Tomorrow marks the beginning of the NBA playoffs. This, the two month span between mid-April and mid-June, is my favorite time of the year. Not my favorite sports time. There are no qualifiers. No other time of year — not my birthday, not Thanksgiving, not the season premiere of Hannibal — gives me as much pleasure as the NBA playoffs do.
For those who know me this shouldn't be too surprising. My relationship with basketball — both as a player and as an appreciator — is no secret, so naturally I'd be excited for the time of the year that features the best basketball players on Earth playing the best basketball on Earth.
My love for sports, however, extends beyond the NBA. I love NCAA basketball. And high school basketball. And pro football. And college football. And playing flag football (which I plan to do this weekend). And following the Pittsburgh Pirates. And maybe even watching a hockey game or two if it's the playoffs and I can't find my remote.
I read about sports. I talk about sports. I write about sports. I even frequent sports message boards to read other people's conversations about sports. And, as of a couple months ago, I started helping out this local AAU basketball team, so now I'm coaching sports.
And I'm married to someone who doesn't give a shit about any of this.
Actually, let me rephrase that. She likes that I'm active. She likes that my relationship with basketball has allowed me to grow close with her little brother and nephew — both of whom are budding basketball players. And she finds humor in how many seemingly random people I give pounds to when we're out together because I know them through basketball. (She also thinks hi-fives and chest bumps should be incorporated in more aspects of life. Which I agree with. Why limit them to great athletic feats? If your spouse cooks a bomb-ass meal, wouldn't a kitchen flying chest bump be appropriate?)
But, as far as the actual sports? She could give less than two shits about any of it. She gives less shits about sports than Big Sean gives about bars. To her, there's no difference between me watching the Cavs and the Celtics this weekend or me watching a group of mice in Cavs and Celtics uniforms chase after a ball of feta cheese.
Naturally, this leads to one question: How did a person so consumed by sports marry someone who doesn't give a damn about any of it?
My answer? I have no idea.
Seriously. I have no idea how this happened. I have no idea how I managed to find and marry one of the 16 women in Pittsburgh who are not sports fans. This is not hyperbole, btw. Shit, there might not even be 16 women in the city who don't give a damn about sports. I was being generous. The number's probably closer to three.
I also have no idea how she happened. One of her uncles was a star basketball player in college. Her family is filled with former high school football, basketball, and baseball players. A cousin is a star volleyball player. I already mentioned her little brother and nephew. But I didn't mention her youngest nephew, who happens to be one of the better young quarterbacks in the city.
And she's 5'9 and is in good enough shape to run marathons. She could have very easily been a sprinter, or a shooting guard, or a whatever the hell the positions are in volleyball. But she never tried out for any teams. And, aside from the year in high school she was a cheerleader, never stepped foot on any court or field. Shit, when I first met her, I assumed she must've at least played something in high school. But the only thing she played was the piccolo.
As you can imagine, this dynamic has caused a bit of friction. This is her least favorite time of the year, precisely because it's my favorite and it being my favorite means that our marriage will now become an awkward, sexless threesome between us and the NBA playoffs. I've probably missed entire books worth of words she's said to me while I was engrossed in a game or the highlights of a game or (her personal favorite) watching the live boxscore of a game that's not being televised. And she now knows that if I'm watching a basketball game and I say there's only "two minutes left," it actually means "well, maybe 22 to 24 minutes…if it doesn't go to overtime."
But overall it's been much less of an issue than I would have expected it to be. In fact, it's even been a positive. She doesn't hate sports, she just doesn't really know much about them, so watching games together — and explaining what the double bonus means or the point of hedging on a screen — has been fun. Also, she has soft eyes. Basically, she doesn't watch much, and not watching much allows her to observe certain things when she does watch that people hyperfocused on the action might miss. Like how the San Antonio Spurs' logo contains an actual spur in it. Or how John Calipari always speaks like he's speaking to 20 million different people at the same time. And she even took "taking one for the team" to a completely different level this year when she surprised me on Valentine's Day with tickets to a Cavs/Heat game.
The real test, however, will be when we have kids. Because there will be a basketball in the crib, our son or daughter will have a flawless follow-through before they learn how to spell their name (just like I did), and we will be attending countless grade school and rec league and AAU and high school basketball games (just like my parents did).
Unless, of course, they decide to take after their mother, which…well, wouldn't be a bad thing either. I've grown to like piccolos too.