Last night I had the privilege of watching my 13 strong warriors in purple take down the USC Trojan basketball team, a team that is about as high on my list of favorite things as those annoying text combinations you have to type and attempt to decipher in order to have the privilege to buy tickets to attend a University of Washington basketball game.
While it is always nice attending a game in the cozy confines of Hec Edmundson Pavilion, this January night my main objective was to join the first Husky legend I ever had the privilege to root for as his number was raised to the rafters. As a college freshman now, I have the great privilege in being unable to recall most of the frustrating years prior to the Lorenzo Romar era. So while I may as well have been considered dead on arrival in terms of my future as a Seattle sports fan, when it comes to Husky basketball my freshest memories are of you demonstrating your superb basketball talent against the peons who would attempt to stop you.
The Husky teams that featured you, Nate Robinson, Bobby Jones, Jamaal Williams, Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, and Unfortunately Mike Jensen (as I would come to know him after a certain NCAA Tournament game in which you played your heart out) are what catapulted me into the Husky fan I am today. So much so, I am actually taking the time to write you a thank you letter on a blog dedicated to the team that now controls so much of my happiness based on their win/loss record. The Sonics and the NBA may have had my attention early in my life, but the league’s shitty style of play and shitty business ethics are one of the many reasons why the Huskies have won my heart. But your play is perhaps the biggest reason, something I didn’t realize a few years ago when you had the maturity to accept a 6th Man role as the team flourished into a #1 seed.
As a sports fan I tend to wear the “Tim Ruskell Glasses” in that I am immediately drawn to the hardworking, nice guys on the team that are able to produce. It is for that reason why, I must admit, Bobby Jones is my all-time favorite Husky player (and why Justin Holiday is my favorite on the current team). To be clear, declaring Bobby as my all-time favorite is by no way saying you are not a hardworking, nice guy that produces. Bobby’s underdog type performance is something I fell in love with whenever he was on the court. That’s the thing though… he was an underdog.
With everyone singing your praises in high school you could have easily become the stereotypical basketball jock who is an asshole and full of himself. In fact, you had every right to do so seeing as you turned down a much sexier school at the time in Arizona to come to a Washington program that had been as successful as John Roberts at giving the Presidential Oath on Tuesday. But you arrived on campus humbled by a struggle to get a qualifying SAT score, and after that first day on campus you began your career that would become legendary.
Now I’m sure that these past two days you have received more praise than Michelangelo got when he completed the Mona Lisa. But here is a little more food for thought if you will…
Everyone has a favorite memory of great athletes that played for their teams. For example when I think of Gary Payton I always think of a specific moment, not when he is throwing up a pass to Shawn Kemp or converting his trademark running lay-in. However it is when he fell down in pain because of an apparent ankle injury. As the medical staff ran out to him to check on his status, the entire KeyArena crowd was absolutely silent. Not one sound was made, which should be impossible in any sporting environment. Being a member of that crowd, it is then when I just came to realize how important The Glove was to everyone in that arena.
While to get back on topic, going with tomorrow’s theme in that the Huskies are playing UCLA, it is three years ago against the Bruins when you delivered on my favorite moment…
I hate UCLA. Hate them, hate them, hate them. So it is always a great pleasure when we kick their damn cocky asses at Hec Ed for the last four years. But it was the second victory of the four when it came in your senior year. Up by four with 4:30 left to play, you drained two free throws to put us up by six. Right after you hit the second free throws, UCLA inbounded to a streaking Jordan Farmar on a deep pass with a wide open layup destined to cut the lead back to four and give the Bruins some sure momentum. But instead one Brandon Roy came at blistering speed from behind and, as I shall eloquently say, blocked the flipping shit out of Farmar’s pitiful shot attempt.
Instead of a creating a game that would surely cause for a few heart attacks inside the arena — that block kept the lead at six and spurred two quick baskets to extend the lead to ten and ensured a Husky victory. That win ultimately gave the Huskies their first victory over the Bruins in all of Will Conroy’s brilliant Husky career. Not only did it provide some pleasure for the seniors on that team, it also sent those damn Bruins back down to Los Angeles with an ass kicking to prove they just visited the University of Washington.
So last night when I was able to watch you soak in some much needed love from the Husky faithful, I am one of the 10,000 in the arena (and more outside who were practically begging for tickets just to have the same experience I did) who tip their cap to you for all you have done to the program.
There were some frustrations because the group I went with all had to buy separate individual seats just to get in, I ended up being stuck between two overweight men in the bleachers who criticized Quincy Pondexter’s every step, and the temperature at the top of the arena being almost unbearable. However a few frustrations will never be able to match the joy I will always have knowing I was one of the first to see that #3 hanging in the rafters, and you were there to enjoy it with all of us. It will always be there to remind me not only of last night, but all the positives you brought, have continue to bring, and will bring to this flourishing Husky program.
With much appreciation,
Montlake Fast Break
P.S. We have dibs on little Jr. for the 2024 recruiting class