Back in the 80's my dad worked as a psychiatric nurse in a mental health institute. He was a gifted soccer player but chose a social career over the uncertainty of professional soccer. Several of the patients he was taking care of were big fans of the local soccer team, PSV Eindhoven. Due to being institutionalized they weren't able to go to games and had to make due with an eight minute recap on TV after each game.
My dad arranged for the institute to buy 10 season tickets and he would take them in his own time to the games. Every time he left home to go to a game I sat next to the phone. If one of his patients couldn't go I was the first he would call. I was around 10 to 12 years old and jump on my bike to cycle to the stadium. I only had about 25 minutes to get there, I always made it. Throughout the years I got to see many games with my dad.
He didn't stop at that. Although he got them to the game interacting with the players was impossible. One evening my dad woke me up and told me to get dressed and get my bike. We cycled to a house not familiar to me but I did know the man opening the door. It was Michel Valke, at the time one of the better players of PSV. I remember being very impressed by the size of his TV and it was the first time I saw a VHS recorder. Some of you probably have to Google now.
What I remember most is the time Michel Valke took show me some of his memorabilia and telling the stories that came with it. He also gave me some signed player pictures, I still have them. During all this my dad asked if he would come visit his patients and talk to them. Off course he wanted to do that. At the time I was just happy with all the experiences I got because of my dad. I still appreciate them but now I'm mostly impressed by what he did for others. So why am I telling you all this? This evening I went to a PSV game again, I went with my sister who is on her 25th year as a season ticket holder. During half time I read this article on the Phoenix Suns website.
Leandro Barbosa's Selfless Act
It reminded me of my experience meeting one of my hero's and going to games with my dad. My dad died unexpectedly last summer, I still miss him but never more than during the second half of the this game. I spend the entire second half thinking about him, what he meant to me, what he has done for me and how grateful I am.
He never understood the game of basketball, not even after seeing me play in dozens of games over the past 25 years. Although he would tell you otherwise. He and I have always been competitive. There was only one basketball player in the world that he knew the name of, Michael Jordan. This meant me becoming a player who nothing like Jordan. To me that was Charles Barkley. This was many years before the internet and global coverage. We could only see some stats and some highlights once in a while. The first time we could see our players go head to head was during the 1993 Finals. This was the first time we could see the games. I don't have to tell you guys what happened during those Finals.
To rub it in my dad got me a Phoenix Suns banner, my response was: "Just wait one of these days my Phoenix Suns will beat your Bulls in the Finals". I'm still waiting for that day but I have been a diehard Suns ever since I said that. Another thing I have to thank my dad for because I've had a blast being a Suns fan. I would have loved to have taken him to a Suns game once.
If you made it to the end of this thanks for reading.......by the way PSV won tonight.