Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gangsta Boo knows the deal about the Tigers.

And she said it best in this blog entry:

Next year our remaining Tigers will come back a lot wiser, and they'll be hungrier than they were this year.

A lot hungrier.

Listen. I know what you're thinking- we're almost definitely gonna be without Derrick Rose. We're probably going to be without CDR.

We'll be without Joey.


Seeing all the pictures of Joey standing at the podium today thanking the city for loving him so much, with his head hung so low, looking everything other than huge and beastly for the first time ever: it fucking killed me. I had some teary moments before, some of those classic "one manly tear wiped away before the kids could see" seconds here and there throughout the night and today, but seeing Joey standing there like that gave me the sobs.

Even if we win a championship next year or in five years or in ten years, it won't be Joey's.

So yeah, notice my conflicting emotions here. I want to be positive. I want to be optimistic about the future. But it literally torments my soul to see My Boys standing there looking so miserable and guilty, like they did something wrong because the championship trophy they were holding onto during the last two minutes of regulation literally slipped through their enormous, nimble fingers.

As though they hadn't tried as hard as they could.

As though they hadn't done that all year long.

These thirteen college-age kids, most of whom aren't even Memphians, brought the entire city together despite our famously severe race and class divide. And they still felt like they owed us something, that they had let us down.

It just breaks my heart.

And I want to be positive, to tell my friends and my family to keep their chins up, but it's so hard when I can't even entirely do it myself.

I don't want to leave you with the words that douchebag frat boy dads and wannabe white G losers exchanged with me at the gym where I take the kid I sit for to playgroup.

So I will leave you with this, because it's all I have right now.

But it's something.

Yesterday I had time to burn before the game so I walked around downtown Boston beforehand, trying to use up some of this nervous energy that's been accumulating all weekend- hell, all year. I walked past one of the charter schools down there, and a bunch of teenage guys were standing outside of the school talking shit and holding basketballs. As I walked by, one of them went "Holy shit! Look at that girl!" I thought they were trying to holler at me, so I picked up the pace.

Then they all started screaming.

Turns out they were looking at my hat.


I turned around and threw my fists in the air, then ran back down the block to high five them. "YEAH! YEAH YEAH YEAH! GO TIGERS! YEAH YEAH!"


So these thuggin' ass basketball playing black kids, and me with my heavily-accented cracker ass: for about ten seconds we were jumping up and down together in the middle of a major street in downtown Boston cheering for our Tigers.

And when it was over and I walked the rest of the way down the block, I ran into some of their friends and it happened again.

This never would have happened two years ago, or last year. I suspect it never would have happened any year other than now.

The tide is turning. And while you'll definitely hear commentators and columnists and writers reverting back to their original racist, classist theory that our Tigers are a bunch of street ball playin' thugs who are too moronic or undisciplined to run plays, we have some new friends and allies; kids who play ball in the same streets of Boston where Antonio Anderson grew up know Memphis now. And they seem to love it.

Like it or not, the Tigers are no longer a local phenomenon. We're national, baby. Coach Cal recruits players who polarize the general public: playground ballers, kids who look like they single-handedly keep campus area tattoo shops in business, goofy boys who get in club brawls and- most famously of all- wind up in a heap of trouble for standing on bars and makin' it rain. Instead of calling for them to be disciplined or expelled, we fall head over heels in love with them- because wow, they sure are a lot like we Memphis kids are, aren't they?

So who would you rather have pulling for the Tigers? A bunch of yuppies who sit on their couch and root for the same boring Big Ten and Big 12 schools every year, or inner city kids all over the country who watch TV, see themselves in our Tigers and decide that it's better to play ball like them than to sling rocks on their corner?

I know whose side I'd rather be on.

Let's keep it up, Memphis.

About Me

Jamaica Plain, MA, United States