by Kerry Kittles
And you, I guess. Or to the person reading this aloud to you. Hello.
July 29, 2004. I remember standing at the edge my above ground pool in Newark, NJ when my blackberry buzzed next to my cool glass of pink lemonade. "Pack your bags," it read, "you're headed to LA." Beaming with delight, I called my agent to see if I could get Kobe's number to chat before the move, but he replied with my death sentence: Clippers. "For what?" I riposted. A 2nd round pick.
He tried to comfort me, but my citrusy indulgence could only do so much. He said to just do my best and to try to find peace with it through understanding, but I couldn't muster the energy. He tried to finally explain it like I was part of some bigger process, the intentional Clipper expediency program (ICEP), but I wouldn't believe it. My career was nearing an end. I could smell the fat lady singing.
Disgusted, I vowed to someday return to the utopia known as the garden state. That day is today.
Let me tell you, NJ has changed.
First of all - Nets? Where'd they go? I feel like that guy from Memento. My day is the same but the world around me has changed. I admire my rookie card, eat oatmeal wearing my Sly Fox slippers, and re-arrange my MySpace Top 8 to rotate Kidd-Van Horn-Martin-Maculloch to the top spots (#chemistry), but it's like my past has been erased. I keep checking for clues, but I continue to wander through the Prudential center parking lot in a hollowed haze.
Secondly, fuck this guy.
And lastly, I'm happy to be part of a new basketball team that likes the color of basketballs.
This upcoming season, I'll be taking my talents to the bench in Princeton, NJ as an Assistant Coach for the fightin' Princeton Tigers. Bringing my depth of knowledge on midrange shooting and hand checking on defense, I'm dedicated to helping this team play basketball like it's the early 2000s. It will be my first time back on the court since my last run in the NBA. Basketball is still the same. I'm not.
I've earned my MBA from Villanova University and cheered wildly from my Resident Director dorm room apartment when Kris Jenkins sunk that folk-hero shot. I've upgraded to Harry's razors to keep my head clean shaven and sparkling. I'm more of an Ocean Spray Cranberry guy now; turns out Pink Lemonade is loaded with sugar, and I have a history of diabetes in my family.
Some things aren't so different though.
My last name is still unapologetically associated with a candy product. I still use a Blackberry.
My limited edition Men In Black sunglasses still fit me like... sunglasses.
I suppose there was no reason for me to write this to myself. And it's confusing that I've addressed myself as you multiple times. Even though I don't know where the Nets have gone, I still know me.
I still know you.
Basketball is still basketball.
I'm a man.