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800: milestones and memories

- An important event, as in a person's career, the history of a nation, or the advancement of knowledge in a field; a turning point.

- The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience.

Definitions courtesy of The Free Dictionary.

When the time came to do this post, excitement and anticipation ran through my head, and I imagine it ran through Ed's as well. We knew over the weekend that the time would come where the responsibility would fall on one of us to tell a story about this milestone. How it would be done would pretty much be left to whoever had to write it, which in this case, ended up being me.

However, as the day came, and Ed took to Twitter to let the masses know that 800 would be coming and that it would be on me to sum it up, my mind drew a blank. I had nothing. It was strange, and in a way, maddening. How can one be a part of something for years, have hundreds of conversations, even more debates, and come up with nothing?

After taking a nap and turning on my Isley Brothers Inspirational Tape, the wheels started turning. Granted, they didn't begin turning until after 3 in the morning, but they did turn, and in the words of The Great Willie Beamen, "Once I turn it on, I'm gone."

Milestone: the Dallas Mavericks winning their first NBA Championship

As a fan, this is easily my favorite event of 2011, and arguably the best sports event of my life. It's impossible to truly understand how this feels, unless you have lived in this city and have been connected to the Mavericks for years. June 12, 2011 capped off an amazing journey. The night the Mavs won, I was downtown celebrating with friends I've known for years, as well as with strangers I'd known for two minutes.

From the American Airlines Arena, to Club Liv, to the players returning to Love Field, to the parade in downtown. It was so authentic, so organic, and so unbridled, that it couldn't be scripted. Someone once said "There's nothing like your first time," and being able to be a witness to this event is even more evidence that the statement rings true.

The title did so many things for so many people. It's icing on the cake for the career of Jason Kidd. It forced naysayers of the Mark Cuban Approach to eat their words. It also allowed Dirk Nowitzki to live a little bit, for people to finally get off the man's case, and give him the respect he earned long ago, but unfortunately for some, takes a title for people to give.

Memory: Robinson Cano wins the home run derby with his old man pitching to him

This happened last night, but it may as well have been a flashback for any son that grew up with a father who would take us outside to play catch, shoot hoops, or engage in any other activity where time is spent between two males: one young, dumb, and impressionable, and the other old, miserly, and being around long enough to have seen it all.

Seeing Jose Cano pitch to his son added a layer to the Home Run Derby that lacks in just about any other All Star Showcase in any other sport. You don't see former pros throwing alley-oops to their sons in the slam dunk contest, right? As great as it was seeing David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, and the other big-time home run hitters in the game today, the Canos were the highlight of the entire event, and when Robinson Cano hit his final homer to seal the victory and was showered by his boys, his final embrace was saved for his old man.

It's just like when we were all younger and we won a big game back in the day. We would be excited, and all in the moment. Our dads would stand in the background while we celebrated and acted a donkey with our friends, and as sure as can be, we'd find our dad, give him a hug, and say "Thank you." The memories from this event are less than a few hours old, but one thing that is for sure is that they will last forever.

Milestone: Phil Jackson charges it to the game

Phil Jackson is arguably the best basketball coach of all-time, unquestionably the best coach at managing egos in modern basketball history, and one of the greatest men who ever lived. He's also a man who finds a way to keep fans conflicted; well, that's if you have a love-hate relationship with him and his teams.

Phil Jackson is loved on ETSF, but he's coached two teams to championships where love is far from the word of choice: the 90s Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. Ed's feelings on the Bulls are well-documented, while our feelings for the Lakers are as well. However, the one constant that really never gets disputed is our appreciation for Phil Jackson.

Now that he's riding off into the sunset, there's no one else in the game that commands the respect of everyone in the room, has the presence, or the juice that he does. Of course, the NBA will survive, but much like when Jordan left, it certainly won't be the same, and he will be the measuring stick for anyone who is on the sidelines and takes a stab at any type of coaching success.

Memory: Ed's 48 hours of hell

It started with an innocent phone call, continued with consternation, humiliation, and degradation, and ended with relief and an abundance of laughs. See, memories can be what you want them to be, and in the case of Ed, this memory is an awful one.

Last week, someone got access to the G-14 classified info that comprises Ed's Twitter account, and proceeded to do damage that was worse than anything folks have seen in quite some time. The folks who ride with Ed came to the man's defense and did everything possible to help exterminate whoever infiltrated his account.

There were some people blocked him until access was regained, and for folks who saw the absurdity that came from his account during that time, it's hard to blame them. Others prayed for his account. The feelings of helplessness were reminiscent of when Rubin Carter was sent to the hole for 90 days during The Hurricane. Ed was in disbelief at first, then worried, then angry, and it got to the point where, like The Hurricane, he just had to ride it out.

Some said it stemmed from Ed sleeping with the perpetrator's mother, sister, or wife. There's no telling what he did, but I can honestly say it was pretty concerning seeing everything play out in the middle of last week. Like The Hurricane, Ed maintained his innocence the entire time, and just as Carter was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, so was Ed. His account was regained, and Ed signaled his return by playing this song real, real loud. All I know is it makes for some good war stories and it provides quite the memory.

Milestones and memories help fans pay homage, stay in the moment, and remember where we once were. With any post you see on this site, the goal is to provoke thought, and from that thought, encourage conversation. Outside of the number of posts, there's not really a stat that shows if you're actually any good at it, and, to an extent, the same can be said for the sports we, as fans, watch.

Sure, a player can rush for 1,000 yards, and one can rattle off 1,000-yard backs until their head explodes, but does it truly matter? People can name players who hit .300, but what does it really mean? 37 NBA players have scored over 20,000 points in their careers, but without proper context, it's a stat that can be used for evil and deceit.

That's why as great as numbers can be, one has to be able to tell a story behind the numbers. It's on the ones who pick up a pen to write, hold up a camera to take a picture, or a recorder to record to tell a story that makes people want to care. We stick to what we believe in, and while reaching this numerical milestone is a great feeling, being able to tell a story behind the number is what makes this all worthwhile.

Be easy.
-K. Masenda


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