For those of us who do not follow professional basketball, in 2021 both the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks made their way to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for Phoenix and the state of Arizona, they came up short in a six-game series against Milwaukee, with a large amount of blame placed on Phoenix’s star player, Devin Booker. I am one of those people who blamed Devin Booker. Now I know you are undoubtedly wondering, “What does NBA basketball have to do with a travel course offered at the University of Scranton?” I am here to tell you from my personal experience, not only is it extremely relevant, but the Devin Booker curse is real and alive!
My peers and the faculty on this trip can attest that the state of Arizona and I have a “Jane Normas” problem with one another. Although December 29th was the official beginning of the Extreme Physiology course, I would not meet with Professor Fay and company until 1AM on December 30th due to a cancelled connecting flight from LAX to Tucson, as well as two delays. I felt bad for the Uber driver Professor Fay called for me, who naturally was uneasy driving his sedan through surely the bumpiest jet-black night of his career. You see the first home we lived in was beautiful and quite spacious but was a bit off the beaten path. In any case, this was the first indication of the curse at work.
The next morning, I met my classmates and explained to them the travel debacle that ensued the night prior. How my connecting flight was cancelled, and when I finally convinced the Delta flight assistants to get me a seat on a flight for that same night to Tucson, it was delayed twice. I also jokingly mentioned the possibility of my bad luck being a result of trash talking both the Suns and Devin Booker when they lost in the Finals. Regardless, we had fitting for our bikes, and I was ecstatic to finally be in Arizona! Little did I know of the eight-mile preliminary ride we had scheduled for after the morning lecture, I would only make about five before my bike’s rear tire essentially spontaneously combusted. See I have a decent amount of cycling experience, but the rocky and uneven terrain of Saguaro National Park proved to be too much for my rental. As we made the first turn out of the park onto the road, my back tire caught a huge flat, one that would place me in the Saguaro National Park visitor’s center for about an hour until I was picked up by the crew. I bought a hat from the souvenir shop and took pictures with the cacti to commemorate the continuation of the curse.
At this point, both Dr. Sweeney and Professor Fay have affectionately dubbed me “The Problem Child”, a title I wear with pride. With the flight issues and my bike giving out on our very first ride, it is quite clear my luck is working against me. At a crossroads, I begin my penance by apologizing to Devin Booker and the state of Arizona each night before I go to bed, hoping it makes some impact. Our next ride, bumping from eight to twenty miles would unfortunately be no different from our first. Instead of finishing the twenty-mile ride with a sense of accomplishment, about eight miles in, I get a thorough lesson on bike mechanics from Dr. Sweeney and learn what exactly a derailleur does. In essence, the derailleur is the mechanism that allows the bike to shift gears. In my case, it was completely warped and broke off the bike, meaning unless I received a new bike, I would be waiting around at another visitor center.
Thankfully, Jason, the head of Bike Tucson brought me a new bike which was perhaps better suited for my purposes, let’s say. After about 45 minutes of intermission, we all saddled up and finished the ride. With a bit of a bruised ego, but nevertheless enjoying myself, my luck seemingly turned around after that.
The curse seemed to be gone. Devin Booker and the state of Arizona seemingly forgave me after about three days of misfortune. It would not manifest itself until January 8th, the day of the fifty-mile ride. Stay tuned…