Veteran big man Adonal Foyle has decided to call it a career, and in the grand scheme of the upcoming NBA landscape, this announcement means next to nothing. The guy literally didn't touch the court last season. For all intents and purposes, Foyle hasn't been basketball-relevant since the 2006 season with the Warriors, where he clinched his credentials as the franchise's all-time leader in shot blocks. He has, however, been relevant.
Foyle has served as first vice president of the NBA Player's Association, an organization we'll certainly be hearing plenty from as the current CBA inches closer to expiration. He was a key mentor to the young members of the Orlando Magic, and in particular, Dwight Howard, carving out a role vibrant enough for General Manager Otis Smith to label him the team's "most important" player. (Theo Ratliff will get more PT, but if he can be even half as good in a somewhat similar role with the Lakers, the franchise will benefit.) He's been politically and charitably active.
And from my particular perspective, Foyle maintained another form of relevancy. He has been a reminder of the intellect possessed --and often overlooked -- by many athletes. Granted, Foyle's example was somewhat extreme, considering how few people, much less jocks, have the words "Magna Cum Laude" attached to their resume. But many a "sportsman" (as Lamar Odom refers to athletes) has more swirling in their gray matter than credited, and Foyle's time in the NBA provided proof, albeit in the upper first percentile.
I don't know Foyle particularly well, and we've really only spoken on a handful of occasions. But the conversations, even those brief, never failed to remind me how intelligent and thoughtful the Colgate alum is. (No surprise, as that particular university is hardly a dummy factory.) During the 2009 Finals, he shared poignant thoughts on the value of Orlando's 100-75 Game 1 thumping at the hands of the Lakers. He also mentioned the books he was reading at the time, which made me feel illiterate by comparison.
Foyle is a poet, so it's only fitting he'd say goodbye to a 13-year career by channeling his inner-bard.
Love Song to a Game
How should I tell thee goodbye?
What can you say about a love affair
to rival that of Romeo & Juliet?
This is not just some melancholy ode
to a hackneyed love of mortals.
I found our love deep in the entrails
of the Caribbean Sea.
Love that swept me to a land
where our embrace became mythical.
You showed me a world
that few have dreamt of.
Colgate's golden steeple, a sojurn
where ancient teachings flooded my mind.
There in the Chenango Valley
where 13 sang my soul to flight,
basketball laid siege to my soul.
I do not cry for the passing of our love
for it stands radiant while my brittle bones
crumble through swift time.
I have known you by so many faces;
I will spend my end of days recalling.
You have infected so many with
the allure of riches and black gold.
But I am not angry with you my love.
For to a boy who was lost in the bosom of nothing
you gave hope and home.
Like the flickering of a light
we come and go without much fuss.
So I leave you to fend off seekers,
hoping they too will cherish
your unyielding countenance.
As for me,
I will forever live in the glare of your loving embrace.
From time to time I hope you will look in on this pitiful fool.
I will miss brothers of a quilt struggling with burning lights.
If I offer advice, pierce beyond the glaring lights
and see the faces behind the wall.
Don't be fooled by the magicians' nibble fingers.
For this is a life with mirrors and screens.
Its only truth lies in the understanding it will all end.
The sound I will take home
is the symphony of thousands of screaming friends.
Warriors, Magic and yes, Memphis too,
I sing you praise, hope, blessings,
Flowing from a boy's songs of thanks
to you and you and you,to all I knew.
Please stay my "immortal love."