Good morning and greetings, high surf advisory fans. Well, if you like driving rain, gale force winds and giant waves smacking up against the coast, then last week was a good time to be on the central coast. It was invigorating walking on West Cliff last Thursday morning, as remnants of the previous day’s destruction was evident all along the path. I love being on the coast when a storm is raging. Or as author Alice M.Swain once remarked, “Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” I couldn’t describe my personna any better.
On Thursday’s sunrise, gorgeous red clouds appeared, which caught me by surprise as I thought there would be as much color in the sky as you’d see at a Tea Party clam bake. There was some disappointment about not capturing this morning glory, but when I called Peter Townshend, he said he had also missed it, but reassured me with his words “We won’t get fooled again.” I then thought to myself, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
So during storm watch Wednesday, I reunited with my old radio partner, Jerry Hoffman of 12 Sports Productions, and headed up to UC Santa Cruz to attend Media Day for the Santa Cruz Warriors. As a flower child of the 60′s, I’m still amazed that in 2012, Santa Cruz is the new home of a professional sports franchise. The only pro action I had previously seen in our little kelp-filled conclave was the Coldwater Classic down at Steamers Lane. Personally, I’m much more a fan of a warmwater classsic, due to shrinkage issues and the fact that it’s difficult to wipe out in a hot tub.
Anyway, getting back our new NBA Developmental League team, it got me to thinking about the pick and role that basketball has played in my life. My earliest memories are from grammar school, where we were once beaten by a score of 82-5 by a team that featured a sixth grader that went on to play in the NBA. My favorite memory from high school was the six days a week of basketball practice. My fondest thoughts from my college days at UCSC were playing basketball at the East Fieldhouse while doing research for my doctoral thesis on the importance of playing strong weakside defense.
After graduation, I took my game to Jade Street Park in Capitola, where running with my basketball buddies was always the highlight of the day. When I moved down to Hermosa Beach, you could catch me on the basketball courts in Manhattan Beach, a place where NBA players would sometimes show up and throw me around like a ragdoll. When I returned to Santa Cruz after a ten year stint in SoCal, the action was at Willlowbrook Park in Aptos, where I still practice my arts and what’s left of my craft on Saturday mornings.
Hoops also played a big role in my working life. While attending the University of Colorado, I had trouble with a statistics class that I ultimately had to drop because I had no idea what was going on. After graduating from UCSC, my brother Paul, who by this time was working for the NBA as Director of Video Promotions, helped me secure a job a a columnist for the league’s magazine “NBA Today,” in which I created a column called “Stats The Way It Is,” which detailed everything you ever wanted to know about NBA statistics and more. I’m not sure if that’s ironic, sardonic, and chronic, but it started me down the road to writing about my passion in life, pro hoops and men’s fashion.
Here’s a little side note. One night, when my son Jason was six or seven, we were watching a Laker game together, and he turned to me and said “Daddy, can I keep stats on Shaq and Kobe?” I was stunned, as had never mentioned my statistical past to him. I handed him a yellow pad and he went to town, tracking field goal attempts, free throws and how many Laker girls were natural blondes. At that moment, I knew there would never need to be a paternity test to determine if he was really mine, so that UPS driver down in Hermosa was finally off the hook.
I should also mention that playing basketball with my son while he was growing up was an incredible joy, as I never let him beat me. But as he got bigger, quicker and stronger and I was no longer able to stop him from scoring, I did what fathers have done throughout the ages and passed the torch. I stopped keeping score. This way, I could retire undefeated, because at that point, he was destroying me. In fact, he was so inspired by this transformation of events that he wrote one of his statement essays for his UC application on beating me like a drum the first time. The king was dead.
When I was a student at UCSC, my DJ brother and I did a Sunday night radio sports show on KZSC. This led to me interviewing Hall of Fame New York Post baskeball columnist Peter Vescey, who I later worked for as an indentured servant, staff writer and later co-writer on and off for decades. It also led to a brief stint working for NBC as a field producer for “Showtime,” where I was lucky enough to interview the likes of a Kevin Garnett, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson. Bottom line, I have been living and breathing NBA basketball for years, and having the Warriors come to town with their D-League team is just an added treat, like having Direct TV’s NBA League Pass beamed into my home in a non-HD format for the last 12 years.
One final basketball note. When I first met my wife Allison, she told me her father had Laker season tickets right off the floor at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. Despite the fact they were not actually courtside, this was not a deal breaker and it did not affect our budding relationship. In later years, when I asked her if she wanted to go to a game, she repeated the words her mother had told her father. “Call everyone you know, and if no one else can go, go alone.” Now you see why I married her.
For this week’s photo lineup, we are continuing the sunrise serenade, as on this late October morning I headed up to UCSC to shoot the action overlooking Pogonip. When I arrived, the fog was blowing through, taking away the pure color but adding drama to the moment. When the mist partially cleared, I started to shoot, and you can see the morning evolved into a beautiful experience, as the multi layers of color decorated the sky from the trees to the sea. Love those early bird specials.
On to a little late night. “President Obama and Mitt Romney met at the White House. I guess it was a closed event: There was no press allowed, there were no cameras, no recordings — to which Mitt Romney said, “I’m not falling for that one again.” – Jay Leno “Today Mitt Romney had lunch with President Obama. It was an awkward moment when the bill came and Obama only offered to pay 47 percent.” – Conan O’Brien
“Powerball officials say two people won the $580 million. Congratulations to the winners — Mitt and Ann Romney. President Obama had lunch with Mitt Romney. There was an awkward moment when Romney looked around and said, “So how much do you want for the place?” A prison inmate in Oregon who shot his own jaw off has demanded the state pay for his surgery. At least that’s what I think he said.” – Conan O’Brien.
So that’s our first blast for the new month. We’ll catch you leading your team to three Super Bowl championships while going down in history as one of the greatest and handsomest quarterbacks of all time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tom Brady fans.