Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Waiting For Godunk: 'Tis the Season

My name is Kevin Owens and I have been playing professional basketball for the past six years. I decided to start a blog documenting my daily life. I have a degree in journalism and haven't written anything since college, so I figured why not. I don't particularly think I am that interesting, however when telling people about the traveling circus that is my life, they seem very entertained. I'll be contributing some of those stories once a week here at HHR. You can also now catch me on Twitter @Waiting4Godunk. Hope you enjoy!


Another Christmas has come and gone and I am happy it’s over. During this season I have a difficult time saying no to Christmas cookies. Thankfully I am back to my regular grueling workout routine. I actually stepped it up so that I can get rid of all the Sam Adams and wine I drank this past week. I really do love Christmas, I just don’t like being at home and jobless while others are sacrificing for the game. Like Thanksgiving, this is a holiday usually not spent with family.

My first Christmas in the D-League was spent in a hotel in Fayetteville, NC. I remember walking across the street to a gas station to get my “Christmas dinner,” and seeing a group of joyful people stopping for gas en route to a party…I never despised anyone more. They were off to hang out with their loved ones while I heated up a day old burrito in the microwave.

Although I would rather be playing during this holiday season, I did enjoy my time at home. I was around my family and saw the excitement on my nieces and nephews’ faces when they opened their gifts. I also had an eye-opening story told to me by my sister.

She told us how her friend’s six year old son received Philadelphia Eagles tickets for an early Christmas present. During warm-ups they walked down to the field to watch as the players went into the locker room. Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson walked passed, looked into the stands, and tossed a ball to the boy. Already an enormous Eagles fan, his day was made. He spent the remainder of the game talking about how amazing Desean Jackson is. He now spends every night tucked away in bed with his new prized possession.

This is something that is fairly common in sports. A player tosses a ball or an accessory into the crowd. A young fan catches the item and cherishes it for the remainder of his life. How often do athletes realize how much their otherwise insignificant gesture changes the life of someone else? Desean Jackson will be a hero to this boy for years to come.

I had a moment like that when I was in high school. Growing up I was a huge Boomer Esiason fan. (Unfortunately during the mid 80’s the struggling Eagles did not give me the hero I was looking for.) Even though I watched the Eagles every Sunday, I still checked the paper the next day to find out how Boomer did. I continued to follow his career after he left the Bengals for NY, and then when he moved to Arizona, and again back to Cincinnati.

During his time with New York my brother was being recruited heavily by Hofstra University, which happened to be where the Jets held training camp. We took a drive up one late summer’s day to visit the school. While walking through the training room I came face to face with my idol. I couldn’t speak; I just stared in disbelief. I finally mustered up some embarrassing greeting and handed him the Esiason jersey I was currently wearing to be signed. To this day that jersey hangs on the wall of my office. Boomer never knew how life changing that day was to me. It was a chance to meet my childhood hero.

Now I never had as many fans as Desean or Boomer…and yes I did pluralize fan…but I think about all the times after a game in which I threw a wristband into the crowd or shook a youngster’s hand. How much of an impact did I make in their lives? My friend Seth Doliboa and I had a young fan in Roanoke that invited us to his birthday party. Since we made little money, we decided to head over for a chance to make his day and for a free meal. He was ecstatic. I am sure he bragged to all his friends in school about how two of the Dazzle players came to his birthday party.

After winning the championship last year in Kosovo, I had slightly more demanding fans. After every season of my professional career it has become a custom to either graciously accept, or steal my playing jersey. I keep them in my closet so that one day when I am limping around the house, I can show my children that my knees used to work properly.

After the clinching game I was swarmed by fans asking for my jersey…and by fans I mean several middle aged men. I declined, telling them that I bring my jerseys home to show my wife. That did not seem to register. The asking soon turned into demanding. I made it back to the locker room with my jersey, only to be followed by the angry persistent fans. Apparently demanding was going to soon cross into petty theft. I figured if I wanted to hold onto this jersey it was coming into the shower with me. Now that jersey hangs in my closet next to all the others…a proud symbol of my patience and resourcefulness.

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