Did I tell you the one about me, Travis Diener and the Kiss Cam?
My sister Kathy will be shocked. She believes I have told that story to every living soul on the planet (and a few who have passed on as well).
It goes like this:
Several years ago, I sat next to former Marquette star Travis Diener, then with the Orlando Magic, at an MU basketball game. As the “Kiss Cam” swept the crowd, it settled on him and, inexplicably, me. We didn’t kiss, of course. He waved gallantly, I grinned like an idiot, and the moment passed quickly, I’m sure forgettably for him.
Ah, but I, who found the whole situation hilarious, have not forgotten. Particularly amusing to me was the fact that Diener’s gorgeous girlfriend was sitting to the right of him, out of camera range, and my handsome husband was sitting to my left, also out of Kiss Cam range.
“Hey! I just saw you on the Kiss Cam with Travis Diener” my brother in-law Steve texted me at the time, from his seat across the arena.
“Yes!” I replied. “I think everyone thought they were cheering for Travis Diener and his mother.”
The whole thing cracked me up.
As it tends to, this story came up again two nights ago when my sister messaged me about Travis Diener hitting one of his legendary three-point shots that gave the Golden Eagles a 78-73 win over Sideline Cancer during The Basketball Tournament’s championship game Tuesday night.
In these crazy pandemic times, TBT, a six-year old winner take all tournament, has been the first to brave hosting a live televised basketball event. According to this fascinating article, they did it by relying on the advice of a Johns Hopkins public health expert.
From the outset, tournament officials quarantined everybody involved in the tournament — all players, coaches, GMs, TBT staff, camera crews and game officials. They also tested them repeatedly prior to and during the tournament, eventually issuing around 1,200 COVID-19 tests. Any players or coaches who tested positive during initial pre-tournament testing (36 did) were either eliminated from the tournament, or if they’d been practicing with TBT teammates, their entire team was eliminated. Athletes and coaches were not allowed to socialize with anyone outside of their own team.
In an interview prior to the championship game, Diener contended that the quarantine bonded his team as they all went through an historic experience together.
Of course, earning a million dollar purse can bond people too.
Diener celebrated the big win by picking up the tab for everyone at The Press Box, the bar his parents own in Fond du Lac, his hometown. He and his teammates also vowed to donate a portion of their winnings to pancreatic cancer research because that was the charity their opponents, Sideline Cancer, intended to support.
I love the story because it showed that, with a lot of effort and science, exciting live basketball games still exist in this world and so do nice guys who play them.
Also, it gave me another chance to tell my Travis Diener story.