The first time they played basketball, John Stockton blocked his shot.
Jeff Condill, blocked plenty of times growing up in Chicago, congratulated Stockton. They grew into guards and friends at Gonzaga University.
Just don’t ask Condill who the better player is. He’ll laugh.
“Obviously, I’m pouring beer, and he’s in the NBA Finals,” Condill said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.”
But he’s happy to be pouring beer at Jack and Dan’s Tavern, which he also feels very lucky to partly own. The other owner is John Stockton’s father.
Condill watches the finals like a player. He calls Karl Malone “Mail,” and he calls other players “homes,” and he says things like “Stick it in your Rodman” when the flamboyant Bulls player fouls out. Condill talks personal to the refs, but it’s a quiet talk, between him and the TV screen.
Condill crosses his arms. He crosses them tighter as the game gets tighter, the Jazz lead disappearing like foam on beer. By the end of the game, Condill’s feet are rocking, and he’s in his own bear hug.
“The fat lady just sang,” said Condill when there was two-tenths of a second left.
The Jazz lose by 2. The tavern, so crowded it’s squatting-room only and people are being turned away at the door, goes limp. The phone starts ringing, a chorus of people yelling, “Wooo-hoooo!” and “My Bulls!” and making fun of the Jazz.
The true fans are upbeat about winning the next two, overcoming the 3-2 Bulls’ advantage. Condill plans to fly to Chicago today, hooking up with other Spokane fans and scattered friends. They plan to see Game 6 in person. The group will stay in his family’s Chicago home.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo