Jim Left Early

I'm a diehard Rutgers men's basketball fan, and have had season tickets for the last 20 years.  The last time the team really made a splash was in 1976 when they reached the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.  The team made appearances the next two years after that, and a fluky one-and-done performance in 1991.  So essentially, the team has been wandering around in the basketball desert almost as long as Moses did in the Sinai.  I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year, but there's been a lot of pain here for me, especially having U Conn and Syracuse alumni for neighbors.  U Conn and 'Cuse have been traditional powers in the Big East League, and have been wiping their feet on the Rutgers doormat, with a few exceptions, since I bought my first ticket.

The games are fun from the standpoint of seeing great talent on the other teams, even though they're showing us how it's done.  This past year has been especially fun. We have a new coach whose passion and intensity are contagious for the players and the fans.  I'm hoping this next year he has figured out that he can't yell at the referees like he yells at his players.  We'll win more close games, and he'll live longer.

The fans around us in our section have developed a mutual suffering society.  We know about our families, and other things beyond as well as on the basketball court.  Jim, who sits in the row in front of me, has been coming to games almost as long as Genna and I.  He usually comes early, with a jumbo size popcorn, just like yours truly.  I thought, what's not to like about this guy!  The only thing about Jim is that whether we're winning or losing, at three or so minutes left in the game, he's heading for the exit.  This has been going on for years.

"Jim", I said, " one of these games, you're going to be sorry."

"I don't want to be stuck in the parking lot," he said.

As I reminded him countless times before of his impending sorrow, I did the same when the Villanova wildcats were up 13 points with about 3 minutes left in a game this past season.

Rutgers won the game on a four point play with .9 seconds left, one of the more exciting games in college basketball history.

I don't care where you may be reading this elsewhere in the country, if you are a sports fan, you saw the end of this game live, or immediately after, on ESPN.

Except Jim, who had left the parking lot, but was stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike.

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