Sports

Eulogy for Lorenzo Charles

I kept my feet on the peddle steadily as I entered the interstate, rushing to work and I hoped, with nearly 20 minutes to spare before the office meeting starts, to not get delayed on this often treacherous and chronically under-construction highway again. Then I saw what I always dread: the electronic board announcing delays ahead. It is a routine – I always curse then immediately follow it with regret for my cussing because I know someone usually gets hurt or, sometimes, dies in these accidents. Knowing that it will take me at least another good half  an hour to reach work, I called my friend and colleague to tell him that I’ll be late since I’m sitting at a parking lot on the highway so he’ll pass it on during the meeting.

After nearly thirty minute sitting in my car I reach the site of the accident with a combination of selfish relief that I’ll finally pass this jam and the realization of seeing the result of the accident: a turned over commercial bus. I see there are no people bleeding sitting by the road or any corpse or body parts scattered around, which means it is not serious. Like the 21st century voyeur we’ve all become, I pull out my cellphone and snap couple of pictures; for what reason, I don’t know. I give no second thought to the actual accident as the site is no longer a human tragedy to me my hurried mind but just an “interesting” sight on my way to work. But here lies the body of Lorenzo Charles, the man behind the greatest bucket of college basketball. But at the time I didn’t who was the victim of tragic accident; only did I find out later when I got to work while browsing through Google News as I usually do when I settle down at work. As an alumni of the school that he led to the NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship in 1983 with his heroic grab of the ball in midair with 2 seconds left in the game with NC State down by 1 point and dunking it to seal the championship for the heavily underdog NC State Wolfpack against a Houston team that posted future NBA champions and hall of famers like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Around campus, Charles was a legend and his spectacular, last-second dunk poster plastered all over the walls in countless buildings and fraternity houses.

It is a sad day for the Wolfpack Nation. RIP Lorenzo!

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUCe62Rh8FI]

Categories: Sports | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Believe in the Turks

I’ve been following Euro 2008 like the rest of the world except where I happen to live. I just finished watching the quarter final game between Turkey and Croatia. I’m still gasping for air after fifteen minutes. Croatia scores in the 118th minute out of possible 120 minutes of regulation and two 15-minute extra time. Croatia is beyond exuberant: coaches, staff, and players are hugging, jumping up and down, kissing – going absolutely crazy. The Turkish players are disheartened but not out. The Croatian players come back to the field just to knock around one more minute while imagining the taste of the champagne in the locker-room because they know they are moving to the semi-finals against Germany.

But the Turkish players had other ideas of their own – like tying the score in the next 1 minute and 30 seconds. Of course this seems impossible to the rest of those watching the game. The broadcaster starts to praise the Turkish players for their valiant efforts, overcoming the loss of their main goalkeeper in the last game, and the crushing loss of their superb Captain less than 10 minutes earlier to injury. It all seemed certain that the brave Turkish team was headed back to Istanbul, coming so close to reaching the semi-finals.

I don’t know what you would call what happened in the last 30 seconds of the game but one would have to consider the word ‘miracle’ and its definition in the dictionary. Perhaps feeling assured and too happy to pay attention, the Croatian defense utterly collapses, allowing The Turks to take one last desperate, almost hopeless chance and shot – Boom! Completing three for three come-from-behind victories. In the penalty kicks, the dynamics of the game was once-again in favor for the Turks – the Croatian team was devastatingly broken down, after we-can-reach-the-sky moments of 2 minutes earlier. From an extreme high to an extreme low in the space of 2 minutes, it took its toll on the Croatian team.

On the other end, the Turkish team was on top of the football universe, despite knowing that if they go to the quarter finals they will not have 4 of its starters including its captain plus their main goalkeeper. But they had momentum, six thousand kilowatts of energy, and the endless possibilities…

Turkey goes three-for-three on the penalty kicks while their goalkeeper saves Croatia’s last desperate penalty shot. How did they do it? Perhaps pure luck, determination, and persistence. Perhaps not. Regardless of how the Turks did it, no screen writer could even have come close to imagining the ending of this game. Yet it happened in real life. Believe in the Turks, I’d say. 

Categories: Sports | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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