What's In My Closet? Brush With Greatness Edition

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My career has its perks.

I've sipped Mai Tais on Waikiki Beach with Troy Aikman. Shaken hands with Wayne Gretzky moments after his final NHL game. Seen - first hand - Roger Federer win at Wimbledon, Michael Johnson triumph in Atlanta and Michael Jordan sink his last shot as a Chicago Bull.

And as I speak, I'm typing this from my home office in my boxers.

But when people ask me my coolest moment as a sportswriter, I always recall February 8, 1998.

Because ...

That was the date of the NBA All-Star Game at New York City's Madison Square Garden, the mecca of American hoops.

Larry Bird was an honorary coach. Michael Jordan was the MVP. No Mavericks in sight. It was the perfect basketball Sunday.

Then, it got weird.

In college I was always a huge Prince fan. Huge, as in posters on my apartment wall, buttons on my backpack and purple Chuck Taylors on my feet. Saw Purple Rain like 100 times. Coudn't wait for 1999 (it was 1984). I even wore eye liner and earrings to Starck Club to, ya know, be like His Purple Majesty.

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Dare I say, obsessed?

So on my way out of the Madison Square Garden bathroom, who do I bump into? Literally? Prince Rogers Nelson. Sure enough, he was walking in through the out door ... out door. He was not, however, wearing a Rasberry Beret.

He was tiny, like 5-foot-barely. He wore a long sequined coat. Sunglasses. And he carried a cane.

I was speechless. Or at least I wished.

"Dude," I frantically mumbled, in one of those awkward both-changing-directions-at-the-same-time moments. "I love you."

By now - more than a decade later - my purple had significantly faded. I was a lavendar-colored fan, at best. But, still, I was wide-eyed and agape-mouthed, preparing for him to return my greeting so I could chalk "Interacting with Prince" off my bucket list.

But what'd I get?

A simple, dismissive snap of his fingers. Not a word. Not even a subtle facial communication. Just a snap, followed by a spiffy side-step, punctuated by cane-enhanced cocky stroll toward a stall.

I've never recovered.

But when I heard he appeared on American Idol, was last week on Jay Leno and is now releasing his new albums at - of all places - Target, I realized that he hasn't either.

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