Published: June 19, 2013
Go Miami Heat.
I'm hoping the Heat defeat the San Antonio Spurs in Thursday's NBA title game. I write this despite my admiration for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and star Tim Duncan.
Let me explain:
A couple of weeks ago, a text arrived from my daughter, Ruth, while I relaxed in a movie theater.
She asked who would win the NBA Finals. Without much thought, I sent a fairly long text picking the Heat but also explaining Popo and Duncan had won all four previous trips to the Finals. The series would be close.
A couple of minutes later, her return text arrived.
She had just completed a bet with her boyfriend. She picked the Heat, on my advice, to rule the NBA.
And if she lost the bet, she would have to jump out of a plane.
What? Jump out of a plane? In the darkness of the theater, my heart started pounding.
Let me be clear: My daughter, 26, is ready for anything. She's strong, diligent, compassionate, determined and resourceful. She's traveled in six continents. She's a force of nature, not to be denied.
And yet .
She remains, in so many ways, my baby girl. On an April evening in 1987, a doctor handed me a 9-pound, 6-ounce vision of perfection boasting a gloriously full head of hair and a knowing smirk. Holding Ruth a few minutes after her arrival, a tidal wave of emotion overwhelmed me.
It was my duty and privilege, I instantly understood, to protect her from harm of any kind.
I do not want my daughter to leap from a plane. I realize many skydiving enthusiasts will scoff at my concern. These enthusiasts will say falling from the sky is safe.
And I say to these enthusiasts:
Let your daughter jump from a plane.
On Wednesday morning, I called my neighbor Pat Carlile, who works as a pilot. I knew Pat had jumped from planes during his years of service in the Army. Pat, not one to make a fuss, calmly described his final jump.
"I was the last one out of the plane," Pat said, "and the first one on the ground."
He took a frighteningly rapid path to earth from 1,200 feet. His parachute malfunctioned, and he hit the ground with a hard thud.
"Broke a bone in my back," he said in a matter-of-fact monotone.
He recovered, but never will jump again. This makes sense to me.
A few minutes after talking with Pat, I called Ruth, who was preparing to board a nonstop flight to Dubai. We had talked only a little about her bet. Maybe, I thought, she was excited about the prospect of falling from the sky.
"No," she said, "I don't want to go skydiving. I'm terrified. I don't want to go."
But here's the thing: When she says she will do something, she does it. That's how she operates. She briefly considered breaking up with her boyfriend, thus escaping the bet, but decided the move would be cowardly.
Besides, she said with a laugh, she likes the guy. Well, that makes one of us. (Just kidding, I think.)
Tuesday night, I watched the Heat and Spurs deliver one of basketball history's all-time thrillers. Heading into the final minute, Ruth seemed on the way to her big fall, and in a peaceful living room my heart pounded as it had pounded in the darkness of the movie theater. The Heat's Ray Allen rescued my daughter, at least for now, from her peril.
I realize the Spurs have shown courage while seeking to conquer their advancing age and the Heat's astounding talent. I realize Popo and Duncan deserve their fifth title. And I realize it is delicious fun to root against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and greasy-haired Heat exec Pat Riley.
None of this matters. I do not want my Ruthie jumping out of an airplane.
Go Miami Heat.
San Antonio at Miami, 7 p.m. Thursday, ABC