a wonderful evening of celebration, because they couldn’t get tickets to this monumental event. The next time I drink, I’m drinking to you guys. I’m sorry you had to be forced out by two doofuses like this.
7:51 PM. Tribute video time. I’m not gonna lie. I’m a sucker for tribute videos. Tribute videos are to me what romantic love stories are to any self-respecting woman. Unfortunately, this tribute video is pretty short, but that’s okay. Here comes Brandon, family in tow, and my hands won’t stop clapping. Right now, the emotion level is right up there with the return of Ken Griffey, Jr. If I wanted to fly at this moment, I could probably do it.
“Oh yeah, isn’t that the guy who plays for Portland?” says the bitch. “He must be the one whose jersey they’re retiring, I heard about that.” Silence from her boyfriend/husband. He either hates her for not knowing who Brandon Roy is, or is amazed that she knows more about this game than he does. For his sake, I’m going with the latter. At this point, I’m ready to call the usher up to take these idiots away.
A jersey unfurls from the rafters as Brandon turns away sheepishly. It’s hard to believe that less than three years have passed since #3 graced the very floor he’s currently standing on. From this point forward, “3” will be placed as close to the heavens as is architecturally possible in this arena. One day, I’ll bring my kids here and they’ll ask about “Roy.” They’ll bring their kids who will ask the same thing. The Legend will transcend generations.
Now someone hands The Legend a microphone. “They told me to keep it short…” he begins, and my first reaction is one of utter disappointment. Whoever told Brandon Roy “to keep it short” needs to be reassigned within the university, preferably to working janitorial duty in a dorm. His speech is brief, but right on par with who Brandon Roy is. Deferent, soft-spoken, calm, sure, humble, poised. The stuff legends are made of.
“I don’t know, it just takes me awhile to get into games. I’m not really that much of a basketball fan.” We’re five minutes into the first half and this woman won’t shut up. I’ve come to the conclusion that the man she’s with must be her boyfriend, because if he was her husband, than I would be in the presence of the World’s Stupidest Human. He doesn’t seem too bright, so it’s possible, but I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning checks into the ballgame and registers a quick two points. A graphic flashes across the Jumbotron showing the native Brit standing alongside the flag of the United Kingdom. “Ohhhh, he must be the one from England,” says the boyfriend/husband. “Well, I would assume so after seeing that,” snaps the girlfriend/wife/bitch. Nice.
I’ve just noticed that a large contingent of former Husky players is sitting behind the Dawg Pack. From left to right, you have Brandon Burmeister, Hans Gasser, Zane Potter, and Jamaal Williams, each with their families and/or significant others’ in attendance as well. Warren Moon is here, as well, as is Detlef Schrempf, Spencer Hawes, Paul Allen, and the newest head coach at the University of Washington, Steve Sarkisian.
Late in the first half, a video pops up displaying gridiron highlights from years gone by, followed by an image of Sark and then a brief clip from his press conference. I have goosebumps. They cut away from the video to show the live version of Sark sitting courtside on the baseline. The crowd goes crazy. Sark rises and acknowledges the cheers. It’s interesting, because just four years ago we were doing the same thing for Tyrone Willingham. He, too, was introduced at a Husky Basketball game, sitting in nearly the same spot as Sark, rising in similar fashion to acknowledge the crowd. But something about this time around is different. The setting is different, with it being Brandon Roy night and all. The crowd is different, completely sold out and filled to the rafters. And Sark just has that appeal, kind of like the appeal that Barack Obama has, that just lets you know everything is going to be okay. I love it.
The game resumes and the Huskies get an and-one underneath. Reacting to the potential three-point play, I leap to my feet as fans around me do likewise. The bitch has been complaining about “being squished.” Farther down our row are two guys pushing 300 pounds, being asked to squeeze into a space reserved for a normal-sized individual. No wonder she’s squished.
Now, as I’m standing and cheering, I hear the boyfriend/husband and her strategize how to create more space. “You know, everytime he stands up and cheers there will be more space for you to move into,” says the boyfriend/husband. I can’t believe it, they’re plotting to take me down. I figure one of these times I try and sit down, I’ll end up right in this harlot’s lap. That should make for amusing conversation the rest of the game. There are some days I wish I hadn’t taken a shower, mostly for the sake of those around me. Today is one of those days.
Halftime, and the Dawgs cling to a narrow lead. USC’s Daniel Hackett nailed a long three at the end of the first period to cut the Husky lead by three, but nevertheless I still feel great about our chances. This is one game we cannot lose.
Here comes the halftime entertainment. It’s a group of kids with mats and a trampoline. I can already tell these kids are freaks. They begin forming pyramids of twenty or so human beings. What R. Kelly would give to be on the bottom of that pyramid right now, I think. They then transition into flipping over one another using the trampoline. Give me a trampoline like that, and not only will I flip over a bunch of kids, but I’ll dunk as well. Why aren’t these kids dunking? I’ve never seen a halftime show consisting of a trampoline that did not involve dunking. I’m severely disappointed.
Of course the only thing that can really salvage this halftime show would be dog races. They could just have dogs racing alongside these kids’ mats and trampoline while they flip over each other. That would be amazing. I think we could all appreciate that.
The second half is underway and the boyfriend/husband and girlfriend/wife are discussing literature. I kid you not. They managed to stay put for the entire halftime. I thought for sure they’d bail for a little bit, but I guess they have iron bladders. After all the halftime shifting, I think my seat has actually gotten bigger. Maybe that’s the power of positive thinking, or partly due to the fact that I’m widening my personal space every chance I get.
At the same, I’m also doing my best to choreograph my sitting and standing with the bitch. She stands, I stand. She sits, I sit. I think she’s slightly perturbed. She keeps elbowing me and fidgeting in her weak attempts to get me to move over. Not like there’s anywhere for me to go, I’m just as squished as she is. On top of that, I probably outweigh this banshee by a good hundred pounds. I feel like Walter Jones right now. Yeah, that’s right, try and move me, beyotch. I’m a rock. Come back when you’ve eaten a cheeseburger, maybe then you’ll have a chance.
A scoreboard update flashes onto the Jumbotron. The crowd cheers after seeing that Cal has been beaten by Oregon State. This development leaves only two teams at the top of the conference if we can pull out a victory. The Spawn of Satan on my left only notices one thing: “Oh my gosh! UCLA beat Washington State! Can you believe that?” Her boyfriend mutters his reply. I’m putting this guy on suicide watch.
Back and forth the game continues. The early part of the second half is usually the point where restlessness sets in. The Dawg Pack is doing a good job getting creative tonight. Every time a questionable foul is called, they start chanting “Double Foul” at the jayvee officiating crew. Late in the first half, the officials conferred for roughly two minutes on what could have been either a block or a charge, before opting to call the elusive double foul. In doing so, they pissed off everyone in the arena instead of just some people. Way to go.
A group of guys behind me are discussing the Greatest Hits of Master P. This, of course, got started when they noticed Lil’ Romeo, aka Percy Miller Jr., happened to play for USC. A different group of guys to my left, who wish only to see Miller play, keep screaming his name over and over, “Romeoooooooooooooooo!” Remember that scene in A Night at the Roxbury when Will Ferrell is telling the story about meeting Emilio Estevez? That’s the first thing I think of each time they cry for Romeo. “Romeooooooooooooo!” sounds a lot like “Emilioooooooooooooooo!”
“What just happened?” says the she-devil. “They, uh, called a foul,” says her disbelieving boyfriend/husband. Again, I’m not sure if he’s caught off guard because his better half is really this stupid, or because he’s not quite positive that they actually called a foul. Either way, I’m ready for them to leave now. There’s only about a minute left in the game and the Huskies are up by a comfortable margin. Much of the crowd is already filtering out. They ended up talking literature for roughly three-quarters of the second half.
There is a part of me that hopes these people never make the mistake of procreating, because the kid they will create will undoubtedly have no friends. Plus the girlfriend/wife would end up being one of those moms that won’t let her kid go out and play because she checks familywatchdog.us every day and noticed that three sex offenders live within a twenty-mile radius of their home. She’ll also be the kind of woman who complains to the Little League when her kid doesn’t get enough PT, in her mind, despite the fact that he’d rather pick daisies in right field than actually play baseball. She will likely pull her child out of class at an early age and begin home schooling him.
Her boyfriend/husband will lead a miserable life in which he questions every decision he’s ever made, mostly due to the fact that he married a total nutjob. He’ll lament the fact that his son spends most of his time in his room playing with dolls. He’ll break down and cry on the day his son asks if he can take ballet lessons. He’ll consider leaving the family, but after having his balls trampled on by that heartless goblin of a wife of his, he won’t have the guts to do it.
The final buzzer sounds. The Huskies, who had led by double digits with under two minutes to play, win 78-73. USC actually had a legitimate chance to tie the game with under thirty seconds to play. The Dawgs have to get better at closing out ballgames. Perhaps the biggest injustice in the slight margin of victory is the fact that Romeo never got a chance to enter the game. With about 1:30 left in the contest, USC coach Tim Floyd sent him to the scorer’s table to check in. But then, after a quick Trojan bucket and an effective full-court press defense at work, Floyd realized his team still had a chance. Even with the student section going nuts and a good chunk of the remaining crowd chanting “Ro-me-o, Ro-me-o,” Floyd still has the gall to send Miller back to the bench. To say I’m disheartened would be an understatement.
“Well that was fun, you kept me distracted the whole time, which was good.” I hate this woman. She shouldn’t be allowed within 500 feet of a sports venue. She ruins things. She’s a vortex of disappointment that could suck the fun out of a room quicker than a ten-buck ho working for a Benjamin. I hate her boyfriend/husband for bringing her to the game. Why couldn’t he find a buddy to come with him? Maybe he has no friends. Likely, considering his relationship situation.
This game won’t end on a bad note, however. We’ve managed to remain tied for first place with the victory, and will square off with UCLA for sole possession of the lead on Saturday. We witnessed history go down as Brandon Roy’s number was retired. We had celebrities left and right in attendance, and the sold-out crowd made sure we all knew just how good this team really is. You’ve gotta be proud to be a Husky tonight.
*Photos courtesy AP and SeattleTimes.com.