Czech’in Up with Taj # 2

Hello everyone, your friendly neighborhood super girl here. Just kidding. I am here in Brno, Czech Republic, and let me tell you this; I have never been treated this good on a team, and been this bored. Seriously, the team is quite good and the Czech National League is really bad. So I am allowed to go home for the weekends and see my family. This is the best thing that ever happened to me. They are really nice people, they do not stare at me just to stare, like the people in Italy. When they do stare, it is because they have never seen an African American. Especially one this tall and beautiful (if I do say so myself, and I do).

Everyone is up in arms about the whole Indiana and Detroit thing, and the college football fight (Clemson, South Carolina). I have several things to say about this, as you knew I would. And since this is my blog, I can do and say whatever I want. First, some days even us multi-billionaire professional athletes get up on the wrong side of the bed and take our emotions to work with us. We also have very bad days that we are not allowed to show to the public. We wear our emotions on our sleeves, and we also make very bad decisions in our lives. I know, I know, it is rarely heard of, but let me make this clear: having 2 million in the bank does not make us happy. Nor does it make us a perfect shell of the person we were when we had two dollars in the bank. Does anyone think it odd that Ron Artest and Jermaine O’Neal both punched the same dude in the hat and Detroit Piston jersey? I think that some people wanted to get paid, and since Americans have a propensity to being sued and suing, the guy in the jersey stepped up and said something very nice to those two gentlemen to make them hit him. Since I do not have two million in the bank, this is based on the fact that my heart is still beating and I am still alive in American, and I have read enough US, STAR, EBONY, and PEOPLE magazines to know that money does not make us happier, better, cuter, taller, shorter, fatter, smaller, or less angry. We are who we are on the inside and nothing we have on the outside will change that in the long run. Do I think it could have been avoided? Yes, but so could the stabbing of Monica Seles in Germany. So could the punching of Dr. Dre at the Vibe music awards. So could the woman who came on the court with us after one of our exciting wins last season. So could the killing of the woman, Margaret in Iraq, who headed the CARE agency for so many years. So could a lot of things. But like so many other things in our lives – hindsight is 20/20. That being said, I welcome any comments or questions about this, and I will try my best to answer them to the best of my ability.

Back to Brno. Let me tell you, it is like waking up every morning inside a meteorologist’s nightmare. Today, it is raining and about 45 degrees with winds strong enough to blow away Calista Flockhart. Yesterday it was snowing and about 27 degrees. The day before, it was cold and snowing heavily. I don’t know about the rest of the days, because I was in Vicenza and it was nice there. I am sick because of the weather changing every day. My deep scratchy voice, is even scratchier than ever. My knees ache and hurt constantly, but I am old and that is what happens when you get past 30 and you are still playing on wooden floors for a living.

Brno has a lot of trams (electrified buses), which eliminate a lot of pollution. However, they still have regular buses (I don‘t understand that rationale). They go throughout the city, actually through the Czech Republic. It is a cheap way to get from Point A to Point B, if you do not have a car or do not know how to drive in the snow. Brno has a university, so there are a lot of people on the trams and the buses and walking around. In Italy, there are a lot of people who ride motorbikes, regular bikes and walk constantly, but it is a bit bigger in Italy. I drove to Vienna, Austria the other day. It is only three hours from me. It is nice to drive through the countryside and not see a house or mall or store for miles. It calms me to know that there are some places that are still pure and untouched where you can drive through knowing this is how it was long ago.

My team is made up of almost all the Czech National Team’s players. They are huge too. I think our 3 and 4 are both 6-foot-5. It is absolutely amazing. We just played Valencienne in the EuroLeague, and even though I didn’t score a lot, I know that my defense won us the game. Ticha Penichero, Issis Tillis, Lucienne Berthieu, and Chantelle Anderson all play there – they also have Allison Feaster, Audrey Sauret and Slobadanka Tuvic on the injured list. We were down in the third quarter by almost 20 and came back to win by seven (I think). There was a time when I had to yell at my girls and let them know that I had their backs. I don’t think they really understood me, but I think they understood my tone of voice and the look in my eyes. It was good for them, because a couple of our players had never won in Valencienne, (me included), which by the way is in France. We took a 16 hour bus ride to get there, and let me tell you, the bus was like an old Trailways bus. It was not the lap of luxury. I didn’t want to do anything on there but sit and sleep. Argh! Then after we got there, we had practice. RIGHT!!!! We actually ran up and down in practice too. It was almost comical. The only good thing about the trip is that we showed some character and won, and that after the 16 hour journey back to Czech, I got to go home for four days to be with my family. We will not talk about officiating in Czech or in EuroLeague because basically the home team is going to be cheated for, especially if they are used to winning at home. No matter who you are, it is tough to win on the road, because there is blatant cheating going on, and no amount of yelling, tantrums, or technical fouls are going to get you anywhere with the referees.

My Head Coach is very laid back, an interesting change from Coach “T”. He is named Jan B., so of course I just call him “Coach.” He just sits in practice, and in the games, and tells you a few important things. He kind of looks like Coach (Scott) Hawk if he was Eastern European (including the belly). In practice, he yells more than in the games, but basically he allows you to play the game and make your own way and make your own mistakes. It is pretty cool. My assistant coach is a bit off. I mean he is the screamer and yeller. He wants everything to be his way, which is OK with me. But I wish it was the right way. We rarely practice defense, I mean we never practice defense. They did it the first two days when I first got here. But since then, it has been, ‘Do whatever you want in the games.’ Another interesting change from the States. I just want our girls to just try to play a little harder in practice. Did I just say that??? Me the self proclaimed HATER OF PRACTICE. Wow, I must be getting old… Speaking of age, my team’s oldest player after me is a whopping 26. That tells you something about our team. I am 34 and then I have a 26 year old, who calls herself grandmother. I don’t think it is funny either, but she seems to think so. Her name is Alicia Poto, and she played on the Australian National Team that won the Silver Medal in the Athens Olympics. She is a good kid that misses her homeland and her family. I made her some brownies the other day, and everyone decided they missed their families too (yeah they are Czech). I got to taste one of them, before they disappeared – with the plate.

Well that is enough for now. Take care of yourselves and I hope your Thanksgiving includes giving thanks for what is really important. Not sports, not houses or cars or PS2’s or marshmallows or turkeys or even that new Halo2 being released, but being here to celebrate Thanksgiving and letting those that are important to you know that you love them and you are thankful for them. I know that many of you have grudges and were hurt by someone in your lives, and swore you would never forgive them. Me too. But if I can leave you with one thing to do, choose this holiday season to make amends and really forgive and really make it a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Blessings to everyone and do not eat too much of anything. Hasta manana, amigos.