Sometimes, I’m sitting down at night or getting up in the morning, with no plans to write anything. But then, I run across or read something that just makes my mind start to look like the time-lapse video I watched the other day, of the new Gopher Facilities being built. What I ran across tonight on Twitter was DEFINITELY one of those things.
— Minnesota Gophers (@GopherSports) February 2, 2018
Marcus Fuller caught wind of a story that I ran across on Twitter this evening at approximately 7:20 PM. And how do you not click on that headline? Right? I mean, that’s why you’re here right? Daniel Oturu + LaVar Ball all in one headline…
— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) February 7, 2018
So, the headline caught my eye and got me to click but once I started reading, my mind went somewhere else entirely, and it was so much better than what I expected. First, let me give you some of the quotes from this piece that go me all jacked up on my Mountain Dew:
Here’s Oturu talking to Fuller about his offer from LaVar Ball, to join the new league for NBA hopefuls, called the Junior Basketball Association (JBA):
“I already told him, ‘No, I’m going to college and I’m looking to make my state proud.’ That’s my goal. That’s been my dream. Nothing is going to change that.”
“I’m always rooting for my Gophers.”
The entire article from Marcus Fuller is a good read and I’d highly recommend it. It’s short and sweet.
First, I love that there wasn’t any hesitation for Oturu. I mean, let’s be realistic. You have a much better chance to end up where you want to be as a professional basketball player if you’re able to enter a D1 program as a top-50 national recruit, like Oturu is, compared to joining a newly started league by a basketball dad who likes to yell a lot and sells a lot of expensive shoes. So, it probably wouldn’t make sense for the Gopher recruit to jump on the Ball Family Train, in the first place.
But, that’s not why he says “no”. And that is what got me so excited.
My best years as a Minnesota sports fan were, like most, from 8-14 years old. Everything about sports starts dying off as you get older (says the guy who dropped his whole life to start a website about Minnesota sports in his mid-twenties) much like that of Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. You just start to realize that sports and the outcomes of games aren’t what life depends on. It’s more of an escape and something to distract you from the real stresses of your day-to-day life.
But, when you’re 10 years old — and the
Gophers just came off of a Final Four run in 1997 that swallowed the entire state of Minnesota; the Timberwolves are quickly rising with a blossoming young superstar point guard, who is yet to display his disdain for not being the center of attention, and a young Power Forward who has already been dubbed what Marbury wanted (the future) and his first of many nicknames in simply: “The Kid” — you LIVE and DIE by your teams.
They are the ONLY things that matter. You’d be HAPPY to give up your sister and your pinky-toe for a professional championship for your team.
All you did in your driveway as a young “baller” was practice crossover dribble moves and fade-away jump shots as Marbury or Bobby Jackson. And who did you play for EVERY DAMN TIME when you were coming up the court with just 15 seconds left on the clock, ready to hit that imaginary game-winner that sends you to the National Title Game? If you weren’t playing for the Gophers when you hit (or missed) that game-winner, then you’re on the wrong website.
If you were in your backyard batting-box dropping BOMBS off of your little brothers, leaving tennis ball marks on your pissed off neighbor’s garage doors, YOU WERE PLAYING FOR THE F*CKING TWINS.
When you were dragging your toes across the blades of grass that were, if only for that one throw, the last millimeters of imaginary in-bounds turf between you and that coveted first down while you yelled “CRIS CARTER!!!”, you were ALWAYS fantasizing yourself in a purple jersey.
Yet, whenever Minnesota Kids, MUCH MORE talented than myself, have grown older, they’ve decided to take the route that many already have. The route that takes them to the “basketball blue-bloods”: Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, and even our hated, much worse smelling neighbors, Wisconsin. Instead of playing home games in the Barn or TCF Bank (formerly the Metrodome) to help turnaround the school they all cheer for when they are 9, they move away. The maroon and gold that most of them wore throughout their childhood, are replaced for a color that makes life easier for them.
That’s fine. I’ve never had anything against kids who need to make a decision that will ultimately have a HUGE effect on where their life ends up. I get it.
So, when guys like Daniel Oturu, Amir Coffey (who was the first in this new generation of top Minnesota talent to stay home), and fellow Gopher commits, Gabe Kalscheur and Jarvis Omersa all decide to stay home and play for the Gophers it shows how confident they are in their own abilities along how much they believe in Coach Pitino. They have the courage (among other things) that others before them didn’t. They want to win and they want to succeed but it means more to them to do it for their home-state.
Just like it would for me. Or you. This is our state. We grew up here. We’ve cheered here. We’ve laughed here. We’ve definitely cried here. But, we are in this together. And it’s good to know that our top in-state talent sees the forest through the trees just like we fans do. The next 5-10 years are going to be different, Minnesota. I can feel it.
And, we’ll be here for you at Minnesota Sports Fan the entire way. More cheering, laughing, and definitely more crying. But, we’ll be here. Just like Daniel, we’ll be here.