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FEB
11

Unified

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I attended a high school basketball game last week that just may have restored my faith in the youth of America. See, I'd never heard of a "unified" basketball league, but they are essentially composed of a mix of kids with special needs and kids without them. The kids without special needs, many of them quite athletically talented, are the ones who primarily rebound, get the ball down the court and into the hands of a shooter, but they themselves are not allowed to shoot. Only the special needs kids can shoot the ball.

When the concept was explained to me prior to the game, it's the sort of thing you hear about and then worry you might cry when you see it in action. "Oh no," I was assured. "It's not like that." But it is like that. And I'm here to tell you that I could have cried at almost every moment of that game. Every time a girl in a wheelchair or boy with down syndrome put their arms up in celebration after making a shot. Every time the audience cheered at full volume when either team made a basket.

But what perhaps touched me the most was that these kids--the ones without special needs--were choosing to spend their time this way; to be on this team as opposed to one where they could have played to their full potential, showed no (or at least less) mercy, and perhaps gained some amount of notoriety around campus. Being on a high school campus at all reminded me of my own high school days, which, whether or not this fully came across in Schooled, I feel like I experienced in an almost constant state of selfishness. It's just the way teenagers are, I've rationalized. Only these kids weren't. And I was so impressed by their selflessness as they pushed wheelchairs and walked step for step with their more challenged teammates. I left feeling moved and inspired, and how many times do your interactions with teenagers have that effect? It's why I believe everyone who attends a unified league game knows instinctively that he has witnessed something truly special.

JAN
25

The LeBron James Bottle of Bubbly

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Something people might not know about me is that I love the NBA. I was able to take in two Cavaliers games this week, and I was reminiscing with my fellow game-goers last night about how wonderful the good years were. The Winning Years. Those couple of years when Cleveland had the best record in the NBA. I’d always had at the top of my bucket list that someday I wanted to be at a game 7 when my team won the championship. It seemed back then like it might be within the realm of possibility.

In my fridge you’ll find a long-expired bottle of bubbly, and it’s the same bottle I bought in the summer of 2010, the bottle I planned to drink when Lebron announced he would be staying in Cleveland. Obviously the bottle was never opened, and for some reason I’ve kept it in my fridge…I guess as some sort of reminder that things change. And that there are horribly inappropriate and ass-like ways to make announcements.

I confess that basketball will always seem a little bit worse to me now. I’ve despised Lebron since he left, which is why I was surprised last night to be flooded with such good memories of him and all the success he brought to this city. I guess no matter how things ended up, the point is that I’ll always have those memories, and they’ll always be good. I’ll always remember what winning so many games felt like, seeing amazing on almost every play, walking through the streets after a second-half comeback win against Boston in game 1 of the first round of playoffs chanting “MVP! MVP!” with a sea of Clevelanders. I’ll always have that. Of course, there’s still the bubbly, which can always be counted on to bring me back down to reality. But not everything is worth hanging onto. And maybe that bottle is one thing I can finally toss out.

JUN
10

Clash of the Titus

This little kid is so cute!! If you haven't seen the videos, watch them all...including the one with Gregg Marshall.

MAY
22

What's not to like??

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My cousin (the one from this story) texted me last night: "Another #1 pick for the cavs? Must be nice to have three of them in 9 years."

And you know what, it is. Cleveland deserves some loving, and nice is exactly how it feels to win a lottery of any kind.

Er.....except when you realize, as the Denver Post article stated, that the answer to the question of 'What's not to like?' is being in the lottery every year. Because you have to be pretty bad to even have a chance at nabbing the #1 pick. So maybe it's a lottery I wouldn't mind losing out on next year. As long as it doesn't go to Florida. Cleveland's already lost way too much to that state.

JUN
10

The Basketball Work Party

I recently switched departments at the office, and my new crew had just completed a project when I joined them. Based on selling a particular product line, the whole project was basketball themed, including weekly "MVPs" and "free throws" awarded to those individuals and teams who sold the most. I was immensely glad I hadn't actually been around to participate in the project when it was announced at the celebration/report-out (an afternoon and evening of games and food at a local park) that the teams would be shooting literal free-throws as a way to determine the ultimate project champions. Thank goodness I don't have to shoot is what I was thinking as we headed over to the basketball courts.

But one of the annoying things about Corporate America is this blasted emphasis on teamwork and team-building activities. I'm not saying we should be sequestered loners at work, but as an introverted person, I have it on good authority (so does Susan Cain) that you can get a lot more accomplished on your own than you can by participating in a mass brainstorming session. Yet, I digress. What this meant to my work posse that day on the court was that it was simply not OK that I was not on a team for this final shoot-out. How awful for Tali to be left out! Get Tali shooting the ball! Let Tali warm up!

I tried to gently explain to these people not only that I was perfectly fine not shooting and didn't feel left out at all, but also that me and basketball didn't have the greatest of relationships. "Have you read my book?" I asked the group, and those that had immediately began laughing at being reminded of my rather disastrous junior high try-outs. Let me emphasize that in this moment, about to shoot a slew of free-throws in front of tons of people, I had no amount of confidence that even one shot would be close enough to hit the rim. And the narration from one of my co-workers didn't help either, although it was in hindsight rather amusing. "Here she is, after a 17-year absence," the co-worker said quietly, sportscaster style, as I stepped up to the line. "For the first time since seventh grade. Tali Nay at the line." Or maybe I heard this all in my head.

Either way, I made a shot. Then I made another one. I managed to get our team tied with the team who was at that point in first place. "One more and your team takes the lead," the man keeping score said. My next shot went in, and everyone cheered. It's silly how glorious this moment was for me, although I did have to deal with several co-workers who wondered why I had initially protested when clearly my shooting abilities seemed intact. Of course, shooting was never my problem, so I could only repeat, "Have you read my book?" It should probably be required reading for anyone who knows me.

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TaliNayBooks Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. And bring watermelon. @sdzsafaripark #butterflyjungle #HappyEaster https://t.co/dgL68a5Lxs
TaliNayBooks When you get to the end of the @dadwroteaporno episodes and realize you’re waiting for the next one like everyone else.
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