What Men Are Starving For

OSU’s Joe Roberts (#14) circa 1960

This post isn’t about basketball, or how OSU’s national champs–Jerry Lucas, Larry Siegfried, John Havlicek, Mel Nowell, Joe Roberts–had stellar careers.  In fact, this blog has nothing to do with athletics at all.

While reading  Bob Greene‘s article about these champions, I was reminded of the time I met them.

Ten years ago, ESPN Classic came to Columbus, Ohio to do a feature on this team, and yours truly was hired to do sound.

As I listened to the session via my headphones, I became bored by the A-typical questions being asked.  But then the young producer asked something a bit more probing.

“If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?”

I tried not to snicker (after all, I was holding the boom mic!) because the question, I thought, was trite.  After all, these men had not only won a national title, but had great pro careers.  In fact, Jerry Lucas was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame!  And true to my sardonic expectations, the men graciously answered that they’d do nothing differently.

Except for Joe Roberts.

Joe reflected and then said something to the effect of: “While at OSU, Jerry and John invited me to join them hunting or fishing.  I always turned them down because I didn’t hunt.  But now I get it.  It wasn’t about the hunting or the fishing.  It was about being together.  So if I could go back, that’s what I’d change.  I would have gone.”

I’ll never forget their expressions after that.  Respect.  Honor.  Brotherhood.  It was electric!  In fact, I wanted to drop my boom and join their team, and I don’t even play basketball!  Why?  Because they had something most men are starving for and don’t even know it.

Undying friendships.

Like Joe, I too turned down invites from guys to go hunting or take in sporting events.  I felt they were trying to be too macho or I sighted my dislike for such activities based upon my artistic bent.  But in looking back with “I get it” vision, I see that I really missed out, and what I labeled as macho was my insecurity, and what I deemed creative sensitivity was nothing more than my arrogant pride.

Fortunately, I began realizing such squander prior to this ESPN shoot, and began to try and change.  It wasn’t easy.  I’m by nature an introvert and get energized being alone, so this meant going against my comfort zone.  So when I moved to Nashville, I began applying this in my pro bass career.

Retired and some twenty years late, people still ask if I miss touring.  After all, painting houses isn’t as prestigious, or so they think.  I pause, reflect and then smile.  The venues, the TV shows, the crowds are all but a blur.  But sharing life together on the road with my friends looms forever.  I can still see their faces, hear their laughs, and recall the practical jokes, and there were many!  But most of all, I remember how we’d rally together when the weight of missing our families was too much to bear alone.

I sure do miss those guys.