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Posted by Paul Shirley: March 22, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

I have been known to do my fair share of complaining. Sometimes, like when I am stuck in a frozen outpost like Kazan, Russia for two months, it is warranted. Most of the time, though, my complaints are about as necessary as mammary glands on male swine, as the expression (sort of) goes. This is one of those times.

Exactly one year ago today, I was in a hospital bed, beginning the long, slow recovery from the lacerated spleen and fractured kidney that had resulted from an Austin Croshere knee the night before. I was playing for the Chicago Bulls at the time. Because the Bulls were really bad, they were desperate for anyone who even looked like they remotely cared about winning, with a need for a high talent level taking a back seat. I fit that bill, so was actually playing quite a bit. Toward the end of the night in question, with us down by approximately 30 in Indiana, I, thinking I needed to continue to show my enthusiasm for the team’s cause, hustled across the lane to try to take a charge from a driving Croshere. The result was the aforementioned scrambling of my insides, a nine-day hospital stay, and a five-month moratorium on almost all activity. I gathered that I was relatively lucky that I did not need either organ removed.

Austin Croshere is a player Paul Shirley is sure to remember for a long time.
(NBAE Photos) Contrast that with my current situation. I play for (I use the term loosely; play for/cheer for—same thing) arguably the best basketball team in the world. My responsibilities include: 1. Showing up for buses, practices, games, etc. on time. 2. Refraining from causing undue stress to anyone by misbehaving on road trips or wading into the stands to attack fans. 3. Practicing hard when given the opportunity. 4. Entering games when my team is up by an insurmountable margin and attempting to break the shots-per-minute record. It is not a difficult job, really, and I can find very little to complain about, especially tonight.

Earlier this evening, I met a friend of mine from college for dinner. Upon our arrival, we decided that neither of us was particularly hungry, so ordered some iced tea and an appetizer with intentions of a lazy discussion of nothing in particular. After an hour or so, our waitress noticed that I was wearing an Interpol T-shirt (the band, not the international crime-fighting organization). She remarked, with a point in the direction of my shirt, “Hey, do y’all know that they are playing here in Atlanta tonight?” Interpol could very well be the second-best band in the world right now (the first being an outfit fronted by a man named Maynard), so my interest was piqued.

In a part of my life I would rather forget, I would most likely have passed on the Interpol concert tonight. I would have overanalyzed the situation and thought to myself, “Well, the Hawks are pretty bad, so there’s a good chance you’ll get to play some tomorrow. Is a concert that may keep you out a little late worth jeopardizing that opportunity?” The answer probably would have been, “No, it is not worth it.” Fortunately, I no longer live by those rules. Instead, I now take a more Zorba the Greek-like approach, which is that life is way too short to pass up such opportunities.

I checked the situation with my brother via cell phone. He confirmed that the fuzzed-out rock kings of New York were in Atlanta, would be playing at a place called The Tabernacle, and were, of course, sold out. Unfazed, we paid our bill at the restaurant, thanked our waitress for the timely information, and hustled out. We had gathered that the show started at 8:00 p.m. It was 7:30. We realized that our lack of guaranteed entry did present something of a problem; when we left I put our chances of finding a scalper at 40%.

Thankfully, our hotel was close to the venue. We were there by 7:45 and had been assailed with a, “You all need tickets?” by 7:48. I hustled over and, given an opening bid of $120 for two, quickly countered with, “How about $100?” Face value was $23 each, but the show was sold out, and I was in no mood for haggling with events about to commence. He quickly accepted my offer, in his mind mocking me for being such a sucker, I am sure. We snatched up our goods and headed for the door. Shockingly, our tickets passed the scanner’s muster. (I was moderately concerned that we had been sold fake tickets. Even though our world is filled with nothing but trustworthy, responsible citizens, apparently sometimes people have the nerve to pass off things like fake concert tickets as the real thing. It is shocking, I know.) We were in. Interpol was great. The opener, Blonde Redhead, was only fair. But I am not complaining. As the night wound down, I realized what a great life it is I lead. It would stand alone, of course, but because of my recent reflection on my plight last year at this time, it seems all the sweeter. Now all I have to do is hope the ringing in my ears subsides before someone expects me to catch my balance and make a jump shot tomorrow. But, even if that does not happen, and I am a complete disaster on the court, it was worth it.

This guy is too much. He might not play but he is really good at writing and his writings are pretty damn interesting. I never thought I would say this but GREAT JOB PAUL SHIRLEY!!! :greatjob: :laugh:
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