I can't do it yet.
Last night was too hard.
It was not hard because the Storm lost, they still have two more games in this series.
It was the possibility of it being the last Storm game in the Key, the last game I get to see a Bird/Jackson pick and roll, the last time I get to see an Lauren Jackson turnaround fadeaway on the baseline, the last time I see Izi turn on the turbos and beat everyone to the hoop on the break, the last time I see Betty drive to the hole, score and draw the foul (or several at the same time), the last time I see A-Rob soar wrists above the rim for a rebound or a block.
I'm just not ready.
I start to think I am ready and I read that LJ almost lost it when we gave our standing ovation at the end of the game. I'm still not ready. I'm not used to this. I was MAD when Gary Payton was traded. I was ticked that we let Tully go to Indiana. It was not so visceral, so emotional. I've asked it before. What is it that these women do to me that I feel something closer than just a sports fan relationship with them.
Why does it feel personal?
Why does it feel like I am in a custody battle with some distant, wealthy relative from Oklahoma City who thinks I am not raising my child right?
Phoenix Mercury player Kelly Schumacher said it right on the flight from JFK to SEA when I sat with her after the 2006 All-Star Game. "Not with your girls, huh?" She was right. They are my girls. Even though Wendy, Astou and Betty are just a couple of years younger than me, they are still my girls. I feel like I have been there while LJ has blossomed from this shy, young phenom into one hell of a bad ass on the court and that makes me a part of it. My youngest son has grown up with this team. LJ is the first basketball player whose name he knew. He was saying "LJ for 3!" by the end of last season at the age of 2 1/2. He has been to NBA games, he has seen them on TV, but if you ask him who the best basketball player in the world is, he doesn't even blink before saying, LJ. The Storm are a big part of the relationship I have with him. Going to Storm games is our special thing. We go to them, just the two of us. Mom and his big brother come to some, but really, it is our thing.
I am sure Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon don't care about that. Why should they? I only spend a few hundred dollars a year on Storm tickets and a thousand or so on Sonics tickets...why should that matter to them? I didn't make around $2.5 million in salary last year like Aubrey did...and my stock options were measured in thousands, not hundreds of millions. People like my son and I don't show up on their radar. We are like those annoying No-See-Um bugs I grew up with in New England, invisible pests you wish you could just get rid of.
I realize I will get over it should they rip our teams from our embrace. After all, there are certainly more important things in life. My dreams this week have been filled with ghosts of miners, storms, burning planes and collapsing bridges. Wars are being waged and innocents are dying around the globe. I do have perspective in all this. They are still my girls. Whether they win or lose tomorrow, they will still be my girls. I will watch the game and share in their joy or their frustration just like I do each game. Then I will compartmentalize my feelings, do what I can, and edge slowly towards the looming month of December.