Archive | April 2014

Blog: On Boston, Perseverance and Never Yielding To Defeat

I remember waking up a year ago somewhat late in the morning (I’m talking around 9ish), and checking my phone. It was the usual — Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Then I remembered, I had to send my stepmom a text.

“Good luck today!” is all I believe it said.

She was running in the Boston Marathon. My dad was there for moral support. Things had been going well, I recall from the racetracker. She was racing strong, and as it turned out, she earned a really good time.

Then about 15 minutes later, things quickly changed.

As I was playing MLB The Show, I remember receiving a text from my dad.

“There’s something big going on right here,” he said.

My dad had always been a jokester. He was more sarcastic than serious, most of the time. I believe I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, a marathon.”

A couple minutes later: “No, a couple explosions. I think they may have come from the subway. Trying to find Brenda now.”

I immediately turned on CNN (ESPN had not started covering the explosions yet) and began texting my dad with any updates I could get. More of a coincidence, he found my stepmom. Everything around Boston had already been shut down and it was time for them to get back to the hotel — better run the five miles there.

In the mean time, everybody was trying to call them, including myself to make sure they were OK. The media reports and Twitter made things worse because of the uncertainty surrounding the events.

Then my boss called. “Greg, you need to come into the office, there were some bombs at the Boston Marathon.”

You don’t think I know that? I’m freaking out over here. I thought about telling him “Forget it.”

“OK,” I think were my only words.

I headed into work and began researching any local runners who were competing and came up with a list of about 15. I couldn’t focus at all, to be honest.

Finally after about an hour after my dad’s second text I got a phone call. They were OK and back at the hotel. The phone signals had reportedly been poor, and they were using the navigation on their phones (data worked for some reason?) and wanted to get to safety first.


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The next couple weeks were more retributive. The heinous people had been killed and captured. There was a sense of accomplishment from that.

Time continued to pass. The way my dad coped with it was under the theory that “tragedy breeds comedy.” He and I routinely made awful jokes about it. I knew it make him feel better.

My stepmom took it much harder. I think it was because she always felt safe running. To be fair, runners are the absolute nicest people in the world. How could somebody do that to the running community? There was a quiet intensity that was burning inside of her, I could see it.

She was going to run that race April 21, 2014, and nobody could stop her. Not even a set of broken ankles would have slowed her down.

The months went by and it only got stronger. Though she was a transplant from Wisconsin living in Illinois, she was the embodiment of “Boston Strong.”

Finally, today, it was race day. I wished her good luck again, today. She flew by the first half of the race but started having some stomach issues in the latter half. Regardless, she still put up a great time.

She needed a day like that.

Boston needed a day like that.

You and I needed a day like that.

I can only speak for my close family, but you see, it seems that each of us had an incredible amount of adversity to deal with this past year. I think we can draw inspiration from April 21, 2014.

There’s something to be said about the perseverance of people like my stepmom who were not going to let last year’s events dictate today. In fact, it only made her stronger. Same with the other thousands of runners who participated.

It’s almost as if to say, “You destroyed us last year. You destroyed me. But I’m going to do all I know how to do — put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You can’t beat me.”

I’m better than you.

And Boston proved that it was better than the terrorist acts of two individuals and they did it simply by running — one of the most pacifist acts you can do. How incredible is that? That’s something we can embrace and admire.

Like the rhythmic steps, continuous in their motion, we need to remember that: “You can’t beat me. I’m better than you.”


Blog: Why Keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee Means the World to Me

When I saw on Twitter on Wednesday that the Milwaukee Bucks had been sold, my heart sunk a little bit.

I had been a fan of the team my entire life, but a sale by Senator Herb Kohl was inevitable as he continued to age. The rumors had been floating around for months, even years; when, not will, the team get moved to Seattle?

And although I knew Herb Kohl said many times that he would only sell to somebody who would keep the team in the state he represented for 24 years, those who purchased the team had the say when they took over.

So forgive me for recalling dozens of fond memories at the Bradley Center.

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I grew up in Gurnee, Ill., a suburb of Chicago right off of I-94. Our interstate access allowed us to easily take a one-hour trip down to Chicago if we ever wanted to. But it was also just an hour north to get to Milwaukee. It’s because of the proximity to these major cities that in the 1970’s, Six Flags opened a theme park there.

But I grew up in the 90s – when the greatest player of the era played for the team to the south – how on earth did I grow up a fan of a team that has seemingly been stuck in basketball purgatory all my life?

Well I wish I could say otherwise, but I don’t recall going to my fist Bucks game. It’s my understanding that I was still a baby. But what I can remember is that at a very young age, I fell in love with the game of basketball. Get the ball through a hoop: it was a simple yet complex game.

I soaked the game up like a sponge. I wanted to learn about it as much as I could, and my parents obliged. But at that time, money was very tight, and Bulls tickets were an arm and a leg for nosebleed seats. Luckily, Milwaukee afforded a much cheaper opportunity.

Roughly once a year – sometimes twice if it was a good year – we’d make our trips up there. I remember my first jersey was a purple Todd Day jersey that I wore each time with such pride. There was the time that we went with my dad’s co-worker, who had seats right behind the basket. There was another time we sat on the upper level, and two random people we chatted up had a pair of extra tickets and offered us to move to the lower level. It seemed like every trip we made up there as a youngin’ got better and better.

The height of the excitement game right at the turn of the century with a Big Three of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Casell. The team would eventually go on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals (with controversy) to the Philadelphia 76ers. But you had better believe not a day went by that year that I wasn’t consumed with the team. May I remind you that this was in the era of dial-up internet so there was no streaming or Gametracker. It got to the point that I would turn on ESPN and just stare at the bottom line waiting for the score to flash by. Most days, the rather poor radio in my room would pick up 620 WTMJ and I could listen to Ted Davis announce the games. I loved it.

Milwaukee started to become progressively worse. First, Ray Allen was traded away midway through the 2003 season. Then that following offseason, Cassell and Robinson were also dealt. Gary Payton left as a free agent and the team only had budding star Michael Redd to rely on.

He was enough for me and my dad to keep going to games. A couple years later, my dad requested the game that we go to. He wanted to see Phoenix and Steve Nash play live. OK, I can’t say no to that.

Nash didn’t disappoint, either. He had 23 points and seven assists that night. But I won’t be forgetting what else happened that night. My Bucks absolutely rolled past one of the NBA’s best teams using a barrage of 3’s. Redd was 6-for-11 from distance, Charlie Bell was 5-of-8. But in the 46-point third quarter, the show belonged to Toni Kukoc. The Croation Sensation was absolute money and was hitting shots he had absolutely no business hitting. It was a stellar night neither I nor my dad have since forgotten.

Unfortunately through high school and college, the number of games quickly dropped. And since moving down to Florida, I haven’t been to the Bradley Center. I watch as many games as I can but it’s just not the same as being there with my dad.

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Not too long after I saw the Tweet of the Bucks sale, somebody else mentioned that a condition of the sale was that the team would stay in Milwaukee. Yeah right, I thought.

Then shortly into the press conference that introduced Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, I saw the news that absolutely thrilled me. Not only would these two investment bankers invest $100 million into a new arena, Kohl was going to do the same. Yep, $200 million towards a new arena – nearly half the expected price for a new home. My Bucks would not leave Milwaukee anytime soon.

I can’t wait until the new arena is built – I only hope it has the beautiful Robert Indiana-inspired court at the BMOHBC now. Whatever it takes, I’ll find a way to go to a game there that first year. And of course, I’m going to take my dad and buy him a beer, hopefully with another memory to make.

I only hope that one day, and I’m positive I will, to take my own kids there and have them experience the same magic I was able to.

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