Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a total, completely unapologetic basketball junkie. If it involves running up and down a hardwood court and throwing a ball into a basket, I’ll watch it with gusto. NBA, NBA G-League, WNBA, NCAA, International, it doesn’t matter. There are few things I love more than watching and talking about basketball.
My wife Lisa, not so much.
To her credit, Lisa tolerated my basketball obsession the best she could. She knew if the Sixers were on that talking to me wasn’t recommended. When we couldn’t afford the decent cable and I had to listen to games on my phone, she understood why I wouldn’t answer her pressing questions about The Bachelor.
In other words, Lisa got it.
The only time of the year Lisa let her aggravation show just a bit was during March Madness. I would be set up with two televisions, a tablet and my phone watching four games at once during the first week of the tournament and she would ask “How long does this go on for?” with a hint of exasperation in her voice.
But again, Lisa understood and let me have my fun.
In 2012, my beloved Sixers shocked their fans by squeaking into the NBA Playoffs with a 35-31 record. With Philly going up against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round, no one was expecting the team to get very far. Despite that, to my surprise, tickets for the playoff games were pretty easy to get and I managed to score a pair of tickets for Game 3.
I had never been to a playoff game before in any of the four major sports, so to me this was a huge deal. I was ready to invite a friend of mine when it dawned on me; Lisa probably had never been to a playoff game either. Considering how patient Lisa was with me during basketball season, I figured I owed it to her to at least offer her the other ticket, not expecting Lisa to accept.
Shockingly, Lisa said yes.
The tickets were pretty good, in the lower level, behind and to the right of the basket. We got there early to avoid traffic and as we walked in they were handing out rally towels to all the fans, which I thought was incredibly cool. A free souvenir! As we made our way to our seats, I got my traditional crab fries and giant Coke while Lisa opted for nachos and a water. We sat down and got comfortable, waiting for the game to start.
Thanks to Derrick Rose getting hurt, the Sixers actually had a chance to win this series and went into Game 3 with the series tied 1-1. Then during the game, Joakim Noah also got hurt when he stepped on Andre Iguodala’s foot. The Sixers had a real chance to win this thing!
None of which Lisa cared about at all.
Lisa watched as I jumped up and down like an idiot, screaming at the top of my lungs. She laughed when I yelled that Iguodala sucked for missing an open shot and told me to relax when the score got too close and I was freaking out.
It was toward the end of the third quarter when I asked Lisa if she wanted anything. She looked at me and said no, she was fine. I asked if she was sure and Lisa said yes, she was good.
That was until a vendor came by our section, selling chocolate-dipped ice cream cones. Lisa took one look, her eyes glazed over and she looked at me, silently asking if she could have one. Ten dollars later, Lisa was blithely eating her ice cream cone while the Sixers took it to the Bulls.
A short time later I was again standing, screaming at the Sixers when I heard Lisa say “Hun?”
Not looking over I said “Yeah?”
“Can I have a napkin?”
“I don’t have any Lisa. As soon as they call a timeout I’ll run up and grab some, okay?”
Less than a minute later the Sixers called a timeout and I turned to tell Lisa I was going to grab some napkins for her. Instead my jaw hit the ground and I was struggling to find words as I took in the sight before me.
Lisa had solved her problem in her own very unique way.
She was using her Sixers rally towel to wipe the chocolate off her face.
Let me repeat that.
My wife was using her Sixers playoff rally towel to wipe chocolate off her face.
My eyes almost bugged out of my head as I exclaimed “What are you doing?!?”
Lisa looked up at me innocently and said “I had chocolate all over me. I figured I had the towel so I used that.”
“You… you can’t use a rally towel to wipe your face! That’s a violation!”
“Oh relax. It’s just a towel.”
As I looked around, trying to determine if anyone had seen what Lisa did, I said “It’s not just a towel! It’s a Sixers rally towel! You just can’t do that.”
Again, Lisa gave me a look and said “It’ll be fine. I’ll wash it when we get home.”
“But… but…” I was at a loss as I looked at the now chocolate-covered Sixers rally towel and then at Lisa, who was finishing her ice cream like nothing had happened.
The Sixers would go on to win the game 79-74 and eventually the series. Good to her word, Lisa washed her rally towel and handed it to me, saying “See? Good as new.” It now hangs on my wall, one of the most important pieces of Sixers memorabilia I own.
Over the years I’ve been to a lot of Sixers games, both good and bad. I have a ton of memories that are forever linked to that team and the joy and heartbreak they’ve brought me. But nothing will ever top the sight of Lisa at a Sixers game, covered in chocolate, wiping her face with a playoff rally towel, not thinking twice about it.
It’s just another one of the many reasons I loved Lisa so damn much.