Midway through a three thousand mile or so Spring Break road trip, my route cut a path through the delightful city of Savannah, Georgia. The one time colonial British Capital famed for its cobbled streets, hospitality and the origins of the girl scouts was a charming stop over. But amongst all the street side historical treasures, it was a celluloid one which I, like every other unprepared tourist struggled to find.
Now vacation is exactly that and taking a hoops holiday is a requirement for both body and mind. But the chance to see a world famous bench was too much to pass up. Given the amount of time any coach spends sitting on one – even in a proverbial sense. So, the search for Chippewa Square was the easiest part, despite the improbable number of squares in Savannah’s historic downtown area. But the actual bench that one Forrest Gump sat on to regale his story to fellow bus passengers, proved to be as elusive as the feather that floated through the opening scene.
Many years ago the bench in question from the 1994 Oscar winner was removed and taken to a local museum for safer keeping and preservation. A fact not lost on me, despite several laps of the park trying to find the spot it once occupied. If only for the obligatory sickeningly self-obsessed selfie. Yet nothing was left. No trace of its existence. No plaque to commemorate its location even. As elusive as finding the mythical Greenbow ALABAMA one might say. For those more intrepid of tourists, the actual location of the filming was in Varnville, SC if you’re ever passing through.
Yet three years into American life provides a better understanding of the country that the Bubba Gump founder and Apple investor lived in. Taking his mother’s wise words to heart, life and it seems basketball is truly like a box of chocolates. You really never know what you’re going to get.
Just ask any number of NBA so-called-super-stars who for one reason of another have found their way out of the playoff race at worse, or on the outside looking in at best this spring. John Wall and the former eastern conference semifinalists are looking up at Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls in the standings. Both of whom are currently out of the playoff race. An early finish to the season is definitely something they never knew they were going to get. Likewise out west with James Harden’s Rockets clinging onto a playoff dream sneaking in at the eighth spot. Both fine examples of coaching changes and loyalty not resulting in assured success.
Some are more fortunate. If you can be in such a case. Perennial losers, designed to fail such as the Sixers have been joined by media heavy weights like New York, Brooklyn and the Lakers. Like it or not all destined to disappoint. And finally those who wanted to take the leap from supporting to lead roles such as the Pelicans, Bucks and Kings. But this happens every year and will never stick in the mind as long as Alabama’s favorite son. What will though is the historic run of the Golden State Warriors which, despite a stumble against the Celtics and then the Wolves, ran into the record books. But do we really want to see it?
Only a few months after the cast and crew of Gump picked up six academy awards, Jordan and the Bulls set off on their marathon coast to coast run just like Forrest. Taking in all corners of the country and all comers from every club. The rest as they say, is history. And history is well known to repeat itself. Seen the (cough) “New” Star Wars film anyone? In the decade of reboots both on TV and the big screen the suggestion of a Forrest Gump Part 2 is well justified. But like the Warriors, is it wanted?
Forrest’s son could take up the story telling narrative from 1982 through 2012 as the next generation takes the baton just as Steph Curry has from the 90’s mercurial star Michael Jordan. Both perform feats of sporting genius that defy expectation and reshape what we think is possible with practice. There would always be a new Lieutenant Dan and Bubba to replace Michael Jordan's Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc. Draymond Green fills #33’s adaptive shoes like a glove while Klay Thompson is more than capable of those understated flashes of brilliance the Waiter served up when needed. Even Tom Hanks has naturally aged enough by now to fill Sally Field’s role as parent and star in both films. Just as Steve Kerr seems destined to do as a member of the Jordanaires before and the play caller in the present day Bay.
That generation’s presidential characters ranging from Hollywood’s Regan to the Original Clinton bring the changing faces of leadership to the narrative. Just like both the Bulls and Warriors leaders enforced a playing style uncommon to the rest of the league at the time. Triangulated or Free Flowing. The same way the switch from Stern to Silver has brought a new direction for the Association’s rules and outward appearance. Sometimes too much so. It becomes less like comparing peas and carrots to more like apples and elephants. In no way similar.
The duel generation human interest stories are so comparable that the screenplay almost writes itself. Take if you will the impacts of Hurricane Katrina or Carmen. The wars on Terror in the Middle East or Communism in South East Asia have dominated the headlines. The counterculture movement has been replaced by Bernie’s political revolution at the heart of college campuses around the country. Black lives still matter many years after the panthers activities ceased. Sound investments in Apple or Facebook in the early stages both felt like a gamble not likely to pay off. Similar to investing in Australian Centers like Luc Longley or Andrew Bogut. Or in post-surgery guards with apparent dodgy knees who became key contributors like Shaun Livingston and Ron Harper.
Listening to the conjecture of which team would win becomes as much a pain the ass as whatever jumped up and bit Forrest on the buttocks. Even if it comes from direct sources like Pippen or Kerr. It’s impossible to say who would win. That’s the beauty of sports itself. One thing is for sure that regardless of the record this season. Without a Championship for the happy ending, any discussion will have an asterisk by it in terms of this debate.
Obviously those who saw the 1994 Gump movie and the 1996 Bulls Team will lean towards their generation retaining the record and no movie sequel. While those born after the mid-nineties will want to awaken next month to their own basketball force and welcome a little Forrest. Look at it this way. If the company Lieutenant Dan invested in had settled for the Macintosh, you wouldn’t be reading this on your phone right now. Technology, time and the game have changed. Peas and Carrots no more. Remember: it’s no fun, if you know what you’re going to get.