I have been through my share of airports, having traveled around the country for work as well as for athletics back in my younger days. Just about a year ago, a team that I was working with was scheduled to play in a tournament at UCLA, which meant I was going to get to fly into LAX - a celebrity-gossip lover's dream. All I could think about was which celebrity I was going to see walking around the airport getting followed by the paparazzi? And, which famous heartthrob was I going to take a picture with while we were waiting at baggage claim?
Well, to my dismay, I did not see one celebrity the entire trip. Not one. Zero. My dreams had been dashed.
Looking back at my track record of celebrity sightings, the only encounters I've ever really had have been with athletes. Minnesota athletes at that. I remember meeting Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Johan Santana and Torii Hunter, then all of the Minnesota Twins, in Ft. Meyers, Fla., during our spring break softball trip as a junior in college. The guys let my teammates and I shag balls with them during batting practice and it is one of the greatest memories I have of my playing days.
It wasn't at the airport... but you get my drift.
Last week, the Minnesota women's basketball team was able to have one of those types of moments at the Minneapolis Airport, when they spotted Ricky Rubio hanging out near our baggage claim.
One of the most talked about athletes in the state of Minnesota at this very moment, Rubio surprisingly went unnoticed by passersby...until assistant coach Kelly Roysland recognized one of the Minnesota Timberwolves' most popular players.
By the time the team heard wind of the news of Rubio's presence, it became apparent to the rest of the crowd that the young man wearing the winter hat and eating Skittles was not your average Joe.
Members of the team politely asked Rubio if they would be able to get a photo with him, and he generously obliged. He sat for photo after photo, smiling and even sharing his candy. More people joined in, finally realizing that this young man was someone special. But, Rubio continued to sit and smile for the cameras.
The thing about his simple gesture was that he gave the Gophers, both players and staff alike, memories that many will remember for a lifetime.
Though my dreams were dashed at LAX just a short year ago, members of the Minnesota women's basketball team unexpectedly may have lived out theirs. It's not every day that you run into one of the most electrifying athletes in the NBA and have photos to prove it!
Though I don't have photo evidence, I also had another basketball encounter at Chicago O'Hare back in high school. I knew right away when I saw this man that he had to be a basketball player. He literally looked like he was walking on stilts. Even if he wanted to be incognito like Rubio had almost successfully been, it would have been no easy task. So, who was this man that towered over his entourage, you ask? None other than... Manute Bol.
I guess it's right what they say, the best things happen when you least expect them.