Monday, December 12, 2011

It's my birthday today. A present to myself!

Sunday, December 11, 2011, found me at my first event as a Portland Trail Blazers' season ticket holder. Holiday on Ice lasted from 2-5 p.m. I stayed almost the entire time, first going on the locker room tour, then wandering around on the concourse, decorating cookies, making crafts. I talked with the radio announcer, nicknamed Wheels, and one of the TV announcers, Mike Barrett. I met Scott, my Season Ticket Services Account Representative. By 3 p.m. Blazers were walking here and walking there, smiling at all of us, stopping for photographs or autographs as time allowed. I took lots of photos and talked to about half of the team, getting a few autographs.

Next I decided to go back to the locker room to see in any others were there. Lo and behold, there stood Coach Nate McMillan. I moved down the line from player to player and then I was in front of him. I couldn't help myself, when I started to talk, saying "I can't believe I'm standing in front of you. My Mama would be so excited. She became a basketball fan after we moved here in 2006 ... I'm sorry, I'm crying. She died in January."

I can't remember exactly what happened after that, somewhere in there I explained that I was a first-time season ticket holder. I know I felt good when Coach McMillan signed my piece of paper and took me seriously when I handed to him the PTB lanyard I had purchased in the Fan Shop, rubbing it for good luck over and over because I explained that I was going from player to player, collecting good luck for the team ever since I bought it and Gerald Wallace touched it first before putting it into the shopping bag. Coach handed me the lanyard, we shook hands and smiled at each other as I told him what a good time I was having here. Coach McMillan smiled some more when I looked to his right and said, "That's Buck Williams, right there." I patted my heart and sort of swooned. Coach Williams grinned and said, "I wish my wife could see some of this around here." The three of us laughed together for a moment. I might not be able to remember every single thing that happened, but I will always remember standing there in front of those gracious, tall men.

I rode the elevator up with them and several players. Then on the concourse Coach McMillan sat down by himself at the coloring table, waiting for folks to come see him. I sat down in front of him and he asked me what was Mama's health problem, so we talked for a few minutes about what had gone on with her health and what had happened to her on January 7. I even explained that I hoped she had just left her phone in the bedroom and was sitting in front of the TV watching the Blazers play and couldn't hear her phone. Instead she had laid down for a nap and didn't wake up. He listened and smiled kindly. I went on to say that Mama had been so impressed with the kind of young men the Trail Blazers he was leading the players to be, individuals who care about themselves and the team and Portland. He said that's what he was trying to do and shook my hand again, saying he was glad I was a season ticket holder. I said that I was so happy about it because, while I didn't want to be one while I had Mama to watch games with at home, that I had missed basketball in person after having spent six years keeping score for the boys and girls' high school teams, both at the scorer's table for home games and on the bench for away games where i used to teach English and be a librarian down in Mississippi. He grinned. I stopped rambling. Then I got up so that someone else could spend some time with him.

Later on I sat talking with Scott my account rep and asked him if he would go with me and take a photo of me with the coach. By the time we got close to the front of the line, Coach and the players had to leave the coloring table and head somewhere else on the concourse. After I had walked around in the concourse for a while, it dawned on me that I might find Coach McMillan at a different table and maybe I could get someone to take the photo I wanted. You can see the result at the top of the post.

I am so looking forward to attending our home games. I'll be able to do that on mass transit, too!

Happy 64th birthday to me!

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