It was close to 1:45 a.m. Friday in New York when Pat Gaines started to cry the happiest tears she’d ever known. She could thank her son Sundiata, who managed to hit the shot of a lifetime just five games into his NBA career with the Jazz.
“I couldn’t find words at first last night, I was just so welled up and filled up,” she recalled. “I said, ‘This is so great.’ It’s just something he’s worked so hard for. And, you know, moms cry. That’s what moms do. They cry when they’re happy for their child.”
The NBA isn’t really a very human game. It’s about style and motivation and determination and certainly there are some human elements to it, but it somehow manages to be the most expressive of all the sports and still feel the most aesthetic in regards to emotion.
Which makes this story about “Yatta” Gaines and his mom that much better. Bear in mind that Gaines was looking at making less than what you make a year. Now, in about eight days, he’ll probably be making ten times what you make. And moreso, it’s validation. It’s the cementing of his own belief that he doesn’t belong on the outskirts, that he belongs in the game. He hasn’t earned it yet, he’s got to keep up the work. But from the article above, it sounds like Sloan has his back and they’re telling him the right things.
That Sloan sounds genuinely happy for the kid? That’s something special. Sloan is one of those guys we’re not going to appreciate until he’s gone, and even then, people that only look at the game’s surface (“The Lakers are winners!” “The Nets suck!”) aren’t going to see everything he’s done for this game. But some of us will know. And that’s enough for a legacy.