One of the certainties about life I've learned over the years - and there are not many - is that the world is governed by IRONY. The results of irony can be both good or bad. Recently, I've been experiencing one of the good ironies. For the last few months, I've been attending a gathering of ex California Bears athletes, mostly basketball players, many of whom were part of the Cal Bears team that won the 1959 NCAA Final Four and, here-in lies the irony, the same team that beat my team, the Saint Mary's Gaels in the Elite 8 ruining our chances for a crack at the championship.
Why am I breaking bread with many of my old rivals? Because I was invited by two of the players from that renowned Pete Newell team, Bill McClintock and Ned Averbuck. Tht too might be considered an irony. Just typing the name McClintock makes my ribs hurt with the honest pain of competition. I attended the first lunch with trepidation, not knowing what to expect, and drove away knowing I would be back. These men are my fellow Bay Area jocks. At each luncheon, we introduce ourselves and say a few words about our current lives. At our age, sometimes health problems are spoken of, but mostly, we talk about projects, about grandchildren, about sports in general, today's game sometimes. It's witty nostalgia and cogent observation. Smart guys all.
Recently, jocks from other colleges have been turning up. Mike Farmer (USF and NBA Hawks fame) has been coming. At the last lunch Kenny Flowers (Lowell High Prep Hall of Fame and USC starting guard) showed up. Flowers was my hero when I was in grade school. Dave Newhouse, legendary sports writer of the Oakland Tribune is a regular. Rene Hererias, the great Saint Ignatius High School and University of California Bears coach (he succeeded Newell) attends. After every lunch, I drive home feeling good that we celebrated our time as athletes, our camaraderie.
On another subject: the passing of Bill Sharman and Walter Bellamy. Bill was hired by the Warriors after Franklin Miuli, the Warrior owner, fired Alex Hannum. Hannum was a great coach and well-liked. Bill was not as well-liked, but he was an excellent coach. He took us to the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76er coached by? Think of irony and fill in the blank. If you said Alex Hannum, you are on your way to understanding how irony governs our lives. Alex and the 76ers beat us in the 6th game. As for Walt Bellamy, center for Chicago, he won Rookie of the Year in 1961, the year I also was drafted by the NBA. Walter never saw a shot he didn't like, often shooting jumpers from the corner - 3 pointers in today's game. He played D like a matador. He was a funny man. He talked to himself during games, always referring to himself by his first name. "Walter doesn't get a break." "Referees don't like Walter." "Walter's going to the free throw line." He should have been a fiction writer.
In honor of Bill Sharman, a short poem by Edward Hirsch
". . . a constellation of players
Shinning under his favorite word,
Execution . . ."
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.