True story, from Kassan, Office of Product Development: At the age of ten I began to dream of a Professional Basketball career. I assumed a High School growth spurt would take me to my ideal basketball-playing height of 6-foot 6-inches. It never happened. I only grew to around 5-foot 10-inches and 115 pounds. I was known as the skinny little Arab kid who could run like the wind. As skinny as I was, the wind often impeded my forward progress on the outdoor courts.
Even so, I felt that my excellent jump shot, court vision and basketball IQ would help me make the high school basketball team. I was wrong. I did go on to excel at the local recreation center and YMCA. But no D1 scouts ever came to watch me play at the rec center.
My love for basketball has never faltered, though. I follow, play, and enjoy the game as I did when I was a ten year-old boy (but now my vertical leap is even less than before, my knees affect my forward progress and I am nowhere near 115 pounds).
Last year, one of my all-time-best-dreams came true as I won the opportunity to go to Indianapolis and see the last four big college basketball teams battle it out for the championship.
At age 34, I was just as excited as when I was ten years old.
I arrived in Indianapolis on Saturday at 3 p.m. I could not believe how excited I was! The first game started at 6:10 p.m. and the second game ended at 11 p.m. When the underdog “home team,” Butler, beat all odds and made the final round, the entire city went from electric to a HIGH VOLTAGE.
The next day, the day before the championship game, was spent navigating the city and making plans. We made a friend along the way (pictured) and we donated money to his cause.
We went back to the hotel early that night and prepared ourselves for the big game.
On Championship Monday we visited Indianapolis’ beautiful downtown mall and took part in a bunch of game-day events. One hour before tip-off we headed to the arena. I didn’t really care who won the game but my heart was racing. Lucas Oil Stadium was loud and excitement showed on every one of the 100,000 faces in attendance. For four quarters the game was close. It was an incredible game, one of the best championship games ever. When the final horn sounded the final score was 60 to 59. The standing ovation for the Butler team (even though they came up one point short) was so deafening that I got goose bumps.
Time had run out on the hometown team and on my dream basketball weekend. We drove back to Cleveland right after the game. The five-hour drive felt like an hour because I spent the early morning hours replaying the images from one of the most exciting sports weekends of my life.
I work in Products for the Ohio Lottery. I get excited every year at this time, partly because of the exciting games (ours and the basketball), and partly because we always do a great promotion that ties in with the tournament. In this case, March Mania – we give you a free $2.00 Slam Dunk Dough EZ Play with every ten bucks of Keno.
I never could slam dunk. But I’m psyched to see the games and watch our players win some extra prizes. In my work, and in my heart, it’s all about the games. There will only be one winner on April 4. But at the Lottery, we have hundreds of thousands of winners everyday.
And I still have a nice jump shot. Enjoy the games!