<“Let every man shovel out his own snow and the whole city will be passable.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

One reason to live in Arizona: You don’t have to shovel snow!

When my family moved from Chicago to Phoenix back in the early 70s, my dad cited a lot of reasons for our pilgrimage west, but weather was at the top of the list. Any time a family member from back east would visit us in the summer months and complain about the heat, he would say “but you don’t have to shovel it!” In the midst of another January on the road with the Suns – this trip through the frozen tundra of Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Chicago – I am ever grateful that I didn’t have to be subjected to more of this growing up. Which begs the question: who, if they really have a choice, lives in this bitter cold?

Certain cold cities have a charm about them that can offset the bad weather. Chicago is a fantastic city with something for everyone: great museums, sports, nightlife, beaches, parks, etc. Minneapolis is a real gem, a melting pot of cultures and beautiful architecture – and one of the best local music scenes in the country. New York has a tangible energy and almost a life of it’s own. I can see why people are drawn to Manhattan – I wouldn’t want to live there, but I can understand the attraction. Toronto is another great cold weather NBA stop – and certainly the cleanest big city I’ve ever been to. I think there’s a provincial ordinance that mandates the cleanliness of pigeons. Denver has more going on in and around the downtown area than most cities – not to mention some of the world’s best skiing during winter months.

So I get why people want to live in these places. But Milwaukee? Cleveland? Buffalo (not a current NBA city, but was one and if you’ve ever been there in February you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about)??? When I see anyone over the age of 22 living in these cities I think back to my high school basketball days at Seton Catholic in Chandler. When I played at Seton, it wasn’t a 4A athletic powerhouse that it is today. We were a small 2A school whose conference opponents were what we called “crossroads” schools. Wherever 2 roads crossed, they built a school. We traveled once a year to the exotic locales of Ajo, Sells, Gila Bend, Maricopa, Welton and San Pasqual (outside of Yuma.) Not exactly a four-star tour of Arizona. Several times during my senior season, we’d stop at a gas station or fast food place in one of these little towns and I’d recognize someone behind the counter – someone I’d guarded the year before. They never made it out of these little communities for the same reason people still live in Buffalo. They don’t know how to leave.

From a TV perspective, the cold weather cities can be a nightmare. Some of the coldest places (Boston, New York, Milwaukee) don’t have indoor parking for the mobile production trucks that we use to broadcast our games. We’re out in the snow, freezing rain and mud – trying to concentrate on something other than our feet being numb. Once we leave after a game and our crew has to “strike” the equipment, they spend a good hour wrapping up cables in the dirty snow and loading cameras and other gear into the truck. It’s a mess.

Travel in this weather is no treat, either. Flights are often bumpy and landings rough. A few years ago, our plane sat on the runway in Toronto for over 6 hours while we waited for clearance to land at either of the big Chicago airports. The wings were de-iced twice and we never got to the Windy City. Instead we flew to Milwaukee and took a bus to Chicago the next morning when some of the snow had stopped. Last night’s flight out of Milwaukee was fine, but only because Steve Nash was so hot he melted all the snow on the plane and runway. 15 points in the last 6:49? Are you kidding me? One fan at the Bradley Center had a sign that said “Nash / Obama ‘08” After seeing Steve’s popularity across the country over the last 3½ seasons, I have no doubt they’d win in a landslide.

Enjoy your 68 degree day . . . the high in Minneapolis today is 1.