Should I wear it or not?
I thought about it. And I decided to wear it.
I mean, when else are you going to have an Albany Patroons championship game in your home arena? Do you not wear a sports jersey when you go to a stadium?
Then again, I do work in a white collar office during the day. So the jersey – a Xavier Moon #4 road jersey from 2018 – is carefully hidden under a green cotton long-sleeve business shirt.
Yeah, I’m ready for tonight.
I even broke out my jewelry for this match – my high school ring, which I only wear on extra-special occasions, along with the 2014 Windsor Express championship ring from the NBL Canada – and I’m ready to go.
Dang … four more rings and I can snap half the universe out of existence.
I took a quick glance over to Facebook to see what was going on in the world.
And in Facebook’s “Memories” category … oh look, one year ago this day I stepped into place for the Patroons.
We were in the middle of a three-game series against the Ohio Bootleggers, a squad that joined the league after the previous team, the Ohio Cardinals, folded in mid-season. Now after you’ve announced both teams, the teams stand on the court and wait for the national anthem singer.
But this was Game 3, a last-minute contest – and no anthem singer had been scheduled.
We have a back-up plan – there’s a CD of Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem from the Super Bowl – but it wasn’t in the CD tray.
And there’s a fan who always wants to sing the National Anthem – but charitably, his performance sounds as if it was influenced by Francis Scott Off Key.
I was the PA announcer for the game, and I saw him arriving toward the scorer’s table.
Think fast, Miller.
Just before he arrived at the scorer’s table … I took the court and sang the damn anthem myself.
In other words … you do what you must at the moment it’s needed. And we won that game and went on to the championship.
This has been a Patroons basketball season unlike any other season I’ve ever experienced. The rosters changed on a regular basis – we lost our 2018 MVP to a league in Puerto Rico, and we replaced him with a super-scoring rookie who was playing for another team as a last-second replacement signing. Wow.
We won games in 50+ point blowouts, and we lost double-overtime heartbreakers.
We almost missed the playoffs, save a last-second victory over Jamestown to clinch a spot.
We almost missed the finals, but a close victory over the Raleigh Firebirds got us back to the Championship round.
And although the first game was a 35+ mugging by the Yakima Sun Kings – a team that has had our number the way the Yankees had the Red Sox’ number for decades – we held on and we persevered, with an overtime win in Game 2. That forced a Game 3, to be played in the Armory.
To be played this Friday night.
And I had a choice. I had already scheduled a Date Night … for that very Friday.
Meanwhile, my Internet broadcast partner, John Longton, had to cancel his appearance at the Two Buttons Deep booze cruise to prepare for Friday night’s game. He gave up his booze cruise and I gave up date night.
You do understand there is this thing called priorities, right?
The TBL trophy is in the building. It’s a glass basketball fixed upon a pedestal.
This the trophy of supremacy in the TBL.
Everybody’s getting ready for the game. Tickets are a hot commodity, and there’s a decent line of walk-up to the arena box office.
Meanwhile, I met with my Internet broadcast partner, John Longton. This would be our last game of the season, and win or lose, I knew he wanted to use tonight’s broadcast as a future aircheck for a possible job with ESPN.
“Here,” I said, handing him a stack of paper.
“These are the game notes for tonight. I got information from the Sun Kings front office as well as stuff I pulled. This will make your broadcast sound so much better, and if it helps you get that ESPN job, then that’s all the best.”
Thanks, a fist bump, and we were ready.
For me, it’s not just how the Patroons do on the court. Everybody – from the coaching staff to the broadcast team, from the stat crew to the hot dog vendors – we all have a job to perform, we all have to provide a great experience for ticketholders and for viewers. This is part of that experience.
Now it’s time for the game.
It’s a back and forth affair, and at one point in the third quarter the Yakima Sun Kings have clawed out a six-point lead and things were going their way.
Then Joshua Cameron got the ball, and with 6:30 to go in the third, he hit a 3-pointer – got fouled in the act of shooting – and then drained the bonus shot. He then hit two more 3-pointers, and just like that the Patroons took the lead – and never looked back.
Meanwhile, Shadell Millinghaus rang up 37 points in 48 minutes – he never went to the bench, not in game 3, not in game 2. And when the Patroons finished the game 124-112 – the Armory erupted in cheers and celebration.
Ladies and gentlemen … your 2019 TBL Basketball Champions, YOUR ALBANY PATROONS!!!
And your MVP of the series – Shadell Millinghaus, who wasn’t a member of the Patroons roster on opening day, who was signed as a replacement player to fill out a visiting New York Court Kings roster, was signed by the Patroons afterward, and just lit up the roster like a Roman candle afterward.
This is amazing. An amazing, amazing feeling. Thirty years ago, Bill Musselman and his band of win-or-go-home Patroons took the CBA championship in seven games, winning Game 7 on the Armory floor in front of a packed building and a nationwide ESPN broadcast. Thirty-five years ago, Phil Jackson coached the Patroons to a five-game triumph and a 1984 CBA championship. Derrick Rowland, Albany’s current head coach, played on both those squads.
And now he has a Patroons coaching championship ring as well.
Oh my God it was bedlam in the Armory. Hugs. Cheers. The players cut down the basketball nets. Every moment was a celebration.
You know that rule about how you should never hold a championship trophy unless you’ve won it?
Well, the Patroons won this trophy.
And yes, I still had that Xavier Moon road jersey from last season tucked in nicely under my cotton long-sleeve button-down. 😀
Oh man this feels fantastic. The Patroons are now three-time – three-time – say it with me – THREE TIME BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS!!
Who really knows what tomorrow brings?
I don’t. But I do know what tonight brings, as I put my rings back in their ring-boxes, pack my jersey with my other Patroons throwbacks, and finish off this little blog post.
This is freakin’ awesome.
Say it with me, blog readers.
Chuck is happy.