July 13 - July 19, 1995

To The Letter

B y  T o m  D a n e h y


A COUPLE WEEKS BACK, we printed this novella from a guy named Kevin Something. Apparently, I'm not his favorite sportswriter. That's cool; everybody has a right to his own opinion. In a perverse sorta way, I actually like letters like that. Most writers do--it's an occupational sickness. Usually, it's best just to let them have their say; the reader who takes the time to write a letter deserves that much.

Occasionally, however, the reader/letter writer makes false statements which require a reply. Alas, I didn't have the opportunity to do so when the letter first ran, seeing as it took up about the first eight pages of the paper, complete with epilogue, bibliography and footnotes (not to mention self-congratulatory "hoo-ahs" every few paragraphs).

Besides, I didn't have the chance to draft a reply because I was working at a basketball camp that week, partly in hopes of reducing the "fat ass" which Kevin says I have. I don't know how he could possibly know that, although there has been this one guy who spends an inordinate amount of time in the shower room at the fitness club I go to.

The gist of the letter (as if War And Peace could have a gist) was that I'm a negative guy, negative and repetitive. Negative and repetitive and, oh, negative.

I just have to take exception. I'm really an upbeat guy. Heck, if you asked 10 people who know me, I'd bet nine would say that I'm the most consistently cheerful person they know. It'd be unanimous except that the tenth person knows Guy Atchley personally.

A few other things:

• He complained that I'm always saying that everything sucks, then he rags on me for being a Wildcat fan. Kevin is obviously like my good friend Skippy. Just another Midwest transplant who came to Arizona for a job or an education or just to get away from all the rust, then sits around here pissin' on the locals and telling anyone who'll listen just how wonderful things were back home.

Well, as they say down at the gym (where message is more important than diction): "It ain't where you're from; it's where you're at." I honestly don't understand why any sports fan would live in a city where he finds it impossible to support the local teams, especially consistently good teams like the UA has.

If things are so wonderful back in Michigan, get your ass on back there. Heck, by leaving Tucson and moving to Detroit, you'd probably raise the average IQ level of both cities.

• He says that I say things behind people's backs. Just because I write it doesn't mean I wouldn't say it. Ask anybody who knows me and they'll tell you that I'll say anything to anybody's face, anytime.

• I don't eat quiche and I don't drink Evian. Those are really low blows.

• I do use bad language sometimes. I have to cut that out. I gave up cussing for Lent one time, but damned if Easter didn't come around.

• He implies that I'm a racist because most of the shit-talkers I rag on are black. If I said that the majority of pro basketball players are black, would I be a racist or just a careful observer?

For a variety of reasons (all of them boring), the majority of shit-talkers are black, too. Knowing this and saying this doesn't make me a racist. Just informed. Heck, for all I know, maybe someday shit-talking will replace the language of diplomacy, at which time Deion Sanders will become Ambassador to the U.N.

• I'm not an ex-jock who has never won anything in his life. Despite being a couple decades and a few dozen pounds past my prime, I still play ball all the time. Why, just last year, a team I play on called 4 1/2 White Guys won the City League basketball title. And another team I'm on, Jesse's Messie, has won five straight championships in another league.

I've won and lost thousands of games in my life. Winning is more fun, but losing is better than not playing at all. So Kevin, if you ever want to get some of your boys together for a friendly game of basketball, give me a call and we'll hook up.

• I may talk trash in my column, but never in a game. Some things are sacred. I'm the picture of sportsmanship at all times on a court or field of play.

• Finally, Kevin said that Chris Webber was so upset at my writing that he had trouble cashing his $55-million check. We all know that the real reason he had trouble cashing the check is that he kept misspelling "Chris" on the back.

One thing I took to heart is that Kevin said I'm always negative, especially about Michigan. So right now, I'm going to show him that I can say nice things about Michigan:

1. Magic Johnson, my second favorite basketball player of all time, was born and raised in Michigan. Of course, he moved to L.A. first chance he got.

2. My niece Jackie was born in Michigan. She and her mother eventually escaped and worked their way into the United States.

3. The Michigan Militia is from Michigan. The Michigan Militia is the collective poster child for retroactive birth control.

4. I tried to become a Detroit Red Wings fan during the hockey playoffs. Unfortunately, all I kept getting was the urge to lie down and let someone from New Jersey run a broom over me.

Whew, gotta stop. This lovefest is getting out of hand. Thanks for the letter, Kevin. I'll watch my language in the future and try to be more positive. Because hey, negativity sucks.

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July 13 - July 19, 1995

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