The NBA Finals: This jacket is the real MVP

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With apologies to Andre Iguodala (and Quentin Tarantino), the night the Warriors won their first title since 1975, this is how I tucked my son in after the Warriors’ 105-97 NBA Finals-clinching victory.

By Andrew Pridgen

Hello, little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you.

See, I’m your dad.

I was in that pit of hell called being a Warriors fan for 40 years.

Forty years. I know that’s hard for you to understand, but that’s the entirety of my life. My whole life.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience this yourself, but when fans are in a situation like that, for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other.

If it had been me who had not made it, perhaps another long-suffering Warrior fan would be talking right now to you. But the way it turned out it’s just me.

I’ve got somethin’ for you.

This jacket.

This jacket I got here was first purchased by your grandmother during the 1989 recession. It was bought for $89.99 at a little baseball card shop called the Fan Stand in San Rafael, California. Made by the first company to ever make satin jackets with team logos.

Up till then people just wore jackets to protect themselves from weather. From rain. From the cold.

It was bought by your grandmother the day before your father, me, was set to start high school.

When I started high school at a place called San Marin, I was proudest of the jacket. It shined like the sun. If it was attached to some kind of conduit, it could have powered the whole student center on campus.

But on the first day, I was locked in a locker room cage by the seniors and pelted with water balloons. Some filled with just water. Some filled with other…stuff. One after another. I cried. My tears streaked and stained this jacket’s shoulders. It no longer shone like the sun. Back then they called it a right of passage. Now they call it hazing or bullying.

Your dad survived and was stronger for it. You may learn a similar lesson someday but hopefully not while wearing powder blue satin.

This jacket.

This jacket stayed in the closet until I was to leave for college. I brought it for good luck.

My luck was better and at once worse than the jacket’s. It cleaned up a puddle of puke and bile and excrement on your dad’s 21st birthday. Shortly after, it was stolen by a vagrant—a bum—from an office chair in the back of a strip club called the Silver Dollar.

The jacket, this jacket, was gone forever.

Forever only meant two weeks as I, your father, literally stumbled on the way to the bars over the same bum using the jacket as a pillow on the streets of Eugene, Oregon.

Your father re-stole his jacket…this jacket…from a transient.

After graduation, I stored this jacket at your grandfather’s house. He hung it on his coat rack. He would drink Wild Turkey and 7 out of a plastic tumbler and smoked in it.

This jacket was never…intended…to be a smoking jacket—but it’s been smoked in. It’s been smoked in a lot.

There’s a cigarette burn from your grandfather near the left pocket of this jacket. He must’ve spilled his drink on it a time or two too. At least, I hope that’s what that spot is.

This jacket.

I snowboarded for the first time in this jacket. Me. Your father. The guy who’s going to teach you how to ski wore jeans and this jacket and a backwards hat…dressed like he was going to Taco Bell lunch on a Thursday. I wore that Gaper get-up and snowboarded in this jacket—all buttons undone, billowing like the main sail on an Old Spice bottle—down a groomer like I knew what the fuck I was doing.

A decade later, three days before I moved to Lake Tahoe, I packed this jacket. I was newly single and wanted to gamble and ski and run on trails. And this jacket was going to do all those things with me.

This jacket got kicked out of three North Lake Tahoe casinos in one night. That same night, this jacket was worn inside out, the yellow lining not conspicuous at all, a disguise to get back into the last casino. They weren’t fooled.

This jacket was thrown in a gutter full of the foulest melted snow and car exhaust and sadness you’ve ever seen by a pit boss at the Tahoe Biltmore. Without a shred of dignity left or a nickel in my pocket, I picked up this jacket, wrung it out with my frostbitten, blistered and bare hands, put it on and marched right back in to dine-and-dash on $1.99 breakfast.

This jacket.

This jacket has been my sleeping bag. My comforter. My lover. My protector.

…My only friend.

The way I look at it, this jacket is your birthright. Your mother won’t let me bring it in the house but I’ll be damned if she’s going to give it to Goodwill or put it in the garage sale pile after a quarter century.

So I’ve hid it.

I’ve hid it in a place she never looks. Five, ten, twenty long years, this jacket will remain in a place so dark and decrepit, she won’t ever discover it.

This jacket.

This jacket was taken out of its dark place this week. It was celebrated tonight. A quarter century it has waited. Every year it has stood vigil—alone in darkness—like a prisoner of war. It has been rescued from the backs of vagrants, the bottom of the Kirkland boxer stack in my mother’s Salvation Army takeaway heap. It has been thrown in the ocean, in the moat surrounding Treasure Island in Vegas and in an old logging flume called the Mill Race. Born and baptized and reborn again, and then again. This jacket.

And now, little man, on this night of victory— I give this jacket to you.

 

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  1. Great story man, congrats to the Warriors. They remind me of the Pistons teams with Billups, just a good team with lots of role players who know their job. Hopefully they and your coat are around for a while.