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Postcard from Minneapolis: When my inner child went crazy

At the Final Four, the games occupy just two of five days of events. There are press conferences, locker room sessions, celebrations of the game, parties — and three basketball games. One of the many events taking place within this packed five days is the announcement of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class.

Every year, the newest Hall-of-Fame members who can attend the announcement participate in a press conference, followed by smaller breakout sessions. These are like press conferences except smaller scale. Among the former players to be enshrined this year is Vlade Divac.

Now Divac is known for a lot of things. He is among the first of the European players to be really successful in the NBA. There the emotional 30 for 30. His international career alone is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

But for me, there was another reason to explain my excitement to meet Vlade Divac.

You see, he had a cameo role in one of my favorite childhood movies.

Vlade Divac had one line in the movie “Space Jam.”

During the announcement, all I could think to myself was, “Don’t ask a Space Jam question. Don’t ask a Space Jam question.” In my long weekend here, I spent time talking basketball with Hall-of-Fame reporter and columnist Bob Ryan and Mike Breen the television voice of the NBA Finals, but my big star-struck moment was being able to speak with an NBA player who was in Space Jam.

I knew I had a job to do, and it had nothing to do with wonder if Vlade felt slighted because the Monstars chose Shawn Bradley over him. Don’t get me wrong, this year’s class really moved me, and I felt compelled to write a story involving Divac as well as women’s basketball trailblazers Teresa Weatherspoon and the Wayland Baptist University Flying Queens. Look them up. These women dominated college basketball when our culture wanted nothing to do with women’s sports. They were the first women’s basketball dynasty.

But as I was waiting for Weatherspoon to finish her interview with NBA TV, I saw Divac sitting by himself in the interview room. I saw my opening, I had my chance to ask Vlade Divac a Space Jam question!

Now when I boarded a plane to fly to Minnesota, I had a good idea of how the week would play out. I already described the excitement of covering my second Final Four. But not once did I expect to ask about Space Jam, let alone talk about the movie for 10 minutes with someone who spent 10 seconds in the movie.

Divac couldn’t have been more gracious. He told me how he ended up in the movie. We talked about the movie itself. He said that he really hopes that LeBron can get Space Jam 2 going. In my mind, my inner child was going crazy. It was an incredible experience, one that I never thought would happen, and one I’ll never forget.

One last thing.

Vlade said the Monstars would’ve won by 20 had they taken his game from him.

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

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