Wooden Should Have Seen This

By T.J. Simers

Tomorrow will be the 7-Eleven Kid’s 17th birthday, the day my wife officially became a grandmother.

You can just imagine how old she is.

Ok, she’s the 7-Eleven Kid because 7-11 has the most consistent tasting coffee available, and I thought the stars just had to be in alignment to have her born on 7-11.

Her parents named her something or the other, while I renamed her Mary. For several years she disagreed, even crying as she yelled her name was really something or the other, and I would buy her pens, rulers and other cool things with the name “Mary” on them.

She would throw them back, so I bought things that could not be broken.

I call her now and she does not answer. I text her and she doesn’t read her texts. We’ve bonded like most adults and teenage girls.

I had two daughters so none of this is new.

She sat on John Wooden’s lap; he would have probably told her to take it to the hoop instead of shooting it from long range. We would have argued. Gosh, I miss that.

She’s going to be a high school senior, a year ago being named to the Prom court because the kids in school thought she was one of the cutest and most shallow girls they knew. She will fool you like that.

She’s brilliant, starting her own photography business and finding joy on the student council. She was her conference’s basketball offensive MVP and convinced her parents to give her a car nicer than her father’s.

Her father is the Grocery Store Bagger still. It’s a tough business, promotions slow to be awarded, and since this is the 7-Eleven Kid’s 17th birthday, I know he has remained married to my daughter for at least 17 years. I lost that bet.

Hollywood Park named a race after him, probably only a coincidence they then tore down the place. Wooden met him and he told me he had a problem with Bill Walton in the beginning, too, but Walton could dunk. I told Wooden how the Bagger’s forte was reaching the top shelf stock and he still wasn’t interested.

The Bagger has done a good job as a father because they live in Arizona, I live in California and can’t be there all the time. The 7-Elevin Kid acts as if she really loves the guy and every time she hits a three, he yells, “boom.” He has three more daughters in training, so boom, boom, boom it should be fun.

The 7-Eleven Kid was in Chicago Sunday for the Nike Championships and she hit eight threes and scored 30 in her second game of the day. Had 14 in the first one with four threes, and how I remember those 6 a.m. shooting drills to beat the Arizona heat.

Her mother had 10 threes in a game while in high school in California, the 7-Eleven Kid had 11 in a club game last month. That makes her better than her mother, and everyone in the family likes to tell her so.

We’ll have to wait until the end of her senior season to see if she will be the first between her mother and herself to play a hint of defense.

She’s probably not going to play in college. My loss, but really her gain. College athletics do not serve the college athlete very well save maybe an athletic scholarship and she’s not going to get one of those. It should be a time for fun, the college experience and college coaches are more concerned about their jobs than the student athlete.

OK, enough preaching, but I hope to live long enough to see what she becomes beyond the very best granddaughter. In time I actually believe there is a chance she will answer one of my calls.

We continue to go on shopping sprees together because like her mother she knows how to get into my wallet, and I blubber each time she gives me a homemade Christmas gift commemorating our time together.

I know how lucky I am.

3 thoughts on “Wooden Should Have Seen This

  1. Loved this one especially because I know how special Kenzie (Mary) is!! So happy to be able to read you again! I’m still your #1 groupie!

  2. T.J. you’re still an exceptional writer. Your love for your granddaughter shines through in your writing.
    Many of the great American writers come from Chicago, including you. I have always admired your honesty, unique sense of humor and tenacity in pursuing a story. Your perspective on life and on sports has never been boring. I hope you never stop writing.

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