August 23, 2011

M-Blog: Moments

Ruining Dan Hughes' Achilles.

Moments.

We all have them.

If you are a sports fan, they are the indelible images from a sporting event you attended, watched or took part in. I have always contended that sports is the greatest reality show. No script. No tape. No editing. No one calls in to decide the champion. It takes place on the court, field, ice, mat or pitch.

Moments are also personal. You and I may go to the same event and come away with decidedly different memories. It could be the smallest detail that remains with you, or it could be the greatest play you've ever seen.

Think about what it must be like for a Silver Stars, Spurs or Rampage fan to enter the AT&T Center for the first time. The anticipation, the atmosphere, the excitement ... then getting a look at the court or the ice for the very first time. That is a moment that will stay with that fan forever.

These moments are unforgettable. One, in particular, I try to forget, but my so-called friends have a way of reminding me. You see, I'm a baseball fan and while in Sacramento, the AAA RiverCats were playing. I thought it would be nice if we walked that evening from our hotel to the ballpark. Unfortunately, while the walk may have been nice, I ending up making Coach Hughes' life miserable. Of course, I didn't make it any better when I made an Ironside reference when he spent time in a wheelchair. How he is still friends with me? I don't know.

(Ironside, for the 60's-and-70's-television-impaired, starred Raymond Burr, and an alarmingly large amount of stock footage of the city of San Francisco, as special police consultant Robert T. Ironside, forced to use a wheelchair after being paralyzed from a sniper's bullet. The show also featured a theme song from the incomparable Quincy Jones.)

Moments.

Any Game 7. Nothing like the feeling of anticipation when you know history will be made.

Opening Day / Night. All the hopes and dreams and promise of the season beginning.

The bittersweet feeling at the end of any season. As a broadcaster, I'm always amazed at how fast a season flies by. I miss all the people I work with and I am surrounded by throughout the season. Some you see again. Others you do not. As a coach, I take that opportunity to reflect on how far my players have come over the course of the season and how fortunate I am to have coached them.

Celebrating a championship.

Here are just a few more moments of mine:

Meeting Jack Buck. It went like this.
Me: "Hello, Mr. Buck. Andrew Monaco. Pleasure to meet you."
Jack: "Where you from?"
Me: "Orlando."
Jack: "How's your golf?"

Meeting Joe Paterno. It went like this:
Me: "Coach Paterno, Andrew Monaco."
JoePa: "Hey, a Paesan!"

Maryland 42, Miami 40. Roof. Orange Bowl. Down 31-0 at the half, Frank Reich delivered the greatest comeback in college football, as the Terps stunned Bernie Kosar and the Hurricanes. (Reich would do it again, subbing for the injured Jim Kelly, rallying the Bills, down 35-3, past the Oilers in an AFC Wild Card game.)

The Len Bias Show in Chapel Hill. Bias scored 35 points in the then-recently opened Dean Dome. The steal, the reverse, the game-saving block , he put on a brilliant display. Incredibly, incredibly bittersweet looking back and thinking what might have been.

The roof at N.C. State's Reynolds Coliseum nearly exploding when Spud Webb stole an inbound pass and dunked.

Almost getting run over by Olden Polynice at the ACC Tournament.

Witnessing the beginning of Villanova's magical run to a national championship.

David Robinson at Navy.

Couldn't find my seat at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, went to the "wrong" location, turned out to be ESPN's broadcast booth. Got hired to do stats and work with Dick Vitale because the regular statistician never showed up.

Four consecutive days in May. (What I remember)

Game 6, IHL Finals, Houston. (Won. Yippee, get to do a Game 7.)

Orlando Miracle first WNBA game vs. Minnesota Lynx in Mankato, MN. (Our assistant coach forgot to bring his dress pants to the game and took the bus to downtown Mankato to buy a new pair.)

Game 7, IHL Finals, Houston. (Lost. Player telling team on bus to airport he's retiring. Flying home on Magic team plane.)

First Miracle home game. (Incredible atmosphere.)

Becky to VJ. That's all you have to say to a Silver Stars fans, and they know the exact moment, against Sacramento to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Sophia Young's game-winner vs. LA. I don't know if I was happier for Sophia, the Silver Stars -- or my arm. Every time the Silver Stars made a great play in that game, my TV partner Marsha Sharp would hit me. Same spot, time after time. Believe me, to get black and blue for the silver and black, was well worth it.

Oh, and that time this season, when I stabbed current TV partner, Brenda VanLangen, in the leg? Hmm. Maybe I'll leave that for another blog.

Bus rides (and the often-times hilarious moments at convenience stores or truck stops in the middle of the night), plane rides, car rides, conversations, friendships. I thank each and every one of you, players, coaches, broadcast partners, who have shared your thoughts and your time with me.

It is those moments that will always stay with me.