Monday, July 22, 2024

Better Than Air Jordans: My Dad’s MVP Play on a Legendary Night

No, my dad didn’t play in the NBA, but he was a hero to me one night. I was reminded of this while re-watching the documentary “The Last Dance,” which chronicles the rise and fall of the Chicago Bulls’ 90s championship run. It took me back to the time my brother and I watched Michael Jordan play live. This was a big deal for us, growing up in Louisville, which is known for college basketball, not pro sports.

When we heard that Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were coming to play an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings, we were ecstatic. We ran through the house yelling, “The Bulls are coming, the Bulls are coming!” We were like two young Paul Reveres that day! This was our chance to see Air Jordan in person, but tickets were pricey, and our parents couldn’t just splurge on them.

My dad said he would try to get tickets. What he really did was work extra shifts to afford good seats, not just the nosebleeds. We were around 12-13 years old, constantly asking about the tickets, making sure we behaved impeccably—imagine mini Carlton Banks. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, especially since my brother usually hated chores and homework, but he kept it up for a week straight.

My Father with my little brother

Things were looking up; both parents were picking up extra shifts, and there were no reports of Jordan missing the game due to injury. But then came the bad news. With a disappointed look, Dad sat us down and said, “Boys, we have a problem. The car needs repairs, and we can’t afford both that and the tickets. I wanted to give you the choice since you were looking forward to the game. We can fix the car so Mom and I can go to work or buy the tickets.”

Of course, we were devastated. With heavy hearts, we agreed that fixing the car was best for our family. It felt like losing the love of my life and being told I was a terrible person, that’s how deep the disappointment ran.

The next day, Dad took us to AutoZone for car parts. And there it was—a contest to win two tickets to the Bulls game. I pointed at the sign and begged my parents to enter despite the age limit. Mom always said, “If you don’t enter, you can’t win.”

Days passed, and I had nearly given up when the phone rang. Breathless, I answered. “Hello, is this Furlin Patterson?” the caller asked.

“He’s not home yet. Can I take a message?” I replied.

“Yes, this is AutoZone. He’s won two tickets to the Bulls game next week! Tell him to call us to pick them up today,” he said excitedly.

“For real?!” I yelled.

“Yes, congratulations!” he replied.

I ran around the house like Road Runner, screaming, “We’re going to the game!” When my brother heard, he joined in, and we hugged each other like we’d won an NBA Championship!

When Dad got home, we shared the news. He was thrilled but knew there was a catch—there were only two tickets. He decided to buy my Mom a ticket in the nosebleed section while my brother and I got the close seats. It was a sacrifice, as he was a big fan, too. What made him a hero that day was not just getting us to the game but also going to work during it.

At the game, Mom walked us to our seats before going to hers. The moment was magical; time seemed to stand still. The crowd erupted with every Jordan dunk. It was more than I could have imagined, an opportunity we almost missed, but fate had other plans.

Looking back, it’s a reminder that life can hold unexpected blessings, often aided by the people who love us. In this case, it was my parents, especially Dad, the ultimate MVP – the Most Valuable Pops. This experience, etched forever in my memory, proves that sometimes, a little luck and a lot of love can create a truly legendary night. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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