You know the wish can’t come true, but people say it all the time to hide their own fears, so you’ll open with it, too: You wish he could just be happy. It would be easier that way. You could just hang curtains around everything else—the past, the future, the end—and you could look down through a tunnel at him and say, Freeze. Stay right there. And he’d remain locked in this memory, the little guy with the big heart playing in the final minute of the final game of a storied arena.
Of course, it can’t stay this way. But let’s entertain the idea for a moment.
It’s March 3, 2002. The final night at Cole Field House. The building is loud tonight. The University of Maryland’s basketball team has played here for 47 years, but Cole means more than that. In the 1960s, this was where five black men from Texas Western beat five white men from Kentucky. In the 1970s, this was where a coach named Lefty came out of the tunnel before each game to “Hail to the Chief.” But this is also a place for the ordinary man. Your uncles have long told you stories of sneaking in late at night to play one-on-one in the dark.Continue Reading