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My NBA Bond with My Father

Millie Jefferson

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Millie Jefferson and her dad, basketball fanatics
(Jelani Ferguson)
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Tomorrow, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics face off in game five of the NBA Finals. Boston is up three-to-one in the series, and they have a chance to close it out tomorrow at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. With a Lakers-Celtics game Sunday, plenty of dads can't believe their good fortune to have a great basketball game to watch on Father's Day.

Weekend America producer Millie Jefferson and her dad are big Lakers fans. But they're not looking forward to what could be the last game of the finals. In fact for them, finals time is a big downer.


As I watched game one of the NBA Finals, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. I couldn't help thinking about the beginning of the end... of basketball season.

Each year, I wait for basketball season like a kid waits for Christmas. It's my happy time. But its not just my happy time, it's also my dad's.

"Basketball is great because a good game can put me in a good mood," my dad says one day during a game where the Denver Nuggets score 150 points on their opponent.

We didn't always share our happy time. We butted heads often while I was growing up. Our disagreements started in junior high, continued in college and lasted until I got laid off from my dot-com job and moved back home. The two of us were home together, trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. And basketball season arrived just in time, like a fairy godmother before the ball.

My dad and I start getting ready for basketball season in August. We monitor the behind-the-scenes action, watch for player trades and personnel changes. And since my dad doesn't use the Internet, when I get some scoop I have to fax him.

Finally, the season starts in late October right around my birthday. And every year, without fail, my dad gives me the best present a girl could get: no, not tickets to the game -- all diehards know the best seat in the house is on your own couch. It's NBA League Pass, which is a package of cable channels that allows you to watch up to 40 games per week.

My dad thinks it's the best because "it gives you something to do every day for 89 days during the regular basketball season." With up to 12 games a night, it's easy to get overwhelmed if you don't have a strategy.

"You have to switch around a lot," my dad says. "First, you check to see which games are close in score and you monitor those first. Then you can check back on the ones where the score seems out of reach."

I have my own strategy, too: I TiVo the game I think will be the best to watch later, and switch around looking at the others. I also usually have a game playing on the laptop and one on the desktop.

During basketball season, nothing else really matters -- and everyone in the family knows that.

"When basketball is on, nothing else matters," my mom says. "You can watch only basketball and no other programming until all the basketball is finished." And every single night during basketball season, I call my dad and we debrief.

I can't wait to call my dad after the games. I find it necessary to talk about the games at the end of the night or I don't sleep well. And sometimes we'll even call each other right after an amazing play or bogus call. Needless to say, I have a great long distance plan.

And what do we do when basketball is over, like it will be next weekend? I have no idea. I posed the question to my dad. His answer was simple:
"Suffer, that's what we do," he said.

All I could think was: I feel ya, dad. The thing is, we know our behavior borders on crazy. But we don't care. My boyfriend can't believe it when I'm screaming at the TV, and it seems like my mom spends most of the season alone in the bedroom.

But none of that matters to me because -- don't tell my dad -- this isn't really about basketball. This is the way my dad and I hang out, even when we're not together. No matter our mood, or how many bad decisions I make, I know he's watching. If something outrageous happens he knows the phone will ring within seconds, and I know he'll answer.

So as the finals progress, and even if my teams wins, I'll be a little sad. Basketball will be over, summer will start and we'll go back to trying to keep ourselves busy.

I will miss my dad -- but only for a few months.

Comments

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  • By Lloyd Ferguson

    From los angeles, CA, 03/04/2009

    A great story and I enjoyed reading it very much. See you soon.

    By Fred Abernathy

    From Chicago, IL, 07/24/2008

    WOW that is really all I can say. I hope me and my daughters have half of that.....

    By JoAnne JonesBurnley

    From Palmdale, CA, 07/08/2008

    Beautiful story... what an inspiring way to stay connected with the ones you love. And please don't compare the NBA to the WWE. NBA produces and displays real athletes unlike the stage performances of Vince McMahon's circus act.

    By Greg (Chan-wook) Diggs-Yang

    06/16/2008

    Wonderful story. In a world where parents and children have lost touch with each other because of some much technology, it is nice to see ones who have grown closer because of it. Go Tivo, Go TV, Go Fax machines.

    By James Naismith

    06/15/2008

    What a great article! I also had NBA League Pass this season and the roommate and I hardly missed a game. That's a great story about you and your father, I really enjoyed it. Keep up your writing. To the commenter above, the only thing bogus and bland is your commentary on the NBA. Try watching one of these NBA finals games and then come back to say nobody tries "till the last 90 seconds."

    By Ryan Asher

    From washington, DC, 06/14/2008

    A nice story and I understand it is about a father-daughter bond, but over the NBA? C'mon now. I love sports and watch almost anything, but the NBA is only a shade different than the WWE. The players clearly don't care or try until the last ninety seconds of the game. College basketball is still enjoybable to watch, but the NBA is bland, boring, and bogus.

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