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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
One-on-one with dad

By Henry Abbott

Kate Fagan is a former Sixers beat writer, University of Colorado player, and professional in the Irish league. She begins a new job writing for ESPN.com and ESPNW.com today.

She has a new year's resolution to find more time to play basketball with her dad. Growing up, she did that every day. She tells a beautiful tale, on her website ByKateFagan.com, of a memorable game from back when she left for college. She lost. In anger, she kicked his Oakley shades:
When my dad talks about this moment, he does so with something akin to pride: I cared so much about the game -- he’d just beaten me in a best-of-five series of 1 on 1 -- that I felt compelled to attack a piece of expensive plastic. He was never angry, not even in the seconds after I kicked them, because he was doing one of the things he loves most: playing basketball with me. I imagine that for him feigning anger would have been difficult in that moment: a well-earned sweat dripping from his brow, the memory of dozens of falling jumpers fresh in his mind.

He’d have to buy a new pair of Oakley sunglasses -- so what? That was a cheap admission fee to hoops’ Utopia.

I walked along the baseline and collected the various pieces. One had gone onto the neighboring court and I excused myself to those playing on it, scampering into the lane to retrieve a tinted, curved lens. I walked back to our baseline, the plastic remains in my upturned palm like a dismembered G.I. Joe. I sunk down next to him, our backs against the gym’s padded wall.

“I’m sorry,” I said, gently trying to reinsert the lens into the frame.

“It’s OK,” he said. He smiled and gestured at the lens in my hand, “Don’t worry about it.”

“But I think maybe I can fix them,” I said. I examined the dislodged arm: the tiny screw, the one that would reconnect the arm to the frame, was missing. I scanned the court, but the screw was the size of a Tic Tac and the gym the size of an airplane hangar.

“I think I’d rather they stay broken,” he said finally.