I was/am a hard headed person. When I was growing up, my dad and I didn't get along so well. Early in life, I knew he hated Michigan so, to antagonize him I became a Michigan fan. That lasted a few years until I met a lot of Michigan fans and came to the conclusion, they are bad winners and sore losers. Not all of them rubbed me wrong but enough to switch sides. That is not to start a fight, that is what really happened.

This didn't bring us any closer together. Finding common ground with my dad appeared to be something I would never find. I was always a momma's boy. After I graduated and left the house, my dad and I didn't speak for about 2 years. When we did see each other, it was usually tense and there was a lot of walking on eggshells. I did a lot of stupid things, rolled their Jimmy one night when I didn't have permission to drive it. I just got my license and only had a paper copy. He had a lot of reasons to not like me.

Little Joey and Grandpa Maynard

My Grandpa Maynard passed away March 17th, 2000. We went to his funeral lunch and my dad said he wanted to go see the high school basketball championships that night at the Breslin Center. At the time, my wife told me "this is something you should do with your dad." So, I went. My dad and I had a great time. We reconnected and I finally figured out who he was and he got a sense of who I was. We were basically the same person, separated by years with a few character differences. I realized, the age gap was really keeping us apart. He wanted me in his life and I needed him in mine. We found our common ground at a high school basketball game, where we didn't know ANYONE that was playing.

A few weeks later on March 31, 2000, I got in an electric accident and nearly died. Click here if you haven't heard about that. My dad was really shaken by my accident. My buddy Joe never told him how severe the accident was and when he arrived at the hospital to see me, he turned white when he saw the condition I was in. He sat with me everyday. We watched MSU beat Florida for the 2000 National Championship at U of M Hospital. After I went home, he would come visit me and take me to Ann Arbor for follow up treatment. Our relationship had taken a 180 and we have never looked back.

Joey, Jerry and Jimmy Pants

The next year, he was all excited for the tournament and bought our tickets the day they came out. We have gone back every year. Our bond is really what I wanted my entire life from my dad. As the years went on, I eventually got on the radio, took a more active role in my church and looked for opportunities to help my dad with his farm, cutting wood or whatever he needed. He's never come out and said it and I hope he never does but I have seen in his eyes, he is proud of me. This year, after I announced my first MSU Hockey game, I took the puck they gave me and delivered it to my dad right after the game. I don't know if he understood the symbolism behind it but it was an amazing feeling.

My dad is my neighbor and now I see him almost every day. It reminds me of the old bible story about Elijah and Elisha. Elisha, the child kept repeating to his father, "As long as you live, I will not leave you."

Today we begin our 15th year watching basketball together. When people say "it's just a game"... It's a lot more than a game to me and always will be.

Joey and Jimmy Pants from the Pants Stash