Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I don't think a thousand words could do this photo justice.
What happened this weekend was the result of three years of hard work, dedication, and the good fortune of having great friends, folks who care about you, and being in the right place at the right time.
I'll get to the photo of Oscar Robertson in just a moment.
As you all know, the Shock The World Tour has become a staple here at ETSF, and by know most of you know what it means to us as fans. It's the simple process of touching down somewhere new and witnessing a live sporting event with your own eyes. Part of the glory in "Shocking the World" is the process that goes along with it: the travel, being unfamiliar in a new city, and the experience that goes along with it. So when the great Kenny Masenda touched down in the 'Nati on Friday, we already knew that the tomfoolery, the chicanery, the hi-jinks, the shenanigans, the monkey-businesses, and utter debauchery was about to go down.
On Friday, the culmination of three years in the game was celebrated in downtown Cincinnati in the form of happy hour. Shoutout to SLAM Magazine for hooking us up with tons of free copies of the mag. Why? Well, that's what happens when you pen a piece that's located on page 30 of the magazine. So go get you a copy...now. We had the local phenoms The 5chw4r7z's in the house taking photos and sharing war stories, "The Good Doctor" came in and grew her fan club to epic proportions, plus a ton of my close friends, bruhs, and associates came in and made sure that my "libation cup" was filled to the brim. Thanks fellas... *hiccup*
So after recovering from a great Friday night, the man Ken screams and beats his chest and demands some of the finest hamburgers that the city of Cincinnati has to offer. Evidently, the man is a fan of only meat, potatoes, and bread, so we ushered him to the one of the city's popular hamburger eateries (Arthur's, where a 4'11" woman named CiCi tried to hit on me and one of the servers named "Amber" bought our beer...interesting.), then to one of black Cincinnati's treasured landmark's, Ollie's Trolley, where Brother President and the First Lady made sure they stopped by to checkout on their '08 campaign. After that, we ventured over to a personal hole-in-the-wall favorite of mine (J&W BBQ, where they cook the burger for five minutes, then dip it into a hot cauldron of smoky barbecue sauce, put it on bread and serve...delightful).
I don't think Ken ate a vegetable the whole weekend...unless you count green Skittles.
Anyway, the highlight of the weekend was to catch the #15 UConn Huskies and the hometown Cincinnati Bearcats do battle in a key Big East showdown. When we walked into the arena, we were geeked to see the growing legend that has become Kemba Walker. We were looking forward to a raucous crowd getting it in at Fifth Third Arena, and we talked about the past legends that graced the court for the Bearcats when we were kids.
Letdown. Letdown. Letdown.
UConn beat Cincinnati 67-59 on Sunday. I don't know if I should be more pissed at the Huskies for not blowing UC out of the water by at least 20 points or more pissed that the Bearcats basically played the most haphazard brand of basketball I ever saw since watching Sunset Park first play in the movie. I won't get into particulars, but there is something to be said about watching quality basketball.
UConn looked like a team who's been coached well and looks like they have an understanding of how to play the game, play with each other, and play with a sense of purpose. Cincinnati looked like a team who played PS3 into 4am,left the game on pause, hurried up and played a basketball game, then went back to the room to finish the game.
Moreover, the crowd at Fifth Third Arena sounded like they were at a croquet tournament. The fans were lifeless, the band was playing college songs I didn't even know existed, and the atmosphere was just plain dead. (Note: Ken and I came to the conclusion that the UC fan base can create an atmosphere in that arena that's worth a damn, but the coach (sucks) and the players gotta give those people something to cheer about. Otherwise, we were the loudest people at the game by far).
So during the game, Kenny saw an older grey-haired gentlemen walk into the arena, with very little fanfare and commotion.
"Yo Ed...is that Oscar Robertson?"
Yes...yes it was.
Oscar Robertson is known to be courtside for almost every single Bearcats home game, so the non-reaction isn't atypical. The man is a legend of epic proportions. Whike Ken was baffled and mystified simultaneously, I tried to explain the love/hate relationship that the Big O has with UC and the city. Then, at the end of the game, Kemba Walker walks all the way across the court to go shake the man's hand as a sign of respect...and at that moment Kenny had a singular focus on what needed to happen next.
"Dog, we have to go meet the man."
Well damn, Ken...okay then.
So after a lucky roll of the dice and calling in a favor, we were able to get in front of the legend that is Oscar Robertson. First off, let me say this...the man is imposing as all hell. He's all of the six feet, five inches that he's listed as, and he's got a mean disposition and still looks like he could give anyone the blues down low on the block. Anyway, so after shaking the man's hand and introducing ourselves, we walked away...but then we realized we needed to take a photo with him to commemorate the moment.
What happened next was totally unexpected, yet one of the greatest moments in life, literally right before we were about to say something to the man, an even older gentlemen wanted to show Oscar a book that was written about him. The book was an unauthorized publication about Oscar, one that Oscar never signed off on, so Oscar put this even older man in his place and told him what's what. He wasn't rude about it, but he was stern in his feelings on the book; he didn't like it. So following up from behind that are these two bumbling neanderthals who just wanted to meet the man, the myth, the legend.
What culminated was what the old folks would call, "shooting the shit." Man, we started chopping it up with him about the game...the Big O talked bad about the players, talked bad about the coaches, and how young kids act like they know everything. It wasn't something that I would take as negative, but more of the flat-out truth. I remembered Kemba coming by and speaking to him, and asked him do the Bearcats players ever reached to him.
"Nope. You know kids...they act like they know everything."
Kenny made an excellent point, in that if he were a young hooper and had access to such a legend that he would literally go and find the Big O everyday asking for his advice, and even if he kept telling him "no" that he'd just have to keep telling him no everyday until he did. Its appalling to know that the players, the coaches, and such don't leverage the knowledge that Oscar Robertson has. Yeah, I know some will say that Oscar's a grouch and that he's a mean cuss and isn't the most open-minded person in the world...but he's an old man, that's what old people do!
We went up to the man, looked him in the eyes, introduced ourselves and were respectful with him the entire time. We had no agenda, we had nothing to gain, we just wanted to meet the legend that the old men in our families preached the gospel about when we were young neophytes in the game. I think that Oscar respected us for that and treated us as such.
Moral of the story...take heed of the wisdom that old men can provide. They've been in this rodeo once or twice before and might know a thing or two. Meeting the Big O, Oscar Robertson, and chopping it up with him is the reason why should go out and Shock The World.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!