November 13, 2008 11:39 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It's a day with no games (at least none to attend), and one for catching up on e-mail, writing stories, plugging leaks over at Basketball State and picking up roadtrip supplies at Wal-Mart. It's also probably best that there's a breather after last night's Lazarus act by Southern Illinois, which started out 2-for-7 from the floor and in a 12-4 hole, and ended up blitzing UMass for two bookend runs in the second half. The structure of the 75-67 win was cinematic, but it wasn't even televised.
It's also as good as any day to reflect on non-basketball ephemera. I'm breaking out a new gameday uniform this year, which I hope will be the kind of gimmick to shed my "Mid-Major Guy" thumbnail bio, without actually yielding the territory to competitors. I'm upgrading my look from the standard shirt and tie of years past to a full suit... and a pair of silver Nikes.
In the running section, there they were. A single pair of brilliant and shiny Air Max sneakers, and they were in my size -- 14. Anybody out there with giant feet knows how difficult it is to find shoes this big, and longtime brand adherents how Nike stores generally keep just one pair of every style in 14, which touches off a massive cutthroat competition amongst us. I slipped the silver shoes on, admired their bounciness and light weight, and went over to where my wife was trying on pair after pair.
"Look at me," I said, mugging and vamping. "I've got shiny shoes!"
My wife rolled her eyes. Then she smiled at the sheer goofiness of them. She asked me if I wanted them for my birthday, and I put up a front, but we quickly came to a resolution.
"I'll get them for you only if you'll wear them," she said. "I can't imagine what kind of situation calls for silver Nikes, though."
I plan to wear my shiny shoes to every game this season, all 125 or so that I attend during 2008-09. It's not some kind of symbolic gesture, like a yellow ribbon or a rubber wristband that's supposed to stand for a cause. I miss my wife dearly, and often find sleep difficult and addled with nightmares, but there will be no Silver Shoes Movement to bring our troops home from Iraq. There are other avenues for those emotions.
When it comes down to it, I wear these silver shoes because they're superfly.
I initially got the e-mail in truncated BlackBerry form while in Carbondale traffic yesterday afternoon. "Mock Selection," the subject read. There was some talk about brackets and select writers inside, and I thought it was another of these insider journalists' bracket pools with 25 years of history, a funny name ("The Gerald" or whatnot) and the opportunity to wear some sash around for a year that will make all the other dyed-in-the-woolleds have to buy you drinks. At which time people actually know who I am, they'll stop sending me these invitations -- I have on-the-record recorded opinions about this practice.When I scrolled down, the signature bore the mark of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It turned out that I had been picked to join the 3rd annual mock selection process held by the NCAA in Indianapolis this coming February.
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