How to throw a birthday party in a basketball style

How to throw a birthday party in a basketball style


How to throw a birthday party in a basketball style


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I have one weakness – celebrating my birthdays, gathering friends and having fun together. When a friend says that he/she doesn’t want / can’t / has no idea how to celebrate this day, I get very sad at heart. I don’t know if one kitten dies at this moment somewhere (I hope not because I love cats, I have 2), but I don’t understand this approach.

Anyway, this year I invited my closest people to visit me again to celebrate my birthday, but I had another idea in my head – this is often the case with people who are not too self-disciplined (like me) and like to fantasize. Probably, it’s not very good, though like the Scorpions’ song says, “…the world would be cold without dreamers like you,” so maybe I’m not quite lost for this society.

I was thinking about something else again, namely coolers with speakers, and got distracted. So, there was a fantasy about what if I could invite any 11 celebrities to my birthday party? This thought became stronger in my mind with frightening speed, and after  about 3 minutes I found myself making up a list of these most imaginative “guests.”

Below are, actually, the people I would like to be at the same table at least once in my life, on my birthday. Since I’m a big fan of basketball, the people will only be from the basketball world (if anyone is interested in the version of my guest line-up made up of people from all walks of life, I also have such a list; in fact, I probably even have too many guest lists of people that will never come to my place).

So, a table for 12, including myself:

Steve Nash

Hell yeah! Of course. First of all, I would have called Steve Nash, the greatest wizard of my basketball youth. I don’t care what color jersey he wears on courts at times, it would be a crime to miss a conversation with him. Once, a few years ago, he was tweeting evening answers to fans’ questions, and I found out that despite his cosmopolitan nature, he had never been to my city. I could easily organize a tour of the city’s main tourist attractions, and then, having climbed the top of the highest point in the city, ask him why Phoenix never had a chance to win the championship. Perhaps, he will say something different from “well, somehow we were unlucky, injuries, Tim Duncan, and all that.” I think many people would love to hear that.

Arvydas Sabonis

The reason is very simple – the legend and scale of the personality which breaks any “legendmeters” and “scalemeters.”

“Turn on your TV at least once when Kaunas Zalgiris or the national team is playing, and after that, you will definitely be looking to meet Arvydas Sabonis who plays basketball.” People were talking this since the mid-’80s, but meetings with Sabonis are still being sought by many, and I am no exception.

In my early childhood, I wasn’t much into the NBA games, but I remember Sunday Sport’s article (late December 2003) which stated that Arvydas Sabonis became the most valuable player in the Euroleague group stage. I felt uncomfortable because I immediately remembered my dad’s stories about how he loved watching Zalgiris play when he was in high school, always supporting the Lithuanians because they had the “ginger ball-handler with a beautiful last name”, Rimas Kurtinaitis and already legendary Arvydas Sabonis. I thought, “Is this the same Sabonis that my dad saw when he was still at school?! How is this possible?!” It turned out to be true. Honestly, then, for the first time in my life, I was worried about my jaw because for a second I thought I saw it hanging somewhere close to my chest.

By the way, Sabonis’s magic was so strong that when dad first saw my green Boston Ray Allen’s jersey, he was glad at first, thinking that I also began to support “Zalgiris.” Then he understood his mistake and said, with a bit of sadness, his signature phrase, “Well, then go and watch some black dudes play against other black dudes.”

The thing is that to me Arvidas Sabonis always seemed like a basketball demigod. That is, I knew that the greatest player in history was Michael Jordan (I watched “Space Jam”), but, despite his undeniable steepness, he was, at least, a real person, while Sabonis was more like a comic-book character or a guy from Francois Rabelle’s stories than a basketball player. It was only then that I carefully studied his career, falling, sometimes, into uncontrollable sadness, thinking he was unable to realize his full potential. However, he himself once said quite specifically and, perhaps, quite rightly about the unrealized potential.

“As for winning the NBA championship … You journalists want Sabonis to get this more than I do (laughs). All my fantasies to win something are in the past. Now let the young people strive for something, get in the NBA. I’ve had and played enough. I would have had to stop once anyway.

Is there anyone in the world cooler than Arvydas Sabonis?

Paul Westphal

Every birthday has to have its own Paul Westphall. An honored and intelligent man, legendary player and coach that you can always ask, “Paul, what the hell? How did you lose 3 home games in the finals with Chicago? Seriously, did you even say anything to them before those games? Why were they looking so bad, as if they were unloading trucks with slurry bags all night long? Those were great Finals, Paul, but I’m very disappointed. At the time of the Finals, I was two years old, but even then I was probably very disappointed.

Of course, it’s not all about Westphal, but for some reason, for me, he has long been the symbol of the main Suns’ failures in their glorious but sad history. Only two Finals for almost half a century of existence and both directly involved Paul Westphal – in 1976, as a player, in 1993, as a head coach. I’m thinking now: maybe Sarver should invite him to some nominal position in the team? Like, there’s a some-basketball-players relation director position for sure. Of course, there will be no championship, but the Finals and a triple-overtime contest are guaranteed. We know that Westphall doesn’t dish out any unfounded guarantees left and right.

Bill Simmons

And here’s Bill Simmons, by the way. I couldn’t help but include a sports journalist specializing in basketball. All I had to do was choose between Bill Simmons and Jack McCallum, but then I realized that without Simmons’ hilarious (bile-diluted) jokes, a festive dinner wouldn’t be quite successful.

Simmons was undoubtedly one of those journalists who had really been kissed by God. He has all the qualities necessary for the people of his profession – he is always aware, relevant, but, most importantly, he always has a lot of new (and often brilliant) ideas. He is not ashamed of his passions, conversely, he cultivates them in almost every report. Everybody knows that he is a Celtics fan, but somehow, constantly emphasizing it, he has made it his dignity. It seems like why in the hell would a Lakers or New York fan read a story about how the guy went to the Boston games with his father or how he tried to instill true basketball values in his daughter? They do, however, read passionately about it.

Bill Simmons called his first ESPN article “Is Roy Clemens really the Antichrist?” It seems to me that it is possible to call Simmons himself the Antichrist because you just can’t write that much and that interesting without first making a deal with the devil. I’ll have to ask him, he might tell me. By the way, what’s his favorite drink?

Jerry Colangelo

I have long been a strong supporter of the Phoenix Suns. Jerry Colangelo was their general manager for nearly 40 years, at some point becoming the owner. In my opinion, the reason for my desire to call him for my birthday is more than obvious. The main thing is to try to avoid the questions about the first decades of the Suns’ history, and especially about the birth of the team because it will be difficult to stop, and the rest of the guests will start to feel uncomfortable and begin to diverge.

But if you suddenly have any questions about Phoenix Suns, it is best to address them to Jerry Colangelo. He knows everything. It was him who, in 1968, got in the newly formed team with his wife and 3 kids, having $300 in his pocket; it was him who very soon lost the coin toss which could have resulted in the Phoenix Suns with Karim aboard; it was him who raised the team from its knees at the earliest time possible, when a drug scandal could destroy it in the mid-’80s; it was him that had been keeping Sans in a competitive state for over 40 years.

It will be very disappointing if he never sees how the Phoenix Suns win the NBA championship.

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