Panic will trick you when it begins to auspiciously aid your existence. As I left my room before our first summer league game I looked in the mirror, “fuck,” once again speechless, our new uniforms were incredible. Like always my bright white sneakers are complimented by the traditional black band that we all wear around our left calf. The shorts were just a mesh of a delight. Seeing the black #22 embroidered on our shorts always lends a remainder as to exactly what it is that we’re trying to prove up in this peace. The spanking new blue and white reversible tank tops are easily the best looking in the league. My sly grin and petite face put me at a loss for words. My hair was styled with about two tons of mousse that provided a cool, hard spike to my short blonde hair.
Walking downstairs to my kitchen my mother sits stunned and has her hand halfway towards cupping her mouth. This typically precipitated awful news and I was alert to anything resembling anymore. As I think, “Ma what now?” “Oh hunny I can’t believe it.” “What?”
“I don’t know if its true but the newsman just said that Reggie Lewis died.” She points to the TV where it was being reported that Reggie Lewis has just died from massive cardiac arrest. “What?” The word jettisoned out of my mouth. My eyes darted in her direction. “Oh poor Reggie” my mother genuinely cries out. I cranked the television standing in disbelief. Last season was Reggie Lewis’s first as an all-star. A six-foot eight, shooting guard, a pure scorer, number thirty-five. Hanging out with him even for just an hour lent us an affirmation as to why we all liked him so much. It can’t be true but knew somewhere inside it was. I hugged my mother pondering our curse. It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true.
I blocked it out. Repression is underrated. I gave my mother a smile and a kiss informing her that I have a very important game to attend. She told me she loved me the most as Magic finally after screaming at me to hurry up from the driveway walks into the kitchen and chills out instantaneously when he senses our exposed fragility.
“What now?” There was fire in his tone. “Oh boys I’m so sorry, please don’t do anything stupid.” “Ma shh!”
And just like that channel 7 news comes back on and confirmed that our hero Reggie Lewis had died hours ago at the Celtics practice facility on the campus of Brandies University. The same gym where just two years ago I landed my face on the cover of the town paper after winning beating Medford to advance the mighty Madison Minutemen along in the state tournament.
“Holy fucking shit.” Magic deadly states. I was unable to muster a sentence. “Holy fucking shit.” Magic repeated again, the second Boston Celtics to die in six years, and all-star and local hero having attended the remotely mentioned in big time hoops, Northeastern University. My mother had every right to panic. I’d seen the inside of a courtroom. “Oh boys, please give me a hug” crying she feels so awful as a mother that these things after everything else are happening to her boys, “It’s OK ma we’ll be OK, the game tonight will be good to us.” “We’ll be fine Ms. Makers, he’ll call later.” Magic always knowing the right thing to say and like that we drive off to our summer contest minus one hero.
Once we’re inside the field house we notice that a very nice crowd has shown for tonight’s, due to the rain, indoor contest. We roll up to the dawgs and I tell Goldy, his father and Spec about Reggie Lewis. The original Goldy snapped back informing me bluntly not to joke about something like that. Once Magic man compounds my sentiments as we all stand stunned. We inform the entire squad of the news and methodically begin warm ups. The final whistle blows before tip off and we bring it in as customary. With our hands high in the sky we ask Santo to watch over us and pray that Reggie has at least one admirer already present up top. Before we break huddle something stink’s hellish odor and Spec remarks, “somebody’s right guard took a left yo.” It destroyed me in a good way.
We were playing the only remaining undefeated team that summer. We shot 70% from three and destroyed the Blazers, years our elder. Our shooting performance was out of orbit. We put on a clinic.