Self-talk

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Monday, June 10, 2013


THERE are only two things that I wake up earlier than usual for-family-related matters and the NBA games.

Used to be when I’d start watching and monitoring my favorite teams as early as the playoffs. When time ran short, however, I could start only with the Western Conference and Eastern Conference games.

But missing the Finals was never an option. I’d work my appointments around the Finals schedules. If an emergency dictated against this, then watching the replay at night became non-negotiable.

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So, when San Antonio’s Tony Parker said he started at twenty-one and he’s now thirty-one, and realized it was getting harder to get into the Finals, that stopped me. I didn’t know that the NBA Finals had dictated my schedule for the past ten years!

Yes, the Spurs were my favorite team. I loved their lack of braggadocio and unassuming ways very endearing. Even when they scored and the crowd was roaring wild, they merely smiled. No flailing of arms, no egging of the crowd for robust applause, no howling, no cry of the jungle after a powerful dunk or a three-pointer.

Then the Spurs played against the Pistons in 2005. Once again, I rooted for the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. My dad rooted for the defending champion, the Detroit Pistons.

Why, I asked him. I found the Wallace guys (Ben and Rasheed) rough and sometimes loud. Because, he said, they’re all-American, unlike the Spurs who were dominantly imports. Ah, okay.

This time around, the Spurs are again in the Finals. Duncan is now 37, and wants to have another championship ring. It might even be his last game prior to retirement, if the rumor mills prove right.

But the Spurs are still dominantly imports. Ginobili is still from Argentina, Tiago Splitter from Brazil, and Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo from France. Then there’s Cory Joseph from Canada, Patty Mills from Australia, and Aaron Baynes from New Zealand.

On the other hand, Miami Heat is all-American, except for Joel Anthony who’s from Canada. Yes, Shane Battier sounds French. But he was born in Michigan and attended Duke University before joining the NBA.

Equally American are the colorful birdman himself, Chris Andersen, despite his Danish-spelled surname, and Udonis Haslem, who was born in Florida.

Prior to Game 1, I told my husband, “The Finals results will be a win-win for me. Whether the Spurs or the Heat wins, I’ll still be happy.”

So when Duncan does a jump shot and scores, when the young Danny Green successfully blocks LeBron James, and when Kawhi Leonard scores a three-point shot, I applaud and marvel at their energy and courage. And when Parker jets down the paint, spins and then lands the ball straight into the basket, I’m amazed at his versatility.

But when LeBron James is not aggressive enough, or when Battier keeps missing his three-point shots, or when Dwyane Wade disappoints, I hear myself shouting at the television screen, “Pagbantay mo; ayaw pag-ya-ya ba! Pastilan ninyo oy! ”

Hmmm… my self-talk betrays my mind.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 11, 2013.

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