4 Great Wins; 1 Remarkable Loss

4 Feb

Anyone that knew Jeff Klein knew that he was a huge basketball fan.

As several of the previous posts on this blog pointed out, Jeff, the avid Knicks fan and college basketball connoisseur, lived for the upsets of top teams by the underdog opponents.

When I tell people about him, there are a few traits of his which I almost never fail to mention. One of them is the way that Jeff would always text me with congratulations or condolences after my college team, the Providence College Friars earned a tremendous win (like this one) or suffered a crushing loss (like this one).

Now almost three months since his death, and I don’t think I’ve ever missed Jeff more than I did last week, when both the college and the professional basketball world saw several awesome upsets.

Last weekend, a large group of Jeff’s close friends took a trip up to the Berkshires. We all remarked on how it was the kind of weekend Jeff would’ve lived for – it was filled with great friends, good food and strong drinks.

But my favorite part of the weekend came Saturday night, when the unranked Providence Friars earned their first Big East win in almost a year –  an upset against then-#19 Louisville. It was the kind of win that didn’t impress the Duke friends in our crowd, but one that put me in a fantastic mood, not just for the rest of the night, but for the rest of the weekend.

But despite my elation over the impressive, much-needed win, I couldn’t help but think about how Jeff would’ve been right there with me, glued to the TV during the final minutes of the half – when it wasn’t yet clear if Louisville would ultimately fall short due to foul trouble and a ferocious Friar team – and how we would’ve celebrated with tequila shots before re-joining the rest of the party after the final seconds ran out and the underdog did, in fact, come out on top. As I told his father, it hurt to know that my night would end without my phone lighting up with one of Jeff’s congratulatory text messages.

the Jeff Klein memorial Knicks game, 11/23/2010

 

Two days after returning home from the Berkshires, a group of us headed to the Garden to catch a Monday night Knicks game. And wouldn’t you know – the orange and blue snapped a six game losing streak to beat the Washington Wizards. As Stoudemire made his way to the foul line to shoot a free throw in the final quarter, the Garden erupted in chants of “MVP! MVP!” – and I knew Jeff was cheering along from Heaven.

The New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards, 1/24/2011

And then, the very next night, Providence went on to defeat another Top 25 team as they took down #4 Villanova in intense fashion. It marked the first time since 1998 that the Friars earned back to back wins against ranked opponents. In all my glory, I thought of how Jeff would’ve appreciated this win almost as much as I did.

But the win that hurt most of all came last Thursday.

The New York Knicks took down LeBron James and the star-studded Miami Heat (An incredibly impressive win for the Knickerbockers, even considering Bosh didn’t play alongside James and Wade). I just know Jeff would’ve had plenty to say about the game and the barrage of game-saving 3-pointers that came in the final minutes – providing plenty of inspiration for a spirited post on his Talkin’ Sports blog.

Everyone loves a win, but when it comes to losses, there are some that are easier than others. It’s funny to think that before last November, I thought a buzzer beater loss at the Big East Tournament was one of the most heartbreaking things I had ever experienced. I know now that it’s not. It doesn’t even come close to the unimaginable pain we all felt upon Jeff’s death, and my heart breaks again each time one of these teams pulls off one of those unexpected, terrific moments in sports.

It is comforting to know, however, that Jeff can see all of it. If I had to venture a guess, I’d bet he even has something to do with it.

We all know Jeff would never stop rooting for his favorite teams. What’s more, he’d never stop rooting for his friends’ teams. Even now.

– Julie Parise

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2 Responses to “4 Great Wins; 1 Remarkable Loss”

  1. Rich Klein March 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Julie- Sorry to respond to this so long after the post, but I was reading it again today, and it is just beautiful. Jeff was always rooting for Providence, and at the time, I didn’t know you had gone there. When I finally asked him what the deal was with Providence, he told me he rooted for them because of you. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories and your heartfelt sentiments.

    Rich

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thanksgiving Eve & Other Reminders Of A Great Friend « Kleinsaucer - November 23, 2011

    […] wins. We all know that Jeff loved a good upset, and I’ve written previously about how I always appreciated Jeff’s support of my team, seemingly permanent underdogs, the Providence Friars. From now on, I will forever be convinced […]

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