“That’s why you go to the game.”-abk
For those not familiar with anything but khakis ®️, two of my favorite past times are sports and travel. I love each of these independent of each other, but when I can combine the two, my juices really get going.
When I lived in North Carolina, I had season tickets for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets for years. Through work, I went to nearly every single Carolina Panthers game. Now that I’m down in the Deep South and have taken a liking to the New Orleans Pelicans, I am pondering my options there.
But I’ve always thought that following my team around on the road would be the absolute coolest. To be a fan of the Hornets, Panthers, or Pelicans and go watch them in Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, or New York.
I’ve done plenty of this. I’ve flown to Cleveland to see my Panthers play the Browns. I’ve driven to West Lafayette, Indiana, to see my Penn State Nittany Lions play Purdue University in football. I’ve bought great seats when my Hornets came to New Orleans.
But as my wife kindly reminds me quite often, it’s not always about me. Enter my son. Enter his Boston Celtics and his favorite player Jayson Tatum. Enter what I can only imagine is going to be an incredible next ten to fifteen years of family, sports, and travel.
I neither told my son nor my parents that we were going to Charlotte. (That’s the abk way.) My sister, her husband, and I cooked this entire surprise visit up.
With the move to coastal Mississippi and the lifestyle that I have designed, I don’t see my parents nearly enough. And since I hadn’t seen them over the holidays, I needed to go hug their necks. I looked at this date. I looked at that date. But MLK Day weekend kept jumping out.
The way my brain works, I wondered if the Hornets were home. Visit my family, eat some NC grub, see the city, catch a game. Makes sense to me. When I opened the schedule and saw that they were indeed home, I was sold. When I saw WHO they were playing, I did the damn thing.
Hornets vs Celtics. Uptown Charlotte. MLK Day 2023.
I needed two last minute plane tickets. $900 a piece from Gulfport. Only $400 a piece from Mobile. Done. We needed 8 tickets to the game. $300 a piece down low. $67 a piece up high. Done. I needed to get Banks out of school on Tuesday, a skill I have become quite adept at after our recent visit to Harvard lol. Done.
My son thought he was going for an afternoon drive and barely kissed his mom goodbye. Over the phone, my mom was going on and on about how she and dad were going to lunch and a game on Monday in Charlotte. I just nodded over the phone as I drove to the airport, all of the parties clueless as to what was about to happen.
As the icing on the cake, I texted Miss Tina, my son’s favorite teacher/babysitter/nanny/everything for the first few years of his life. I asked her to make a surprise appearance at lunch. She rearranged some things and made it work. By the way, no one knows I’m coming. No one knows you’re coming. It’s going to be great.
When my sister jumped out of the “Uber” to pick us up at the Charlotte airport, my son’s reaction was priceless. His cousins’ reactions were equally as priceless. When I told the big man on game day that he should probably wear his Celtics gear that his mom had sneakily packed into his suitcase, he lost it. When my parents were looking for a parking spot prior to Monday lunch and I peered around the corner, my mom’s reaction was priceless. When she saw Banks with me, she got Grandma Giddy. When Miss Tina saw my son and my son saw Miss Tina, I started crying.
The visit was too short, but great. We talked, laughed, and ate. I was curious if my son would actually watch the game or, since he was with his cousins who he loves, would they have his attention?
It didn’t take long to get my answer. As we walked toward the arena, he started hollering at other Boston fans on the street. When we got to our seats and he spotted Tatum warming up, he got dialed in. When we went to the Fan Shop at halftime that lingered into the start of the third quarter, he got quite annoyed at me. And when Tatum hit that final three pointer with roughly fifteen seconds left to give him 51 points for the game, my son started high fiving anyone nearby wearing green. As this all went down, I thought to myself, I know pure joy when I see it. This kid loves the Boston Celtics.
He’s seen the Celtics in Boston. He’s seen the Celtics three times in New Orleans, including the day Kobe Bryant died. He’s now seen them in Charlotte. His birthday is in three weeks. As his present, he specifically requested to go to Milwaukee to see the Bucks play the Celtics. I had a look, but I’m not even abk enough to pull this one off. Midweek, Valentine’s Day. I told him no, but that I’d figure something out.
I figure Houston is only a six hour drive away, and I hear the Rockets host the Celtics some Monday in the near future. So stay tuned, and stay abk.
Have a great week.-Benj
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