Thursday, May 16, 2013
David Beckham Retires
I still remember that sunny day in Los Angeles, waiting for David Beckham to enter the stadium suite that had been reserved for the local Galaxy reporters. We were a pretty small bunch, about twelve total. Soon, due to the dying print media industry, there would be even less of us. Beckham was big news at that time, though.
He entered wearing a silver Burberry suit, smiling nervously, yet also well aware of his power to charm with that smile. Beckham tended to smile more when deflecting a question, for example, like when I asked him about his injured ankle.
I guess the things I remember first were all the ridiculous scenarios. The reporters from tabloids who would show up at press conferences after the game to ask Beckham questions about Tom Cruise. The media chasing Beckham after matches he'd spent on the bench. Cruise, Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant all hanging out in the Galaxy locker room. The glaring Becks would do when journalists asked if he was hurting the Galaxy to go during the season to Milan, London Olympics, Royal wedding, England friendly, etc.
But what I'll recall most are the little moments, maybe. I watched Beckham's kids do a fair share of growing up during the Galaxy years. I'll remember Brooklyn peeking out behind the press conference curtain, Romeo kicking a ball around on the grass with his brothers, Cruz making funny faces. I never saw Vicki without her sunglasses, and I never saw her wear flat shoes. I would always marvel at how she could walk so well in heels.
I watched Becks in various stages of anger, denial, frustration, despair, resignation, determination, acceptance, leadership and joy with the Galaxy. It was a rollercoaster ride that finally ended at a nice place for him, with back-to-back MLS Championship wins.
He seemed to settle in at the Galaxy once some of the hype got killed off by the initial poor results. No more press conferences at every game, just locker room interviews post-game like the others. Beckham never became just another player, but he found his niche as the team learned to utilize his unique passing game. Beckham himself learned to love Laker basketball and convertible cars. His teammates also came to appreciate his work ethic, genuine eagerness and restrained English humor. Beckham, with his soft voice and intrinsically shy personality, wasn't ever a guys' guy, not in the sports macho sense, but he was always a loyal teammate who took the idea of his role as a sports pioneer seriously.
Four titles in four countries. It's simply an impressive feat.
Goodbye, David. Here's hoping you were also serious about owning a team in MLS one day. There are still worlds to conquer.