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Big Monday In The Carrier Dome And A Valentine To Gordon Malone

Dear Gordon,

You came into my life like a hurricane. Dropping 23 points in an overtime loss to Allen Iverson and Georgetown in only your third ever game as a Mountaineer, I knew we would have a future together. The hated Victor Page might have spoiled our night, but you and me Gordon, we were going places.

Rangy and athletic, you were everything I was looking for in a big man. You dominated down low, but you were good enough to take your game to the wing. I was smitten. Sure, there was an age difference, as I was only 13 at the time, but I thought we had a chance. A real chance, and in today's mixed up world of love, greed, and deception, that meant something to me. You were 6'11", I was 4'5", and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

It was a month later that you asserted your dominance over the hated Orangemen of Syracuse. John Wallace and Marius Janulis were no match for your skills that cold winter's night, as you poured in 22 points on 9-14 shooting and further made an impression on my heart.

Our lives together weren't always perfect. You disappeared for games at a time, sometimes because of effort and sometimes due to outright suspension, but my love and affection always managed to find you.

Our love culminated on December 4, 1996 -- I remember it like it was yesterday. Playing 19th ranked Syracuse, it was a game we were never supposed to win. Sure, we beat the Orangemen the year before, but that was in Morgantown, this was in the Carrier Dome. We had no chance, or so I thought. You had different plans, both for the game and my soul.

Brent Solheim may have started, but you were the star. Coming off the bench, you missed only two shots out of twelve, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. In my eyes, it was a triple-double, in points, rebounds, and times my aching heart swooned. You had me Gordon, but it wasn't meant to be.

Later that year, you left me -- you left me for the greener pastures of the NBA. I was mad, angry, and hurt, but I couldn't blame you for leaving, considering I was a 14 year old you had never met. We lost touch, as is likely to happen in such situations, but I always remembered the times we had together. I heard through the grapevine that your NBA dreams didn't pan out, but I was never happy with such news. I always wanted the best for you Gordon, because I cherished those times we had together.

Today is Valentine's Day, and I remember fondly to that day in December of 1996. You see, Gordon, that was the last time we beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. It's been a long 14+ years without a win in Syracuse, and Mountaineer fans, myself included, would very much like to change that. Gordon, wherever you are, if you could find it in your heart to help us tonight, it would mean a lot to me and the rest of the Mountaineer fans.

If they're anything like me, they still remember that game in Syracuse as the "Gordon Malone" game. I know I always will.

Take care Gordon, and happy Valentine's Day.