From the Sideline — There’s No Place Like Home
I’ve been fortunate enough to broadcast from many of the great college basketball venues in America.
My first game ever as the play-by-play announcer for Alabama Basketball took place at Madison Square Garden. Since then, I’ve had the privilege to work in historic buildings such as Rupp Arena and Pauley Pavillion, as well as places that double as NBA homes – from Dallas to Boston.
My job has taken me places I never thought I’d see - from Maui, to Anchorage, to St. Thomas.
Basketball has given me the chance to travel beyond anything I’d ever imagined.
And yet, Dorothy was right...There’s no place like home.
When I was a child, my Dad was a supervisor for the ushers that worked at both Legion Field and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. On occasion, he was able to get me a ticket for the various events held at both.
Besides college and pro football games at the “Old Gray Lady on Graymont”, there’s no telling how many hockey games (the original Birmingham Bulls), ice shows, and circuses I’ve seen over the years at the BJCC. But my favorite memories are easily of the basketball games I’ve witnessed there.
On more than one occasion, my parents allowed me to skip school to watch the SEC Tournament. Long before I got to know Wimp Sanderson, I saw him coach the Tide in the NCAA Tournament at the BJCC.
And there was nothing quite like starting Iron Bowl weekend, by pulling against Auburn on a Friday night, when UAB would annually face the Tigers.
That’s why Monday night's Vulcan Classic between Alabama and Oregon was so special for me.
I know that the Legacy Arena (as it is now known), is well past it’s prime. It’s a nice building, but I will easily work in a dozen places that are nicer and more modern between now and the end of the season.
But it was really cool to take my own son there. To have him with me at “work”. To walk some of those same halls that I walked with my father. To watch my boy get some shots up on the floor, before the big guys took the stage.
And yes, to call an Alabama game myself, with a great crowd and a great matchup, was very very special.
It’s not The Garden, but the BJCC is still home. And home, for the holidays, is a great place to be.