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January 15, 2011

On Tour: Day 2


If you had to select one directive to describe today's blog signing you couldn't go wrong with that one. It just so happened that I wasn't the only celebrity roaming on campus this week. To the joy of bored-students/fake-Jazz-fans everywhere, Jeff Hornacek made an appearance at Utah State yesterday. By the numbers, Jeff had some one thousand students show up for his presentation. Meanwhile the turnout for day two on the tour was not so hot - one fan arrived. I can't help but feel that a number of people who were planning to come for autographs forgot the event due to the excitement of having an NBA legend within smelling distance. Once again my thoughts turn to my PR representative. Who schedules a signing the day after a folk hero comes to town? But I suppose if I'm going to be put to shame by someone it might as well be the beloved sharp-shooter of my youth. And if I'm going to be approached for an autograph by anyone, it might as well be Caitlyn and her bag of sweettart hearts, both of which left me feeling twitterpated (or at least thinking about Twitter).

At least one person left the tour signed and satisfied

I'll say one thing for Twitter: I love what it's done for sports stars. Athletes are interviewed everyday by various media types without ever letting on to what's really going on in their heads. Yet for whatever reason, these very same reserved-when-questioned athletes are willing to disclose anything if Twitter is involved. SI writer Richard Hoffer explained it best: "Twitter ... destroys such traditional filters as time and good sense."

My two favorite athelte-related tweets are the ones involving personal feelings and jabs at opponents. Take for example Paul Pierce's tweet mocking LeBron James after the Celctic's beat the Heat in Miami: "It's been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach". Pierce would never have made such a remark to a reporter, but he was fine sending it to Tweet-accepting devices everywhere. Same goes for LeBron, who recently tweet-taunted Cleveland after the Caveliers endured a 55-point loss to the Lakers: "Crazy. Karma is a b----. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"

Deity shows up frequently in Tweets. When Steve Johnson of the Bufallo Bills dropped a wide-open touchdown pass that cost the Bills the game, he opened up in a personal way - by blaming God - that traditional media could never evoke: "I praise you 24/7!!!!!! And this how you do me!!!!! You expect me to learn from this??? How???!!!I'll never forget this!! Ever!!! Thx tho..." Again, no athlete would ever reveal such personal feelings in a typical post game interview or press conference (exception: John Beck and the infamous crying incident. I refuse to link to the YouTube clip). Isn't this what we've always wanted? To truly know what an athlete is feeling after a monumental play has occurred?

The truth is athletes can range from selfish and immature to wise and and eloquent and getting a glimpse into their true thoughts is remarkable. For this I thank Twitter. But for those athletes who are too old to use the internet -- paging Jeff Hornacek -- a Q and A session like Tuesday's provides a similar opportunity to learn things that were never revealed by the questionings of traditional media. For example, until Tuesday I had never heard that Hornacek ...

- Did not believe that Michael Jordan pushed off Bryan Russell

- Will coach full time once his youngest daughter is a little older

- While playing for Phoenix, once called a Jazz fan a fat (insert swear word here). Turns out that fan was Larry Miller ("I guess I'll never get traded to Utah," Hornacek remarked once he learned who the fan was.)

- Began training Fesenko in free throw shooting on Monday (why this didn't happen sooner, no one asked surprisingly)

- Believes the Jazz's ten day layoff between sweeping the Lakers and beginning the series with the Bulls was the key factor that led to losing the Finals (Jazz lost their momentum and mojo during the break)

- Retired from the Jazz not because of his knees but because he didn't think the team would have another chance at winning the championship (I thought I was the only one that pessimistic about the Jazz)

Surprisingly the greatest revelation of the night had little to do with basketball. Believe it or not, Jeff Hornacek, prior to becoming an NBA star was a mere accountant (pretty believable actually considering his hairstyle and lack of athleticism). He had even accepted a position with a top accounting firm and told them the only way he wouldn't work for them is if he was fortunate enough to be drafted into the NBA. Well,God truly loved Jeff for he spared him from the clutches of boredom and inserted him into a job where he played a game for a living (where he learned to deal with a different type of clutch).

I relate this story because it gives me hope that I too may be similarly saved from an accounting future devoid of personality, pleasure and prosperity. Perhaps I too can be gifted an escape by making it big elsewhere. If the tour results are any indication my big break probably won't come from blogging, but I could still become famous as a model, astronaut, or maybe even a politician.

Then we'll see how I often I get upstaged.

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