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"I Feel Like a Piece of Cheesecake"

Sept. 08, 2003
Sept. 08, 2003

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Sept. 8, 2003

Inside Cover Image
Sports Illustrated Bonus Section: Si Adventure

"I Feel Like a Piece of Cheesecake"

Check me out. I know I'm arm candy, a trophy husband, a pretty
boy whose primary purpose is to look dynamite at courtside. And
I've known it from the first week of my marriage to professional
basketball player Rebecca Lobo, when I began receiving mail
addressed, in all seriousness, to Steve Lobo. I've known it since
my best friend in Minneapolis first called my wife and me "Dos
Lobos." I knew it the minute my little brother in Chicago asked
me, "So what are you, like, a WNBA ho?"

This is an article from the Sept. 8, 2003 issue Original Layout

What I am is a WNBA husband, which is sometimes like being a
baseball wife, but with fewer hair-care products. We are the
unsung Schuman in Stacey Dales-Schuman, the anonymous Taylor in
Charlotte Smith-Taylor. Except that I didn't get my name on the
back of a Connecticut Sun uniform. As my unhyphenated wife, who
uses her maiden name for basketball, explained, "My teammate Taj
McWilliams-Franklin took the only dash that the embroiderers
allocated to the Sun."

She didn't say it to me, of course. I had to read that quote in
the Denver Post because my wife is always on the road, which I
imagine, in my worst moments, to be an endless minefield of
himbos and hoochie papas.

And their house pets. A man recently approached Rebecca in a
parking lot and said his cat was a big fan. Then he produced a
photograph, taken eight years ago, of his little Whiskers,
standing on his hind legs in front of the television set, as my
wife's face filled the screen. That photo is now on our fridge.
And you wonder why I worry?

Still, I persevere. I am Tommy Wynette singing Stand By Your
Woman. And so I arrive with my wife two hours before every home
game at the Mohegan Sun arena. More than once this season, to
kill the time, I have repaired to the adjacent hotel spa and had
my noggin trimmed with number 1 clippers while the rest of the
building bustled with middle-aged women in curlers--cucumbers on
eyes, dryers on heads, mud packs on face, cotton balls between
toes, O magazines on laps. By late in the season I found myself
dishing the dirt with the best of them.

Make no mistake: I do wear the pants in the family. But those
pants are WNBA-logoed Houston Comets shorts tailored for a
woman's body. (I jog in them.) Last week, while cleaning the
basement, I found my wife's 1996 Olympic jerseys in a gym bag.
After pulling down the shades, I tried one on, checking out my
reflection in a chrome toaster. By contrast, my father--less
secure in his manhood--has yet to wear the XXL New York Liberty
shirt we gave him two years ago, perhaps because the back of it
reads, A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE GARDEN.

Last year, the day after my wife was traded from the Liberty to
Houston, we were eating lunch in New York when Regis Philbin
stopped by the table and said, "Lobo! We're gonna miss you in New
York, kiddo!" As she and Reege chatted, I sat there silently, as
I always do, wearing a Harry Potter-style cloak of invisibility.

I'm not complaining. When my wife discussed anti-inflammatories
with Jason Sehorn one night, I idly swapped spouse-talk with
Angie Harmon. When my wife played against Tim McGraw in a
celebrity basketball game last spring, I sat on the sidelines
with Faith Hill. Sublimating my own identity has seldom been so
much fun.

Last season I followed Rebecca to Houston, and this season I
followed her to Connecticut--where my wife is best known, and
where I have happily settled in as Steve Lobo. Last month, when
we were T-boned in a traffic accident, the other driver emerged
from his truck and said, upon seeing the missus, "Wow, this is
exciting."

Now I know how the other half lives. During the WNBA season the
majority of men's rooms are converted to ladies' rooms in many
arenas. "What I enjoy most are the three-quarter-mile walks to
the bathroom," said my friend Bill Sullivan, husband of Cleveland
Rockers guard Jen Rizzotti, speaking by cellphone on Saturday. At
that moment Sully was in his car, choking on exhaust, following
the Rockers' team bus from Cleveland to Detroit for Game 2 of his
wife's playoff series. "This is who I am," sighed Sully, echoing
the league's advertising tagline.

I likewise followed my wife last week, to Charlotte, where the
Sun won its first-round playoff series against the Sting. Feeling
like a piece of cheesecake, I went to the Cheesecake Factory on
Friday night with Rebecca and two teammates, Katie Douglas and
Brooke Wyckoff. Hanging around these professional athletes, I
really did feel like a piece of cheesecake--a WNBA groupie--not
least because my tablemates told me, and I quote, "You're a WNBA
groupie."

After dinner, in the hotel lounge, discussing who had the
league's best braids and worst weaves while watching a WNBA
playoff doubleheader, I began to reflect that perhaps they're
right, and I really am, like Whiskers the Cat, a little too
wrapped up in my wife's work. And then I thought, Oh, well. So be
it. This is who I am.

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER
I am a WNBA husband, which is like being a baseball wife, but
with fewer hair-care products.