Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Free Darko's Valentine's Day Spectacular
(Plus: The Story of A First Date)

As it IS Valentine's Day, I wanted to point you specifically to Free Darko's epic post (of guest-posts) dedicated to "Love and Basketball."

There are notable submissions from Deadspin's Will Leitch, With Leather's Matt Ufford, TrueHoop's's Henry Abbott a cavalcade of top-notch NBA bloggers... and even one from me.

Here's the link, so you can read my submission in its original form and see the great work by everyone else, but here's what I contributed:

"He's Just Not That Into U-donis"
Filed by Dan Shanoff

I'm not quite sure I can pinpoint exactly when I knew I WOULD marry my wife, but I'm quite sure I can pinpoint exactly when I knew I COULD:

The year: 2001
The setting: Our first date.
The place: West Village Italian restaurant
The context: 1.2 bottles of wine into dinner.
The topic on the table: The preeminent value of offensive rebounds in relation to (1) a basketball team's chances of success and (2) a basketball forward's worth as a player.

Let me clarify: My wife (then, the random woman I was on a first date with) was making that argument. I was pretending to engage in the discussion. I was nodding. I may have even been responding.

All I know is that her voice was drowned out by the one in the back of my head:

Li'l Danny: "Are you listening to this? Are you listening?!"

Me: "Pipe down. She's trying to make a point about the pro potential of Udonis Haslem."

Li'l Danny: "The fat Florida center? He'll never make it!"

Me: "Shh!"

Li'l Danny: "But here is a woman who not only loves basketball, but appreciates it for its subtle pleasures!"

Me: "Which *I'm* trying to appreciate, save for your yammering!"

Li'l Danny: "I think I'm in love. Go on: Say something smart that will make her respect you for your basketball knowledge!"

Me: "OK...wait: I'm blanking! I'm blanking!! It's all too much pressure! I'm smitten!"

Li'l Danny: "Plus-minus! Plus-minus!"

Me: "What the hell is 'plus-minus?'" (Remember: It was 2001.)

Li'l Danny: "Nooooo! Damn your ignorance! You better switch topics to something more your speed... like pop culture."

Me: "So, uh, how about'Sex and the City' women?" (D'oh!)

Fast-forward nearly six years, one marriage and one kid later: Her enthusiastic argument on behalf of offensive rebounds remains THE most -- if not only -- vivid detail of our entire first date.

And as we sit in our NYC apartment today watching her favorite NBA player -- David Lee (yeah, she's a Gators fan) -- she's still talking about offensive rebounds. And knowing Lee's NBA-best offensive-rebounding numbers, I couldn't love her more for it.


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

-- D.S.


PostmanE said...

I suppose I could use FreeDarko's board to post this, but I really enjoyed your story. I have had a similar experience with my girlfriend; that feeling of recognition in someone else's experiences is always enjoyable. Well done, sir.

One Shining Moment Bloggers said...

It takes a big man to admit that his wife knows more about basketball than he does. I admire your stones, Mr. Shanoff.

Mega said...

I have never had a girlfriend come close to being that into sports of any kind. The closest was my ex who could name 3 players from the Cubs (which is impressive for Cubs fans).

Shanoff, 3 words for you:

Best. Wife. Ever.

Natsfan74 said...

I'm glad to know that I am not the only person who married someone at least partially to sports compatibility.

When my now wife and I first started dating, she asked me what I was doing on a particular Saturday. Fearing she wanted to make plans, I immediately responded that I had college football season tickets (Go 'Bows), and that I was going to the game. She immediately responded that she was going to the game and hoped I would go with her. Through that, I learned what a huge sports fan she is, which makes us more compatible.

We now live in DC, have Nationals season tickets, and Virginia football tickets. I think having a wife who is a sports fan makes my life 14% better. That equates to 1/7 of a week -- or at least one day per week that I don't have to fight over watching some sporting event because she just gets it.

CMFost said...

yeah, I am sure that was what little danny was saying.

but I will agree it is better to marry someone who will enjoy going to sporting events with you and has enough knowledge of the sport not to ask stupid questions.

Luke Bell said...

Wait, Dan's wife is a Gator fan? Why didn't he ever mention that before?

Calvealier said...

I have a question for Mr. Shanoff: You think Isiah Thomas is a leading candidate for coach of the (mid) year. Your wife, the woman you love, is a huge proponent of players who are solid offensive rebounders. You respected her for this opinion on your first date (as you should, she is right). Her current favourite player is a fantastic offensive rebounder, as you astutely pointed out (David Lee). Yet, Isiah Thomas, the supposed coach of the (mid)year, refuses to start this guy or consistently play him 35+ minutes a night. This contradiction is inexplicable to me.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I once dated a girl who summed up her sports knoweldge best with, "So how many of those top or bottom innings until we can leave?" Yeah...that relationship lasted, or not.


MySpace is like The started off as something that no one thought would do much, but it just seems to take over more and more. The weirdest thing...tells me when people have b'days, and make it seem like I care. So Dan...happy early b-day.


ps. Isiah blows.