Folks, I’ve been in this thing called the newspaper business for nearly 30 years (come the end of October, it will be 30), and I’ve had the chance to do a lot of interesting things.
At my various stops in Benton, Paducah and, of course, the Friendliest City in America, I’ve had opportunities to cover U.S. presidents, current and past sports legends, traveled to Washington, D.C. for a story and, yes, been on TV and not just to help with measuring light for a camera. No, I’ve actually been the person in the spotlight.
However, I am a little sad today. I’m sad because I’m not going to get a chance that newspaper people dream of. No, I wouldn’t have been on press row in Phoenix, Arizona for Game 7 in the NBA Finals tonight, but I was going to cover that game, had it happened, and put it on the front page of the paper I work for.
That’s right, we were going to hold our Friday edition tonight in order to put Game 7’s result on the front page. Why? Because Murray State University, our university, The Finest Place We Know, would’ve had one of its own trying to win an NBA championship.
Cameron Payne was a star guard here several years ago and his progress to become one of the most important players for the Phoenix Suns has been the subject of numerous stories by national outlets during the postseason. Now, he is the guy that goes on the floor to give future Hall of Famer Chris Paul a chance to rest for the Suns, and, at times, has delivered huge performances in that role.
But alas, with Tuesday’s loss to Milwaukee in Game 6, the series ended. And away went the chance to watch the TV like a hawk and follow every movement — especially the ones involving Cameron — and put together a story for our paper in Murray, Kentucky about Game 7, the pinnacle moment of any professional sports series, be it baseball, basketball or hockey.
Game 7 gets your heart pumping. Game 7 is where legends are born. Game 7 … is just simply where it’s at. And I was going to have a chance to bring it to you.
Why do I tell you this? Because I want you to know that we get it. I want you, our loyal readers, to know what kind of lengths we were willing to go to give you a paper that may have made history for this publication.
Twice, Murray State players have played for and won pro basketball titles. But if memory serves me correct, those occasions for “Jumping’ Joe Fulks and Dick Cunningham happened when we and other Murray papers were afternoon delivered, not morning. This would have been different.
We were going to put the Suns on notice that we would need shots of Cam sent to us that night so we could have an exclusive shot of him hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a big front-page spread with the head line … ‘“A racer becomes champion” or something to that effect. Kinda like Dr. Hook talking about the cover of the Rolling Stone, right?
“You can see it now, there he is, big picture with his face smiling …aw man, beautiful!”
Then the Bucks ruined it. No, I can’t put it that way. The Bucks just played great the final four games. And what can you say about Giannis? He was legendary. He deserves it and so does Milwaukee, who got its first title way back in 1971, when Cunningham played there.
Still, it makes you wonder what could’ve been. It’s great to think about, but it would’ve been amazing to have had the chance to actually do it. That’s what we were going to do tonight.
And I wanted you to know that.