Honorable Mention: Pretty Dang Cold

by Ray Lu | 4/30/18 2:20am

Youth fades quickly, or so I’ve learned in the past few years. A little under two years ago, I was tasked to write a sophomore summer sports column titled “First Team.” Every week, I walked into The Dartmouth’s offices, sat down next to the editors and typed out 800 words of pure energy the night the column was due. 

Yesterday, I labored through the sixth edition of “Honorable Mention” on a Dartmouth Coach from New York, running out of ideas and time. The Class of 2018 graduates in under 50 days — I’ve stopped keeping close track to preserve my sanity. Most people have told me to savor these last moments, but there is just far too much to savor and far too little time. 

A prospective member of the Class of 2022 from my high school recently called to talk about Dartmouth, which is a big deal for me since there isn’t a single underclassman here from my school in Austin, Texas. He worried about the same things I did — classes, social life and, of course, the weather.

The summer before college, I bought my first real jacket, a stylistically-original, meticulously-selected black North Face fleece. I tried it on in our inadequately air-conditioned living room in the middle of a Texas summer and nearly broke a sweat. 

Fast forward to the end of freshman fall. I’m walking to class wearing every jacket I’ve ever owned, two hoodies and my impenetrable fleece, and still cold. Today, I shamelessly don my thickest parka to brave 35-degree spring days. It’s not freezing, but it sure is close enough.

“It’s pretty cold, man,” I said on the phone. “Pretty dang cold.”

The summer before college is magical. The summer after college is the culmination of growing up. It’s being excited to get eight hours of sleep and watch “The Great British Bake Off.” It’s also starting work in the real world.

Another Austin, Texan is starting a new job very soon. Baker Mayfield, drafted by the Cleveland Browns first overall on Thursday, played in my high school football district for a powerhouse program that churned out talented college quarterbacks. Mayfield was fifth in a lineage of eight consecutive quarterbacks, and counting, to commit to play football at the Division-I level. Several of my high school teammates’ claims to fame are tackling a Heisman Trophy winner and number one overall pick (as well as attempting to wrap up now-Washington Redskin Samaje Perine).

I can’t claim to have been the biggest Baker Mayfield fan in college, especially considering he’s on the other side of the Red River Rivalry, but I hope he succeeds at the higher level. The fact that he found his way to the first overall pick is an incredible feat in itself, and he has an uphill battle ahead of him.

I didn’t learn my lesson with the first set of NBA playoff predictions, so here we go again.

Western Conference:

Houston Rockets (1) vs. Utah Jazz (5)

Previous predictions: HOU over MIN, 4-0 (actual: HOU over MIN, 4-1); OKC over UTA, 4-1 (actual: UTA over OKC, 4-2)

The Jazz are the real deal and stunned the playoff world, but it’s clear that the Thunder had offensive rhythm issues that didn’t completely right themselves during the playoffs. Don’t expect the same success against a more balanced Rockets team, especially if Ricky Rubio’s hamstring limits him.

Prediction: HOU over UTA, 4-2

Golden State Warriors (2) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (6)

Previous predictions: POR over NOP, 4-2 (actual: NOP over POR, 4-0); GSW over SAS, 4-1 (actual: GSW over SAS, 4-1)

Can Anthony Davis and the Pelicans keep up their success from the first round? The sweep against the Portland Trail Blazers was entirely unexpected, but this is a Warriors team that many pegged to win it all. A twin towers combination of DeMarcus Cousins and Davis would have thoroughly exploited the Warriors’ weakness down low — it’s unclear if Davis on his own can shift the momentum of an entire series against an opponent this good.

Prediction: GSW over NOP, 4-2

Eastern Conference:

Toronto Raptors (1) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (4)

Previous predictions: TOR over WAS, 4-1 (actual: TOR over WAS, 4-2); CLE over IND, 4-0 (actual: CLE over IND, 4-3)

The Raptors always seem to be the benchmark of the East: good but not great. Winning this series might change that. Should Toronto come out on top, their title aspirations should be taken much more seriously — at least by me. On the other hand, Lebron James — also pretty dang cold, see the end of Game Six — just scraped by a tougher-than-expected Indiana Pacers squad, but the Cavaliers typically have the Raptors’ number. I’m still picking Cleveland, but it’s not going to be easy.

Prediction: CLE over TOR, 4-3

Boston Celtics (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3)

Previous predictions: BOS over MIL, 4-2 (actual: BOS over MIL, 4-3); PHI over MIA, 4-3 (actual: PHI over MIA, 4-1)

#TTP

Prediction: PHI over BOS, 4-1