Goodbye, Elkhart Express, we hardly had time to know you.
Goodbye, Elkhart Express, we got to know you intimately.
Strange how both statements fit.
But, then, the Elkhart Express were a logic-defying, dream-like, seemingly born-out-of-nowhere experience, doing things at warp speed, and both statements do apply.
With virtually no incubation period, they were the brainchild of Daimon Beathea in mid-2005.
As soon as early 2006, they had uniforms, a brand name, a schedule, a charged-up atmosphere for home games and, of course, players -- some of the premier players in all of minor league basketball.
Then by mid-2007, they already had two International Basketball League titles, beating teams along the way from markets like Los Angeles, Portland and suburban Chicago.
Then by this first week of 2009 -- poof -- they were gone.
"Shane, come back!"
It doesn't look like the Express will, their financial issues too real.
For now, we have to settle for knowing that, with our Express, quality kicked quantity's butt.
For now, kind of like the empty-nest syndrome, all we have is wondering what we did with all that time before they arrived.
And memories. We do have the memories.
So, goodbye to Elkhart being the envy of minor league basketball nationwide.
Goodbye to all the civic-mindedness of our Express.
Goodbye to all those ex-NBAers who couldn't solve our Elkhart Express.
Goodbye to sweaty summer days and evenings at North Side Gym. Those literally electric industrial fans did little to help cool our figuratively electric basketball fans, who didn't seem to care. Those fans were easily the most and the best in the IBL.
Goodbye, Ernie Express and the Conductor. How'd you survive in that get-up, Ernie? How'd you thrive in that outfit, Conductor?
Goodbye, authentic train whistles and railroad crossing signs, some of the coolest touches I've ever seen at any sporting venue.
Goodbye, Locomotion. You exuded potion.
Goodbye, officials. Some of you were plain horrible, but if not for deadlines, you might've at least been amusing. Others of you were OK. Most of you were conscientious, and a couple of you were outstanding.
Goodbye, naturally, to the players. Beathea continually brought in not just some of the top ones, but some of the most fan-friendly ones. They joined Beathea in making the Express who they were.
Goodbye, Tim Pledger. You're the consummate pro's pro. Never seen anybody take his job more seriously, compete more ferociously or warm to crowds more genuinely.
Goodbye, Coleco Buie. You defied time with your play. You're also one of the nicest human beings anybody could get to know.
Goodbye, Cedric Moodie. You're the best pro basketball player who's never played in the NBA that I've ever seen. We gave you a nickname -- the Lord's Assassin -- and it fit precisely.
Goodbye, Jarrod Lovette. Thanks for your rugged play, and for sharing all of your amazing story in such raw and candid fashion. I know you inspired some of our readers.
Goodbye, Eric Brand. You played only that first year, so I think some might forget to properly include you with the above four guys on the all-time Express starting five, but I contend you were the MVP that first year, the year that got all this going.
Goodbye, Darmetreis Kilgore. You'd be the sixth man on that all-time team. You led the Express in rim-rattling dunks and in rattling the opposition, then capped it with a postgame gentleness that said, hand me a rattle.
It would be easy to go on about many more players, and many more things, but space doesn't permit justice.
So we'll halt abruptly -- screeeeeeeech -- just like our Elkhart Express.
We knew you briefly. We'll remember you forever.