In any given week, I could be in California’s state capital playing about as many minutes as The Jimmer, writing stories with the Laverne & Shirley theme rattling through my head in Wisconsin or soaking in the scenery and sun of South Beach (uh, I mean laboring diligently in grueling Miami conditions).
Three years into this particular assignment, I’ve become convinced of one undeniable life truth relating to my travels:
Sure, but consider the facts and you’ll see why I wonder if Canada will collapse or spontaneously combust if I actually make it to Ontario’s metropolis.
• 2010-11: HELP! I’M STRANDED IN BUFFALO!
Two seasons ago, Mother Nature, the United Parcel Service, the Buffalo tourism department and my packing/memory ineptitude came together to keep me separated from my passport and from the team I cover.
Instead of making it to what apparently is a terrific international city, I ended up being stuck in Buffalo for two days. In the winter. By myself. It was like getting stranded in Wendover when Las Vegas was the intended destination.
This misadventure started when I forgot to stuff my nightstand (or at least the passport inside) into my luggage. We had a couple of days to spare because the Jazz played in New York before Toronto, but, alas, UPS found new ways (snowstorm, silly employees, etc.) to bungle my shipment.
What can Brown do for me? Buffalo instead of Toronto, that’s what.
An overnight delivery evolved into an over-three-days delivery.
On a positive note, I got my passport but it didn’t arrive until the morning after Utah left Canada. I still made it to Niagara Falls, though. I also got to visit the birthplace of Buffalo wings, the Anchor Bar.
My boss is still trying to forgive me, however, for the fact that I watched the Jazz-Raptors game I was sent across the continent to cover IN TORONTO from a Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar in upstate New York.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin called me “Buffalo” when I finally caught up to the team two days later in Minnesota. In fact, he still zings me with that nickname on occasion.
Jazz fans on Twitter, bless their hearts, love to remind me about Buffalo too.
• 2011-12: NBA KEEPS ALL OF UTAH OUT OF CANADA
Last season was even more elaborate. Hundreds of NBA players and dozens of franchise owners colluded to stage a lockout that was simply a guise to keep me away from the Land of Ketchup Chips, Bare Naked Ladies (the band) and Pamela Anderson’s native home.
Although it seemed sketchy, I was willing to overlook the missed Toronto trip (and zero Florida visits) when I realized Utah didn’t have to travel to Detroit or Milwaukee in the winter.
• 2012-13: YOU’RE HAVING A BABY … FAR, FAR AWAY FROM CANADA
This season, cosmic forces really outdid themselves.
My wife had our first three children about 10-14 days before her due date, and the Jazz’s four-game East Coast trip so happened to fall right in that time frame.
She didn’t tell me I couldn’t go on this trip. BUT she also didn’t tell me I could return from the trip if I chose to leave her in Utah to fend for herself with a newborn and three other kids, either.
Turns out, my wife, Heather, delivered our fourth child last Thursday. I’ve been on paternity leave playing Mr. Mom ever since, and will be until the Jazz return from Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Because I’m gone so often and my wife couldn’t care less about watching sports, we don’t even have cable or satellite in our house. My family didn’t get back from the hospital until Monday evening, either. So not only did I miss Toronto, but I missed watching Al Jefferson hit that 3-pointer to force overtime in the Jazz’s triple-overtime thriller on Monday night.
I’d say maybe next year, but you have to wonder what schemes are being hatched to prevent me from getting to the Air Canada Centre in 2013-14.