“Mama, there goes that man”: Former ABC NBA Commentator Marc Jackson’s confident and poignant analysis of basketball. It’s such a simple statement to highlight a play that simply has no better response. “Mama, there goes that man”. I can’t remember how many times he said that during the Lakers playoff runs from 2008-2010 but to be perfectly honest with you, the phrase doesn’t hearken to back-to-back championships. No, it’s something so much simpler than that. Something that makes more sense to me now.
“Mama, there goes that man” takes me to a little boy sitting next to his mother on a park bench when he sees his favorite ball player walk by. The ball player gives him a smile and the little boy ducks into that safe spot in his mother’s side. She knowingly smiles as the little boy doesn’t have the courage to say hello. Not yet, anyway. Once the ball player rounds the corner, the little boy looks up to his mother and says calmly, “Mama, there goes that man.”
There’s an emphasis on the “Mama”. Something about how what the little boy saw was so important that he needed Mama to know. I like to think that Mama turned to him, expecting to see him really excited, and was surprised how calm he was in that moment. Then the rest of the phrase kind of tumbles out: “there goes that man”.
There’s an antiquated notion in the little boy’s use of “that man”. It’s not just any man, it’s “that man”. The idea that we can emulate those we find significant to our dreams. It’s not an embodiment of perfection, but rather a naive comfort in the assumption that we can aspire to be like those who inspire us. “Mama, there goes that man”.
We’re getting to an age where “I hope”, “I want to be”, and “I pray” are turning into “I’m trying to”, “I’m working towards”, and “I am”. We have fond memories and deep regrets. The paths we take are more and more our own. The little boy is growing up.
I like to think that some years pass and the smile and endless hope are the clearest measurements in the man visiting his mother. He walks past the home of ‘that man’ and ‘that man’ is sitting on the porch with his grandson; comfort in his rocking chair, peace in a life fulfilled. The grandson looks on with grandpa and wonders what’s so intriguing about this particular person walking by the house. The man walks by on the way to his childhood home as ‘that man’ looks on from his chair.
He turns to his grandson and says, “Sonny, there goes that boy.”