Monthly Archives: November 2013

Remembering a failed interview with the X-Man

Here's Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)
Here’s Xavier McDaniel in a Seattle promotional poster. The dog was not with him at the interview :)

 

Xavier McDaniel will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame tonight. This brings back memories of my first summer in Wichita, Kansas … and having the NBA player basically kick me out of his gym.

I moved to Wichita for the summer of 1992 to take on a sports reporting internship at the Wichita Eagle newspaper. I covered a little of everything that summer – minor league baseball, the annual NBC amateur baseball tournament held in Wichita every year, professional tennis {Martina Navratilova was on a visiting team}, horseshoes {not kidding}, auto racing, motocross racing and a lot of youth sports. Then there was the time I was asked to interview Xavier McDaniel; it was one of my first assignments of the internship.

The assignment: localize a national wire story about the one-year anniversary of Magic Johnson announcing he was retiring from basketball because he had the HIV virus. NBA player Xavier McDaniel was in Wichita conducting a youth basketball camp, so my job was to go ask him how Magic’s announcement had changed the league.

I’d heard of him — known as X or the X-Man — but I didn’t know much more than he was an NBA player. There was no Google in 1992, so I did a quick search of the newspaper’s archives before heading out to interview him. Turns out he’d played college ball at Wichita State University in the early 1980s, where he became the first collegiate player in history to lead the nation in both scoring (27.2 points per game) and rebounding (14.8 rebounds per game) in the same season. He was drafted fourth overall in 1985 by the Seattle Supersonics, which was the team I remembered him playing for, and lost the Rookie of the Year award to Patrick Ewing.

Some of the archives and/or stories shared by my fellow Eagle reporters also pointed to some anger issues that had gotten some publicity over the years. To say I was a little intimidated walking into a high school gym to ask the X-Man about the risk of HIV and its effect on the sex lives of pro basketball players would be an understatement!

I was 20 years old and this guy was 6-foot-7, 220 pounds PLUS his baldness gave him an even more menacing look. I mean, the guy was known for his intensity!

It might have been the world’s shortest interview, and I recall it went something like this:

Me: So we are running an article about whether Magic Johnson’s announcement has changed the behavior of pro athletes over the past year.

X: OK, so what’s your question?

Me: Um, well … has Magic Johnson’s announcement that he has HIV changed your behavior, or that of your teammates?

X: You want me to tell you if it’s changed who I sleep with? No way, I’m not telling you what me or my teammates do personally. You’re crazy.

His words were a little loud, not yelling but … intense :) It was clear that the interview was over.

Looking back, I don’t blame X for his reaction. I think I’d be able to approach the topic differently now that I’m a little older and wiser, and I’d get a few usable sentences out of him!

So there you have it, my brush with a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Sometime I will tell you about Norm Stewart yelling at me on the phone and hanging up on me, or how friendly Martina was not.

Posted in Randomness, Sports, Weird shit that happens, Work

Getting to know me — a Kansas Women Bloggers assignment

Kansas Women Bloggers is having a link party and this is my contribution. The instructions were to write a post on my blog answering the questions below so members of Kansas Women Bloggers could get to know each other.

Getting to Know You Link Party with the Kansas Women Bloggers

1. If you make money with your blog, how do you do it?

I currently do not use this blog to make money, it’s a creative outlet. I have a writing and photography portfolio site that I run on a blog platform, and that is an indirect way to boost my earnings as a writer and photographer.

2. How do you increase your blog readership?

I share my blog posts via Facebook. I need to be more consistent about sharing posts via Twitter. I also join communities like Kansas Women Bloggers and TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange).

3. If you aren’t originally from Kansas, what brought you here?

I moved from my home state of Missouri to Kansas in December 1994 for a reporting job at The Wichita Eagle. I thought I’d be here a couple of years. If you’re any good at math, you’ll see that something went amiss with that plan. Got married, had good luck with jobs, blah blah blah.

4. If you are from Kansas, have you ever lived elsewhere?

Not applicable

5. If someone were to hand you $10,000 (no strings attached), what would you do with it?

I would use it to splurge on an upcoming trip or two. We tend to choose moderate options when traveling and it would be fun to get a little luxurious in our choices.

And for a good deed portion of this found money, I’d donate enough money to the Sedgwick County Zoo to name one of the tigers there Truman (the name of the University of Missouri mascot, in honor of Harry S. Truman).

6. Who was the first blogger you ever really followed?

The Bloggess 

7. What’s your favorite pair of shoes?

Hiking shoes … because if I have them on, that means I’m on a trip and that makes me very happy.

Here we are at the Fire Wave in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park.

Me and my favorite shoes in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park

~~~

I also covered some general “who are you” stuff in my very first blog post in December 2012.

 

Posted in Randomness

Go see the Amur tiger cubs at Wichita’s zoo

Four-month-old Amur tiger Natasha, with her mom Talali in the background at Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo.

Four-month-old Amur tiger Natasha with her mom, Talali, in the background at Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo.

 

I cheered when I heard that a tiger at our local zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoo, had given birth to two cubs this summer. More tigers in the state of Kansas is always a good thing for this Mizzou grad!

But it’s not just my collegiate loyalty coming through — who doesn’t love the chance to see tiger cubs! The cubs were born to 8-year-old Talali on July 6 of this year and they were introduced to the public in late September. Lee and I finally made it out to see them this past weekend. The female is named Natasha and the male is Tsar. Natasha was very active on the day we were there — she climbed around on her mom, play-attacked her brother, climbed on a tree and she wasn’t shy about coming up to the window of the exhibit. Tsar stayed toward the back of the exhibit while we were there. It was fun to watch him practice his ferocious hissing, although he might not have been practicing — he had a noticeable limp when we saw him walking and the keeper said it’s from roughhousing with his sister.

Get out and see the babies while they are still little balls of fur — the zoo is open throughout the winter and Amur tigers are a species native to Russia, so they should be on display even as the weather gets colder.

Here are a few favorites of the tiger photos I took on our visit:

 

Mother and female cub, waiting near the door in anticipation of attention from the zookeepers

Mother and female cub, waiting near the door in anticipation of attention from the zookeepers.

Who is watching whom? Female Tiger cub checking out her visitors.

Who is watching whom? Female tiger cub checking out her visitors.

Natasha, the female Amur Tiger born on July 6, 2013, at four months old.

Natasha, the female Amur tiger born on July 6, 2013, photographed here at four months old.

Natasha, the female Amur Tiger cub at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Natasha, the female Amur tiger cub at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Look how cute the back of her ears are!

Look how cute the back of her ears are!

Tsar, the male Amur tiger cub, stayed toward the back of the exhibit on the day we were visiting Tiger Trek at Sedgwick County Zoo.

Tsar, the male Amur tiger cub, stayed toward the back of the exhibit on the day we were visiting Tiger Trek at Sedgwick County Zoo.

We couldn't hear him, but 4-month-old Tsar seemed to be practicing his hissing -- even though his mom and sister where all the way across the exhibit from him.

We couldn’t hear him, but 4-month-old Tsar seemed to be practicing his hissing — even though his mom and sister where all the way across the exhibit from him.

Momma with one of her cubs

Momma with one of her cubs, I believe this is the female, Natasha.

Four-month-old Amur tiger siblings rolling around playing.

Four-month-old Amur tiger siblings rolling around playing.

 

Posted in Animals, Photography, travel