Living the dream — Marriage stretches across 2 time zones

Published: Tuesday, March 30 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

She was Susan King, Stanford women's basketball team point guard, torn anterior cruciate ligament, right knee. He was Curtis Borchardt, Stanford men's team center, stress fracture, right foot.

They met rehabbing in the training room.

She often had her head buried in a book. He needed a study-buddy. One thing led to another. It doesn't take a Stanford grad to do the math.

Now she's Susan King Borchardt, still a Stanford point guard, starter in fact, knee doing better, about to play fellow traditional-power Tennessee tonight for a berth in this weekend's NCAA Women's Final Four.

He's still Curtis Borchardt, but now a center on Jazz's injured list, screws holding his foot together, a complicated wrist fracture mending.

It's been a long-distance relationship ever since the Hawaii honeymoon that followed last Aug. 9's wedding in her native Minnesota. Yet somehow they make it work, she from Palo Alto, Calif., or whatever campus on which the Cardinal might be playing, he from Salt Lake, or whatever NBA city the Jazz call home-for-a-night.

"I feel," Susan says, "like I'm leading two lives.

"It's been hard."

How hard?

"If you ask anybody, when we're together, we're literally together. We're never farther than six inches apart from each other," Curtis says. "And for me to only be able to see her for one or two days a month — that's really hard. Really, really hard."

Getting married, however, may have been the easiest hurdle the two have had.

Curtis and Susan had little clue what they were getting into back in spring of 2001. Juggling a two-basketball family wasn't on the radar.

"That was the last thing on our minds," Curtis says.

Heck, they had to date first.

Six months later, they were engaged.

Then things really got crazy.

"It was a hard time when he was debating whether to stay at Stanford or put his name in the NBA draft," Susan says by phone from Norman, Okla., where on Sunday Stanford beat Vanderbilt for a berth in tonight's Midwest Region title game.

Stress fractures had severely limited his first two seasons at Stanford, so going into his junior year Curtis never really considered leaving for the NBA while Susan, whom he still was just getting to know, stayed behind.

That changed shortly after he proposed.

"As the year progressed, and I kept playing better and feeling better," Curtis says, "that's when I think the pressure started.

"As the rumors started that I might have a shot at being drafted in the lottery (top-13)," he adds, "that's when we first started to get confronted with it."

Confronted, that is, with the real possibility of being separated before even being together.

Decisions, decisions.

Curtis had to make one. Susan, too.

"It was huge. I mean, I love Stanford. I loved playing basketball there. But, at the same time, I didn't feel like that was the main determining factor," he says. "If I would have stayed, I would have stayed so I could be with Susan another year.

"In the end, the smartest decision professionally would be to . . . play (in the NBA)."

Orlando selected Borchardt No. 18 overall in the 2002 draft, then immediately traded him to Utah.

Susan's call came next.

Give up the game? "That would never have happened," she says. "I love basketball."

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