I didn't have a lot of time to ruminate on this subject. It fell in my lap and I had to tackle it word association style. The deadlines of this blog can be a cruel taskmaster.
I had an instantaneous reaction, though, so rather than reflect on the subject for a little longer I just decided to run with the first thing that came to mind. Sometimes, as was suggested in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, a snap judgment can be better than a more thorough, deliberate one.
That and I'm lazy.
Here's the backdrop... let your mind's eye fade to white as we go back to a simpler time of NES and two point field goals.
The year was 1989 and I was a 10 year old in fourth grade. My school had a reading incentive program where students read a book, turned in a short summary, and got points to use in an auction based on the number of pages read. The rules stipulated that a student could only bid on two prizes in the auction, but through my assiduity (and general love of books as a child) I had compiled more than double the pages read of the next student. That meant I could place the two highest bids in the auction.
Interestingly enough, as a child I was a voracious bibliophile, but as an adult I don't have the patience/temperament to read many novels. My reading these days mostly consists of online news and sports as well as things of a technical and academic variety. Back in 1989, though, as an advanced reader my eclectic tastes ranged from easy reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, to a budding love affair with all things Terry Brooks, to biographies of early 20th century baseball players.
When the day of the auction came I was sitting pretty. Going into the event the exact manifest of prizes hadn't been revealed. After perusing the selection the first thing I coveted was a pair of lower level Phoenix Suns tickets. Like I mentioned above, I was able to secure the two prizes I wanted most, but I can't even remember what else I bid on. I remember the location of the classroom in the school. I remember that the chalkboard hung on the North wall of the classroom. I remember that we sat on the floor during the auction (desks moved to the back of the classroom). But I don't remember the other prize. Funny how memory works (or doesn't).
I guess it must have been a crappy prize.
But the tickets wasn't. Despite Miami struggling through their inaugural season (they were 10-54 entering the game) the Suns were a hot item as they had risen from the ashes of the drug scandal and were on their way to a 55 win season and Western Conference Finals appearance. In hindsight, however, it does seem convenient that I was gifted this game sandwiched between contests against the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls.
Luck of the draw.
The game took place March 20, 1989. I couldn't remember the score when I thought about this (as in whether it was a close game) or name a single player on the Heat from memory. I did, however, remember that the Suns won. It turns out, thanks to trusty old basketball-reference.com, that Phoenix strolled to a 115-97 victory. It was actually a solid performance by the Suns as they used a 36-19 third quarter to lay a savage beating on the hapless Heat.
Four Suns scored at least 20 points in the game (Tom Chambers (26), Kevin Johnson (21), Jeff Hornacek (20) and Eddie Johnson (20)). KJ dished out 16 assists and Mark West (11 points and nine rebounds) barely missed a double-double.
Something called a John Shasky started at center for the Heat.
I guess there are probably several factors that played a role in the significance of this event.
It was the first Suns game I can remember going to. I had been to other games before that, just not that I can remember details from.
It was from the fruits of my labor (although I didn't really consider the reading labor). I got the tickets so it was like I was taking my dad to the game. He might disagree after factoring in transportation, concessions and merchandise...
It was with my dad.
It didn't begin my fascination with basketball, though. Walter Davis was my first favorite Sun before Jeff Hornacek took the baton. I even had a run in with the Gorilla when I was hospitalized as a five year old (a story for another time).
The synchronicity of these events are among a myriad that have played a memorable role in shaping my overall fandom. I have a lot of great memories involving sports.
Maybe this story doesn't appeal to you since it has very little to do with anything that actually happened on the court. I already mentioned that there would be no mention of anything historically significant. Maybe your favorite game involves game X of the XXXX playoffs.
Or maybe you have a similar story. A game that wasn't really important, but still meant so much.
There are things in sports, and life, that transcend the final score.
This was that to me.