After a lifetime of drinking Gatorade, buying Nikes, and tongue wagging, one MF editor finally got a chance to meet an icon.
Wait a minute...
Some people still have their hands raised. I'm holding my right elbow with my left hand, an old trick from my grade-school days. The idea is that my hand has been raised for so long that it's throbbing and needs to be held up.
Oh. My. God.
Michael looks me in the eye and says, "Go ahead."
"Michael, Brandon Guarneri, Men's Fitness magazine. You've always exuded a personal self-confidence, both on the court and in the boardroom. How important has that confidence been to your success?"
I can't believe I asked him that question.
Michael pauses, so everyone pauses. He thinks, so everyone thinks. For a brief moment, I think that he'll laugh off my question and chalk it up to "some kid." He doesn't. Instead, he launches into an incredibly thoughtful response on how playing hard in practice has translated to him working hard in business.
I do black out a bit at this point, though. Michael (we're clearly on a first-name basis now) continues to look me right in the eye while he speaks. I can barely remember my hometown at this point.
He must have answered the question because now people are removing folding chairs from our seating area. Apparently, other people are wheeling ball racks out.
Mike leaves, ushered by security, and we remain, to play basketball on the United Center Court. I'm still buzzing from my question, so this doesn't feel as amazing as it does looking back two weeks later.
By my own estimation, I've already shot approximately seven airballs, launch two jumpers that strike only the backboard, and it takes me no fewer than ten shots to hit a single free throw. I'm not a dud, either. I can play. Some kids played Little League, I played summer league. I'm just so emotionally charged from the event that I'm too overly excited to play well. I get over this pretty quickly.
Knock down my first three. Damn, it feels good.
Stroke another three-ball. Left-wing. All day, baby.
We're asked to put the balls back on the racks and leave the court. I do not have to be restrained and dragged off the court, although I briefly think about how awesome it would be to be arrested for such a thing. "Men's Fitness Writer Goes Berserk, Injures 15 in United Center Scrum."
We're back in the locker room. We take some more pictures. I slump into my cushy seat, remove my sneakers, and wonder if life can possibly get any better than this. I realize it can't, pack up my bag, and continue smiling for the next week and a half.