On April 5, 1993 the most talented player on the most talented team lost a game in which they had the momentum simply because they lost track of the timing.
Many people remember the game. Chris Webber and his Michigan Wolverine Fab 5 had lost control of the NCAA Championship game. After being down by as much as 5 in the final minute of play the Wolverines spurred a comeback to pull within 1. Then, after a UNC free throw brings the Tarheel's lead to 2 points with 28 seconds left Chris Webber calls a timeout.
The team had no timeouts remaining. The resulting 2 technical free throws hand UNC the game and Chris Webber never plays another minute in college.
Webber could have taken a final shot. Michigan could have tied or taken the lead. We will never know. It was not his lack of desire, nor his inability to perform which cost them the game. It was his lack of understanding of where they were and what was going on around him.
We are in a similar moment with Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. Nobody questions her intentions but we do question if she understands where we are at in the game and whether she is brave enough to play in the final seconds. With the City lined up to take a shot, and the NBA reeling from newly released E-mails she is attempting to take another timeout and consider drawing up a new play rather than taking a shot and going for the win.
Currently Governor Gregoire is scrambling to find a way that her office can express to the NBA their desire to keep the NBA in Seattle and their disgust at the lies of Clayton Bennett. She has drafted a letter, to be signed by everybody relevant stating these expectations and hopes to have a representative deliver this to the owners in New York. This amounts to calling a timeout when your team needs you to take the shot or pass the ball. For this game, in this season, there are no timeouts left. We have moved past the point of drafting new letters or making new assurances and for the moment have to take the shot we have.
During months of state inaction the city has come up with a game plan which has a fighting chance. Their arena proposal, fully funded would demonstrate without question that the city and state are serious about this. Money, Big Ballmer money, not a letter, will do the talking.
The Governor has stated that the city has the ability to bond this funding in an interim basis and that she fully intends to fund it next session. At this point we are simply asking her, working with legislature to make a personal pledge of that commitment which the city deems sufficiently binding to take to the league. Letters to David Stern are just fine, but right now she needs to get with the rest of her team and cooperate in the play that has already been drawn up.
Rightly or wrongly the Governors actions or lack thereof will be tied to her reputation like the timeout was to Webber. Like Chris Webber this will leave her sitting squarely in the spotlight. Nobody remembers that Jalen Rose missed two shots in that final minute, one an air ball. In the unfortunate world of political hot potatoes Gregoire, as the last person who was able to make a difference will shoulder the blame in much the same way Webber did with his timeout.
Like Webber she will go on to play other games. Seattle, like Michigan will have a new season to prove itself. However at the end of the day we can do better than a timeout. The Governor needs to play point guard here, set the play, and pass to the Mayor so that he can take his shot. At that point the issue is off her plate and the public can move on and focus on whether he swishes the three or throws up an air ball.