Wednesday, December 26, 2018

20 Years Ago Already

TigerBlog hopes everyone had a great Christmas.

Part of his was spent doing his weekly podcast with women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart. Hey, they committed to doing a podcast every Tuesday this year, and every Tuesday means every Tuesday, even if it's Christmas.

Or, as it will be for the next one, New Year's Day.

As for the Christmas version, TigerBlog even got Courtney to sing a little. You can hear it for yourself at the end HERE.

There's something very strange, by the way, about being the only person in Jadwin Gym, as TB was after he finished recording the podcast. He's not sure how many times it's happened in all his years here, but it's happened a few. Each time, it's a bit eerie, how quiet a normally bustling building can get. 

With the end of Christmas, TigerBlog figures there will also be the end of the worst kind of commercials on TV - the ones where Christmas songs are changed with lyrics that instead promote a particular product, one that TB will never use because of how much he objects to the concept.

Today is Dec. 26, 2018. It makes TB think back to Dec. 26, 1998, or 20 years ago today.

That was TB's first day in Hawaii for the 1998 Rainbow Classic, a tournament that the Princeton men's basketball team would win with victories on successive nights over Florida State, Texas and UNC Charlotte. It worked out well for TB, since by winning, Princeton kept playing the night game, which meant that the morning was spent updating game notes and the afternoon was spent on Waikiki Beach.

If you've never been to Hawaii on the week between Christmas and New Year's, well, TB recommends it. In addition to the basketball, one of TB's biggest memories of that week is arriving at the hotel - the Outrigger Waikiki -around midnight after the long, long trip that started at Newark in the middle of the afternoon Eastern time.

TB has told you this story before, he's pretty sure. He's also sure you probably don't remember it.

The team had traveled out a day earlier, and it was just TB and Tom McCarthy, then the radio voice, on a jammed flight from Newark to San Francisco, before a transfer to Honolulu.

The first flight got into San Francisco late, past the time that the connecting flight for Hawaii was leaving. The flight attendants assured TB and McCarthy that the second plane would wait for them, and as it turned out, it did.

Of course that plane was a 747, a full 747 at that. And TB and McCarthy were the only two people on the first flight who got on the second, which at least was at the next gate.

As the two walked down the aisle, to row 52 as TB remembers, the pilot made an announcement thanking everyone for their patience and saying that they were waiting for two people from a flight from Newark. This in turn was greeted with boos and calls to leave them, which is what you might expect from people who were hoping to get to Hawaii as quickly as possible.

TigerBlog tried to walk as quickly as he could to his seat, but Tom just took his time, stopping to wish people happy holidays, apologize for being late and, in the case of one completely bald man, ask him if he shaves his head every day.

Anyway, after that, it was the flight to Hawaii, arriving long after it got dark. And a long shuttle ride to the hotel, which was the last stop of many.

And then it was time to check in. Now, 20 years later, TB can still feel the tropical warmth from the Pacific as it drifted across him when he got out of that shuttle. Then he walked into the lobby of the hotel, checked in and went up to sleep.

When he woke up the next morning, he looked out from the balcony in his room out onto the beach and the ocean. It was certainly beautiful. It was also 8 am on a Sunday, which meant that it was 1 pm Eastern time, which meant it was kickoff time for NFL games. His hotel room TV had the Bears-Packers, on a snowy day. At 8 am in Hawaii.

At least he thinks it was Bears-Packers. Let him check, and he'll be right back. 

So it turns out he was right. Back on Dec. 27, 1998, the Packers beat the Bears 16-13 in Chicago.

Meanwhile, when he went downstairs to the lobby, he saw something that he hadn't realized the night before - it was an open air lobby. The elevator doors opened, and there beyond the lobby was the beach and the Pacific Ocean.

TigerBlog has worked here for a long time and has had way more than his share of great experiences. That week in Hawaii is easily in the top 10.

And it was 20 years ago today.

Actually, he's not sure if that seems like a long time or not. 

1 comment:

George Clark said...

If you recall my son, Miles '96, and I were there for that tournament. We ran into you on the beach that week. What I most remember about that season is that it began with a loss at Lafayette. Chris Young outplayed fellow Texan, Chris Mihm, who had a good NBA career. Great time in Paradise.