COSTCO — It might have been the organic edamame.
Or maybe the gluten-free bruschetta.
That might have been what I just dumped in the cart, before I first, ever so stealthily, checked my phone.
And I saw what was happening.
And what I was missing.
You see, as Bleacher Report's Lead Writer on the Miami Heat, I covered 50 of the team's first 56 games of this regular season, home and road, from a seat somewhere inside some arena.
Over the course of the past four years, since the Big Three first came together in 2010, I might have skipped 35 or 40, at most, of the Heat's roughly 400 contests, including the preseason and postseason. Including some contests that even the most obsessed hoops junkie could find no cause to recall.
But I chose to skip this one.
Actually, I heeded the sage advice of a friend and fellow married person—ESPN's Mike Wallace—who suggested I spend a little quality time with my pregnant wife, after a seven-city road trip and an exhausting house move, prior to another week-long road trip, and with our first baby just four months away.
"Don't forget," he texted early Monday afternoon. "No working tonight's game. Surprise Caro and take her to a movie. Those opportunities will be tougher to come by when little Ethanetta is born."
My wife had another, slightly less romantic, idea, when I shared the stunning news that I was staying home for a change.
She suggested we stock our new house at the nearby Costco.
I took stock of the situation and said yes.
Not because I'm Prince Charming. Because I knew the calendar. And I made a calculation.
Charlotte was in town. The Bobcats aren't especially interesting. It was a Monday in early March, prior to a trip with three more compelling contests—in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago—that I was scheduled to attend.
What could I possibly miss by skipping this one night?
And wouldn't I get more out of pleasing the Mrs.?
And so there we were, taking our membership photos as the ball tipped on another seemingly ordinary NBA night at AmericanAirlines Arena, one so highly anticipated that I expected a quarter of the lower bowl seats to remain empty into the second quarter.
And there we were, searching for cinnamon rolls and English muffins when LeBron James hit his first shot. And there we were, scooping up frozen bags of sweet potato fries and chicken spring rolls before finally, mercifully, heading for checkout. That's when I checked again and saw that James had 24 points at the half. While I was buying in bulk, he was scoring in bunches.
Then we were home.
And then, with every made three-pointer, until there were eight without a miss, it hit home.
I was missing history.
This is what the great ones do. They make you regret ever taking them for granted. It was Joe DiMaggio who told the Sporting News in 1951 that he played hard because, "there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best."
The truly gifted are capable, when giving their all, of showing the audience something they won't see from anyone else ever again. I am well aware of this, from my time covering sports' most compelling current team, featuring the most dynamic active athlete.
And still, I wasn't in the stands, or my regular arena seat, on this night.
I was packing my socks as James blew through 40, with half of the third quarter to spare. I was planted on the couch for his 50th point in a home game for the first time in his 11-season career, as he broke Glen Rice's 19-year-old team record of 56 points, as he gunned for 60 and got it, plus one.
I was picking at the scraps of the rotisserie chicken that we'd just picked up, as James reveled in his accomplishment, with his teammates, with the fans, with the world.
"I wouldn't want to do it in front of anyone else," James told Sun Sports sideline host Jason Jackson.
Twenty-five miles away, I tried not to take that too personally.
"I haven't really grasped what happened," James told reporters in front of his locker, a session that I watched from afar, rather than participating in the scrum.
By then, munching on a Milano cookie, I completely grasped what happened:
I missed LeBron James scoring 61 points on 33 shots, one of the most remarkably efficient basketball performances of this brief century, and perhaps even the prior one.
But hey, at least I won points at home. After all, we now had a sufficient supply of spring water to survive the next six hurricanes.
"It wasn't your idea," my wife said, smiling as she headed upstairs to bed. "Mike Wallace gave it to you. So it doesn't really count."
Well, there's always hoping it happens again in Houston.
I'll make sure to make my flight.
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