Thursday, February 12, 2009

More from Karl

There are a few things that really stick out when I think about Michael. Not in any particular order

Love of cars – racing autocross, bmws, “the countach”
Sports –fan and athlete
Competitive nature
Music – the 80s/ karaoke
Food – The bachelor pad refrigerator, Mcdonalds, Ollies, La Caridad

I will touch on some of these categories over the next few posts. Some will be shorter, and some longer but hopefully you all will get to know Mike the way I did.

Let’s talk sports:

Mike grew up in southern California which explains the cars and his love for all the LA based teams. One would naturally think that just meant the Lakers and the Dodgers but when Anaheim was in the World Series, Mike tried to convince me that it was okay to be a Dodger fan and an Anaheim Angel fan because that was also the home team for him. I didn’t buy it then and I still don’t but like most people in southern California, they leave in the 7th inning to beat the traffic and hop on any bandwagon that comes along.

As for the Lakers, Mike loved the championship years with Shaq and Kobe and I can’t really fault him for that. He also loved the leaner years with Eddie Jones, Ced Ceballos and Elden Campbell. Of course the man running that show was Nick Van Exel and Mike used to wear his #9 Laker jersey when we went out to the playground to shoot some hoops. I thought that Mike was pretty cool for wearing that jersey but if I remember correctly, he got it for cheap just after they traded him. Still respect him for it though. Like Van Exel, Mike liked to take it to the hole or shoot the three and not much of a mid-range shot in between. To his credit, he could do both and Mike was quick so he was pretty formidable on the court.

I remember a specific time during grad school when we played at the school gym. There were three guys already shooting around and one other guy who was just lacing up. Mike and I went up to the guy and asked him if we want to play 3 on 3 with the other guys. He agreed and plopped himself down to stretch before we got started. He asked us “don’t you guys stretch?” We both looked at him as if he were crazy and Mike said “stretch? we don’t stretch.” From then on, every time we played ball, it started with Mike saying “stretch” and me answering “we don’t stretch.”

We played a lot of basketball throughout the years and Mike certainly was a much flashier basketball player than me. He loved to shoot the three and show off his range but even more so, he loved to drive to the basket and do a behind the back layup. He would’ve dunked it if he could. Defense was often an afterthought and he was of the “a good offense is the best defense” school of thought. If you ever played basketball with Mike, one of the things he liked to do most is quote from the movie white men can’t jump. Mike’s basketball style was Wesley Snipes to my Woody Harrelson. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great movie as Mike will tell you. When we were teammates, occasionally we would lose and Mike would say to me “but you said we wuz going to sizzler!” - watch the movie –trust me it is funny.

I digress but Mike also loved Steven Seagal movies – I think it was the fact that Mike had a strong sense of justice and fairness and he liked the way Seagal dispensed justice. We were never really ones to exchange gifts but I remember when we were working together one year, it was his birthday and I happened to be in a video store and saw some Seagal movies. I figured he would like them so I bought him – Above the Law and Out for Justice (both three word titles). I think he was pleasantly surprised that I remembered his favorite action hero. While we’re talking movies – Mike also liked Top Gun, the Waterboy, Rush Hour and There’s Something about Mary. He also is one of the only people on the planet to never watch a star wars movie. This may have changed in the past few years but he never had much interest in sci-fi.

Mike loved to play and was passionate about it so much that I was almost shocked to find out that basketball was not his true love. Playing softball was his true passion. So much so that when I told him to move back to LA so we could hang out, he told me that he couldn’t leave his beloved diggers. I think secretly he was waiting to retire from the diggers (maybe in his 50s) before heading back west. I'll let others talk more about softball.

The next post will be about Mike’s competitive nature. Stay tuned.

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