Wednesday, April 20, 2005

15 Steps

A basketball court is only 50 feet wide, you know. About 15 steps. That was all that separated Don Poier and myself on January 17th down at the Forum. I hadn't talked to Don in a few weeks, and I thought about walking across to say hello as he and Michael Cage were setting up to do their pregame work.

Of course, you couldn't just say hello to Don, because he would want to know about you--your life, your family, and your job. He always asked about my job--how I was doing, and he always, always offered his help in any way if I needed it. For him to take an interest in someone like me, someone who has done nothing compared with Don, for him to care about my life just shows the kind of man he was.

I'll always remember how much he loved his family. Nothing, not even the Grizzlies making the playoffs, made him happier than spending time with his wife and kids. He loved Barb so much. They were so in love--they would spend hours and hours just driving around the United States in their RV, just talking and spending time together. It was a joy to see them together.

And how he loved the Grizzlies! His enthusiasm was infectious, whether the team won 50 games or 15. He knew, just KNEW, that something big was happening in Memphis, and he wanted to enjoy every moment of it. No one prepared more than Don, and no one sounded like Don. His voice and his mannerisms were one of a kind--all of us in radio wish we had the pipes of Don Poier. He was the biggest reason people really started embracing the Grizzlies--when you listened to Don, you couldn't help but love the team. He was more than the voice of the Grizzlies, he was their ambassador.

I've got to finish my story--as I said, I saw Don across the court, but before I could walk that 50 feet, those 15 steps, something came up and I had to go back into the media area of the Forum. I never saw Don again. How I wish I had taken those 15 steps.

On the night when the Grizzlies honor their silenced voice, I echo their sentiments. We miss you, Don.

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