Fighting For Possession: The Greg Willard StoryBasketball, Columns, J. Tinsley, Sports — By J. Tinsley on October 25, 2012 at 12:01 am
Washington, D.C. is a beautiful city. There’s the history. There’s the culture. There’s the late Chuck Brown. There’s the ever-evolving demigod Robert Griffin III who, somehow, in less than a half a season has etched his claim as the most beloved athlete Chocolate City has seen since some guy named Sean Taylor. There’s the sex, drugs, lies, controversy and video tape that is politics. There’s Stadium, if you’re into those sort of establishments (I am). And certainly not to be forgotten, there’s mambo sauce.
I can’t speak for every resident of the DMV. Yet, “Lucky Star” – located only a few blocks away from FedEx Field - is a national treasure. It isn’t in D.C., but I’m only about 20,000 signatures short from taking this petition to the Capitol in hopes of making this hood spot a national monument. The place stays open til 5 in the morning, resulting in the perfect hangover elixir food.
“Three piece with fries. Drown in mambo.” That’s all that needs to be said to the small Asian lady who runs the place. Within 10 minutes, the order’s there. Completed. And correct. Such consistency is easy to be taken for granted. It’s human nature. We want to feel comfortable because we like feeling comfortable. The only time I’ve ever cared who cooked my food there was when my order was wrong.
The same logic applies to being a referee in sports. Call a game perfectly, no one ever knows you’re there. For a cook, prepare a meal perfectly and no one ever cares to know your name. Call a controversial penalty and you’re the scapegoat for an entire fanbase, country and media monster (what say you, replacement refs?). For a cook, mess up somebody’s order and all hell breaks lose. Being a referee isn’t an easy job, but someone has to have the balls to do it.
Perhaps the name Greg Willard rings a bell. Perhaps it doesn’t. I’m not judging either way because until a week ago, I had no clue who he was. Then again, it’s not like I had a reason to. He is an NBA ref who does his job and by all accounts does it quite well. He’s run up and down sidelines for years covering superstars like Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and the list goes on.