Meeting Mr. Belding

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Sparks All-Star Candace Parker loved watching the whole gang on "Saved By The Bell."

If you were to ask me what one of my favorite TV shows growing up was, there would be no hesitation to my answer -- “Saved By The Bell!” I loved that show -- AC Slater, Lisa Turtle, Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, and of course, Mr. Belding -- all living through the high school melodrama that we all either dreamed of living, or in some remote way, could relate to. Fast forward several years later (no need to say how many years); I’m a mother, wife, professional athlete and consider myself quite composed around other professional athletes and celebrities. Let’s just say I get it.

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Candace Parker was excited to meet Mr. Belding aka Dennis Haskins at the WNBA All-Star Game.

What I can tell you is that calm, collected and cool Candace was nowhere in sight the night before the All-Star Game and I have one person to blame; Mr. Belding! YES! That’s exactly right -- Mr. Belding, principal extraordinaire, the man; Mr. Belding! Here we (my teammates and WNBA colleagues) were, enjoying All-Star weekend activities, catching up and laughing when someone said, “Oh look, there’s Mr. Belding.” I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not, but I immediately turned around and couldn’t believe it -- it WAS him. Not only did I completely lose my composure, but I lost all sense of time and found myself back in the hallways of Bayside High School hanging out with the gang!

Mr. Belding is the bomb! He posed for photos. We chatted about our friends and families. He gloated about the WNBA and the Sparks! He posed for more photos and unbeknownst to him, he brought back many happy memories while making lasting ones that I could pass along to my daughter. He was genuine, jovial and full of WNBA love! It was such a joy putting a tangible experience to a childhood memory. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Mr. Belding didn’t just talk the talk either. He truly does love the WNBA. The Sparks first home game since the All-Star break was Tuesday night. When I came onto the court for pregame warm-ups, guess who I saw sitting baseline ready to give me a high-five? That’s right, Mr. Belding! The night was a win for us, and a great night for Sparks’ fans. After the game, we caught up for a bit and he got to meet my husband, Shelden, and daughter, Lailaa. Ask any teammate of mine and they all will say that having Mr. Belding at our game -- supporting the WNBA -- was exciting! Kristi Toliver was taking pictures with him, Marissa Coleman gave him a postgame shout out and Mr. B himself was active on the twitter feeds with tons of Sparks love!

So, thanks Mr. Belding for bringing me back to a place in time that had so many wonderful memories. Those were the days when I was becoming who I am today -- and you were part of those days. I’m glad you got to see me now. I’m sure somewhere along the way -- in some episode by the lockers when you were talking to Kelly or Zack, that you reminded us to work hard and follow our dreams. I did! We did! And here we are.

See you soon Mr. Belding, aka Dennis Haskins!

GO SPARKS