9.23.2016

Kevin McHale Speaks from the Gut



“There’s something special about being a Celtic,” he said. “At the end of the day, when I see people, that’s who I am. I’m Kevin McHale who played for the Boston Celtics. And that supersedes Kevin McHale from Hibbing High School, Kevin McHale from the University of Minnesota, Kevin McHale the father, Kevin McHale the husband, Kevin McHale the whatever.

Wow.

I'm sure there are some fans out there who think to themselves, "well, duh."

I'm not one of them.

Sure, Kevin McHale isn't alone.

He stands near the end of a long line of athletes who are largely remembered for having played a sport for a particular professional team.

Then again, what he said is quite profound.




Bill Russell still talks about the importance of his relationship with his father, who passed some time ago. So in Russell's eyes, he's still a son, and to him it's that parent-child relationship that never dies. I recently lost my mother, after having lost my father in 1996. I feel blessed to have had them both as parents. Ditto for my two children. To paraphrase Randy Pausch from the Last Lecture, I managed to hit the lottery three times, once with my parents and twice as a parent.

Kevin McHale, if you know much about him, is a Big Family Man. He once violated league rules to be with his family on Christmas morning. After retirement, he returned home to Minnesota so he could be closer to his family. During his playing days, McHale wore his perspective on his sleeve. You have to remember, McHale was fond of saying, all we are doing is playing a game.

So for him to acknowledge that his role as father, his role as son, his role as husband, and his roles as high school and college basketball star playing for his home town and home state now takes a back seat to his time in Boston is worthy of our attention.

Then again, Lurch was always a realist, and once you've entered the Hall of Fame and played on arguably the best team in history, your role as athlete, no matter how trivial it may seem in the big picture, is what makes you immortal. It's what secures you a permanent place in the Pantheon.

So, yes, Kevin, you will always be the Kevin McHale who played for the Boston Celtics.

It's now part of your DNA.

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