As a sportswriter, I have covered some amazing teams: the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 1997 Washington State football team, the 1999 Gonzaga Bulldogs. All of these were superior to the 2009 edition of the Associated Pressers who took the field at the 20th annual Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
Yet somehow the Pressers also became a team of destiny. A fearsome foursome that posted a 5-2 record to finish second in the elite media division.
It was an amazing performance, put together by some amazing athletes: Josh Christian, Brian Herrin, Carey Williams and yours truly. Both our losses came at the hands of the champion 406ers, a team of television journalists and noted ringers from Missoula, Mont. I hate those guys.
The tournament plays out on the hot pavement of downtown Spokane, where some 26,000 hoops warriors battle for pride, honor and t-shirts.
I shall summarize the saga.
During a four-game marathon on Saturday, we opened play at 8 am by beating The Inlander, Spokane's free weekly, in overtime. That was followed by an overtime loss to the 406ers, a team with no players beyond their 20s. We recovered to easily pummel the Paperboys, representing both Spokane's daily newspaper and the sad state of print journalism today. Finally we laid waste to The Inlander again in a rematch (perhaps they should become a weakly instead of a weekly).
Sunday, in loser out play, we looked sharp in a win over the Eastern Washington University PR department (payback for those huge tuition increases). That put us in the championship game against the 406ers. We stunned those pretty boy golden throats with a narrow win. But it's a double elimination tournament so we had to play them again.
Playing our seventh game of the tournament, we had nothing in the tank and fell to these callow punks again. They hoisted the special media division trophy, which consists of a brick mounted on a pedestal, while the crowd (or at least our families) showered us with applause. The second place prize is a special runner-up t-shirt, and I immediately donned mine and spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the crowd, pointing it out to people I knew and didn't know.
The photo shows, from left, Carey, Josh, Brian and myself. Remember those names (mine is Nick, FYI). We'll be back.