Bittersweet- pleasant, marked with feelings of pain or regret.
Bittersweet is an often used term by those who generally don’t actually know what it means. I often hear people say “that movie was bittersweet” or “awww that was a bittersweet moment.” Give me a break.
The NBA lockout was a very long and grueling process for players, owners, and especially fans. The lockout lasted 160 long days without any basketball. For a basketball junkie like myself, this would be a moment of suffering for me (bitter). Followed by the end of the lockout and return of basketball on December 8, 2011 with the regular season started on the joyous Holiday of all, Christmas (sweet).
Now that you all have listened to me ramble on about pointless information, lets cut to the chase and the true meaning of this story.
As a “true” Miami Heat fan, it has always been a great challenge to try and get their attention during warmups and get their autograph. (and by true I mean have stuck with them from the days of Mourning, Hardaway, Mashburn, Majerle and PJ Brown, through the thick and thin of a 15-67 season in 07-08 with the likes of Blake Ahearn, Ricky Davis, Alexander Johnson, and no DWade, all the way to now with the likes of the BIG 3). With that being said, whenever the Heat are in Milwaukee, I am there front and center.
It is every fans dream is to get an autograph from their favorite player and have the chance just to see them in person. As I observed player warmups before the February 1st and 13th match ups between the Heat and Bucks, I noticed the swarms of little kids screaming out their role models names in hopes of just getting their names scribbled down on a picture. The games I have been to before, the players mostly only sign an autograph or two or none at all while blowing everyone else off. Which I will admit, I have seen a kid or two cry, including I, myself being one of those kids when I was growing up.
This time was different. This time, I was surprised and star struck by the humbleness and sincerity of these larger than life NBA players. The key note to keep in mind, there was no LeBron, Wade, Bosh, or Brandon Jennings for warmups. But, it was the likes of players like Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Drew Gooden, Jon Leuer, Carlos Delfino, and many others that made sure all of the young fans left with a happy face. As each player walked by, it was the joy and excitement of each child that reminded me of the great things about this game and its players. The children jumping around in circles hugging their newly autographed pennant was all I could ask for in this experience. It is always the stars that get all the recognition, but it is the lesser known and applauded players like these guys that deserve the true recognition.
As we age, we tend to get a little more bitterness in our blood. Especially towards our favorite athletes and teams, or even referees who do not perform to our standards every night. And as we age, we progressively lose sight of what it was that made it so special to go to a basketball game as a kid. People may still be angry from the lockout, but it is moments like this that remind us all what this game is truly about. An enjoyment, love, and passion felt through everyone that is indescribable.
P.S.- I as well gained the autographs of the entire Miami Heat bench…..sweet.
Alex Rosencutter is a former NCAA basketball player at Clarke University and a kinesiology major at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, this hoops addict and die hard Miami Heat fan, who is obsessed with old school hoops, has a fever for basketball and the only prescription is more basketball.