I’ve never been super good at titles, and I’m trying to be looser and more expansive with what comes to mind. That’s my goal as a writer just now. I liked that title about Georgia O’Keefe and Dole Pineapple Juice, because it seemed such an oxymoron.
This title came to mind after I watched the first two games of the 2019 WNBA season this Memorial Day weekend, the second between last year’s champion Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury. For this, by the way, I have my weirdly expensive cable package: NBA TV is not a primo channel.
I never really coulda been a professional basketball player, even if the league had existed when I was just out of college, which it didn’t. I was a tomboy growing up, athletic and with a lot of endurance and a good utility player, but never had the raw talent to play anything professionally. I didn’t even play college basketball. The College of St. Elizabeth had kind of girlie sports: synchronized swimming, field hockey, a sedate form of volleyball. We did have a basketball team that played mostly a half court game, which is what women’s basketball was at the time. Nobody really ran the court, from basket to basket. I think I knew in my soul that half court was no serious basketball game at all.
If I could have been a professional basketball player, I’d have wanted the athletic grace of Candace Parker, the three point shot of Tina Thompson, the playmaking intelligence of Sue Bird. I’d have wanted the on-court aggression of Diana Taurasi, the grit of playmaker Lindsey Whelan, the speed and accuracy of Maya Moore. I’d have wanted the on-court dominance of Big Sylvia Fowles, the consistency of Tina Charles, the ability to drive to the basket of Elena Della Don. I’d have wanted the basketball gifts of Breanna Stewart, Stewie, the entire basketball star package. Stewie was one of Geno Auriemma’s long line of brilliant players at UConn, now with the Seattle Storm.
You probably don’t know who a single one of these women might be, but I do.
Is there anything you ever really wanted to be, even though there wasn’t the remotest chance?
Marlon Brando, in On the Waterfront. “I coulda been a contender.”
Not really. And yet…