The Writer's Cramp Daily Prompt (850 words)
|When the Phoenix Suns were at their zenith I was there with them. Well, I would say I was their biggest fan but that’s difficult to prove. The season after the Suns lost in the Finals I had my moment in the sun.
I was working as a sportswriter for a small weekly newspaper and because our readers were from Gilbert, Arizona which is where Suns guard Danny Ainge lived I got the opportunity to do a special story with him. Mind you my weekly contacts were all the area high school coaches and athletic directors, not a professional team.
Making the arrangements to meet with Danny Ainge was a drawn out process but my perseverance finally paid off. They arranged for me to attend a Suns private practice. I entered the room about the same time as the players from another door. Wow, they were much taller in person.
I got to watch from a loft area built directly behind one of the baskets. The team was paired up with their starters against the second stringers although the Suns alternated starters at some positions. I was allowed my camera because I had a one-day Press-pass. Superstar Charles Barkley, now an NBA Analyst, wasn’t only my personal focus but that of the entire team at times. That’s right Ainge was my story and I got shots of him at the line, he was their best shooter, doing a layup and shooting a three pointer which he was also known for.
The vantage view through a clear backboard allowed me to catch Sir Charles stuffing several times. The Sun's manager was Paul Westfall and the all-star players included: Dan Marjerle, Kevin Johnson, A.C. Green, and at the time Mark West was the starting Center. Oliver Miller and Joe Klein were back-ups. A memorable moment was when Charles was backing down on the seven-foot Klein and I heard Charles say “You can’t stop me you’re gonna have to foul me.” The next time down the floor when Barkley went to back down on Kline, Joe fouled him and Charles was down on the floor. I caught the action with pictures.
All good things come to an end they say. Something I didn’t notice was the Champion sports agent was taking pictures and he had words with me saying my flash interfered with his camera that was wired into his instant flash network, so my picture taking was done. During a practice break, Sir Charles came up and sat next to me and a couple of ladies. There are three people I am intimidated by: Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird, I had no problem speaking with anyone else. My opportunity came and went as all I could do was say hi.
I got to do a one on one interview with Danny Ainge immediately after the practice but I was only into my third question when the doors flew open and the rest of the media poured in. I didn’t get enough information so the media director arranged for me to attend a game of my choice with a press pass. I had to think, Ainge once played for the Portland Trailblazers so I selected that game.
The day of the game couldn’t come soon enough but when it did I was nervous, excited and overwhelmed at the same time. The pass mailed to me got me in the Press door nearly an hour before the game. I was invited to attend the buffet put on by the Suns for the media. I saw the TV personalities I knew and the former head coach, announcer and the owner Jerry Coangelo at the dinner. It was a feast and they put it on before every game.
It was nearly game time so I followed the sportswriters up to the press box. Wow! Each reporter has their own little suite, complete with a couple monitors and a Birdseye view. Then the game started. As a fan I was thrilled but looking at the other sportswriters I noticed that they were emotionless, they were stone-faced. So I had to bottle up my feelings as I watched the game. After every quarter a “runner” hands you the statistics for the game.
With the press pass immediately after the game, I went into the locker room. I interviewed not only the Suns but then went to the visiting room and asked what some the other players thought of Danny? Al-star Clyde “the glide” Drexler was a gentleman and had nothing but praises for Ainge. Three-point shooter Terry Porter was a little more candid with his response in true Terry style. He wasn’t quotable then but said, “Shoot, that boy couldn’t hold my jock strap.” I asked if I could quote him on that and he said he didn’t care. I’m so glad I used a tape recorder.
Personally, I can’t think of a better job than as a beat sportswriter. I guess that’s why landing a job like that takes years of paying due diligence or the lucky break of a lifetime.