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Kathy Goodman: Omens

June 24, 2010 | 10:21 pm

I hit LAX to get on the red-eye to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night in order to see the Sparks play the Washington Mystics on Thursday.  I was hoping to get into first class, but the gate agent told me that I was No. 3 on the list and there was only one unclaimed seat in first.  Oh well.  I can sleep anywhere, so I got on the plane when my group was called and settled into my coach seat.  About three minutes before the flight was about to take off, a flight attendant came to our row.  “Katherine?” she said, looking at me inquisitively.  I saw a boarding pass in her hand.  “Do you want it?” she asked.  It was seat 3A, and it took about 20 seconds for me to be heading up to the front of the plane.  I sent a text to my co-owner Carla Christofferson: “Got a last-minute upgrade.  Am suddenly feeling very optimistic about this road trip.  Good things are coming.”

We spend our lives looking for evidence of what is to come in the events that are happening to us now. I didn’t expect to win on our Eastern road trip — the East has been killing the West all season long.  We had beaten Washington in our last meeting, but we had Candace Parker and Betty Lennox, both of whom are now sidelined with injuries.  So I didn’t get on the plane with high expectations.  But the unexpected upgrade seemed like a symbolic echo of an unexpected win.  (This is what comes of teaching high school English — I spend a lot of time imposing metaphors and symbolic thinking on real life.) This is now officially my story of how there is no such thing as a good omen.

Maybe the magic voodoo of the upgrade was evened out by the fact that my room was not ready when I hit the hotel at 6 a.m. and I had to find a way to kill 3 1/2  hours before I could take a shower.  But the hotel staff told me when I checked in that they didn’t think they would have a room until 10:30 or 11, so when they handed me a key at 9:30, I thought it was another symbolic windfall of unexpected good fortune signaling the good that was still to come on the basketball court.

It is perhaps noticeable that I have written very little about the basketball game itself.  Let me cut to the chase.  We lost.  The Mystics won, 68-53.  I thought a lot during the game about what I was going to write, but although I thought our game against San Antonio earlier in the season was the low point, this game put that one to shame. It was, plain and simple, terrible basketball. It was no fun to watch and it is no fun to recap.

One of the very few high notes: Katie Smith was held to zero points, which seemed to be our one defensive achievement of the game, since she is the most prolific scorer in women’s professional basketball.  Of course, they didn’t need Katie Smith’s points because Crystal Langhorne scored a career-high 27 points.  Both Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Kristi Toliver played admirably off the bench (Toliver led the team with 11 points), and Noelle Quinn was our standout starter (with 10 points and seven rebounds.)  But otherwise, it was pretty ugly basketball.  We perked up a bit in the third quarter when we cut the Mystics’ lead to six, but that was as close as we got, and it was just generally not a good game.

What I thought were omens of good fortune were merely good fortune in and of themselves — to be enjoyed as they happened in the moment.  So, I have decided to stop thinking about last-minute upgrades, lucky shoes, the mystical shirt or anything else and instead just to live in the moment.

We’re flying to Atlanta tomorrow for a game on Sunday afternoon.  I am making no predictions.  I will just let it unfold.

-- Kathy Goodman, co-owner of the L.A. Sparks