Today really really stunk.
You can substitute any word in Roget's Thesaurus for stunk that you want. They all applied. Indeed it was that bad.
By the time I got home this evening, it seemed like the best part of the day was that the Christmas tree fell over. That was the highlight. Listing the events of the day in order from bad to worse, the Christmas tree crashing to the ground, that was the highlight.
And yet the day wasn't over. I still had my wife's 25th birthday to celebrate and a doubleheader of my favorite sports team of all time Mt. St. Mary's, against Pittsburgh. That to be followed by my alma mater, the Syracuse Orange, in the World's Most Famous Arena, against the most exceptional basketball rival from my four years on campus the UCONN Huskies in the nightcap of the Annual Jimmy V Classic.
My father was here to watch his alma mater with me. That helped to start to make the day better.
But it really lacked clarity and perspective until about 20 minutes or so after 8 o'clock. At that time, despite some flashes of brilliance the young Mountaineers, like 12 freshmen on the roster young, trailed an ACC member, yet somewhat mediocre, Pitt team by 15 points.
And this team that really wasn't having a great night did something about it. They kept playing. They kept battling. They kept fighting.
Many of you know, I've been doing that for four years or so since I was diagnosed with the rare disease Sarcoidosis. I didn't do a lot of it today. There were times today when all the decisive moments I've had along a path to recovery and a sense of normalcy in my life seemed very distant.
But as I watched this group of kids places one foot in front of the other, precisely as they have since Day one of the season, I was inspired. I was inspired to continue along my path. Inspired to make tomorrow a bit better than today. And beyond that, I was inspired to make today great. There was still time on the clock today.
The Mount even had enough time left for enough three-point bombs to fall straight through and for the best unknown player in the country to rally the team from 15 down on the road at a Power 5 conference team, no matter how bad the whistle, continued to scratch and claw to force overtime.
Junior Robinson is nothing if he isn't inspirational.
I'd like to pay the player the respect he deserves and fail to mention his height. Because on the basketball court his height does not matter. Many people time and time again have told him it did. Or that sometimes it would. They told him he couldn't achieve his dream to be a basketball player. He ignored them. He's a not only a basketball player. He's a great basketball player. The leading scorer in a Division I basketball team trying to get back to the most magnificent sporting event of all, the NCAA Tournament, where it won a game a year ago.
All 5-feet and 5-inches of Junior Robinson entered the game at Pittsburgh as the 16th leading scorer in the country. He left with a higher average than he began with. The 24-point 9-assist masterpiece was spectacular. Much of it brought the Mount back from that 15-point deficit. Many other teams would have folded. In the end, the volume of those whistles became insurmountable, and the shots stopped falling, and Pitt survived.
Still, the game and the effort had provided for me. It had put me back on task, showed me exactly what I needed. I just didn't quite know it all yet.
The Jimmy V Classic happens every year. They play a pair of basketball games at Madison Square Garden. The teams are good, the matchups are marquee, but the event isn't about the games. It's about the message. A message that Jimmy V first delivered at the ESPY's in 1993.
I watch the inspirational speech often. At times, I've got the video on what seems like a constant loop.
Tonight before the Syracuse UCONN tipoff seemed like the right time to hit play.
Nothing changed in Jimmy V's speech. The same words I've listened to countless times before. Yet somehow, I always hear something new, focus on something different. Tonight I couldn't get past Jimmy V's opening plea, where he told us all that every day of our life, "We should laugh, we should think, and we should have our emotions moved to tears."
It all of a sudden hit me. I was privileged enough to have done all of those things today. Many weren't that fortunate. I was. Actually, I did all of that more than once.
Today was good.
Today was really really good.
(Nothing that happens in the next 7 and a half minutes from Madison Square Garden can change that)