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November 14, 2011 :: 4:51pm ET
21st Century Fox
 Former Kings forward and long-time color analyst Jim Fox becomes U.S. citizen.

LOS ANGELES -- I love America. I love Canada, too. Call me old fashioned, but I'm a patriot and advocate of how we live our life in the States and Great White North.

We take our liberty for granted at times, so there's not a more appropriate weekend than Veterans Day/Remembrance Day to honor those who sacrificed for the right for you to chirp me on Twitter.

In September of this year, Los Angeles Kings TV color analyst Jim Fox and his wife Susie became American citizens after decades of holding a green card. I've chronicled our relationship with the affable analyst over the years; he's become a friend, as well as sharing with me the finer points of the game that at times I fail to grasp.

Night in and night out, Jim teams with Hall of Famer Bob Miller to provide an entertaining and informative three hour broadcast to the Los Angeles faithful on Fox Sports West. While writers aren't supposed to root for teams they cover, there's no unwritten law of the press box that says I can't claim there isn't a better broadcast team in the business; the nights when the Kings aren't so good, you can't say likewise about Jim and Bob.

One of the unseen benefits of what I do is having access to the wonderful people that are in this glorious game and build relationships with them; from time to time, I own a duty to pay that good fortune back.

Through family connections, we've met Brad Sherman, the Congressman of California's 27th district that serves the San Fernando Valley. Mr. Sherman is not your typical politician; before he entered elected office, he was a Harvard educated tax attorney and thankfully for the people of the "Valley," he's the antithesis of Herman Cain and Rick Perry in every manner.

Mr. Sherman was the dude in the Capitol Hill hearing that asked CEO Rick Wagoner of General Motors what his method of transportation that got him to Washington to testify about why the auto makers should receive a huge government bailout.

"I don't know how I go back to my constituents and say the auto industry has changed if they own private jets, which are not only expensive to own, expensive to operate and expensive to fly here, rather than to have flown commercial," a stance that forced Wagoner to drive a Chevy Volt the next time he came calling to Washington.

Brad has served long and well in the House and is enduring the challenge of re-districting that makes the tenure in his House seat a bit more precarious than usual.

One of the ways Mr. Sherman recognizes Joe and Jane Citizen for adding value to the community is to present them with an American flag. This is not just any American flag. And that's where the story really begins.

Ever wonder what they do when they lower the flag at the end of the day that flies over the U.S. Capitol?

Wonder no more, because those flags are preserved to present to citizens who make our country a better place to live.

Jim Fox was born in Coniston, Ontario, a quiet enclave of 15,000 that was the home of Jim's first team, the Coniston Flames. He went on to great success in junior hockey for the Ottawa 67's, closing with a monster season of 65-101-166 that resulted in him being the 10th overall pick by the Kings in the 1980 Entry Draft. He played nine seasons in the big show with the 1984-85 season being his best, 30 goals and 83 points. Jim played four more seasons before a devastating knee injury suffered in a game versus the Boston Bruins ended his playing career abruptly.

With the next stage of life quickly thrust upon him at age of 30, he continued in the employ of the Kings as to find which path to take next. Always a fan favorite, Jim became a team ambassador before finding his way to the broadcast booth. While those first days were rocky behind the mic, the move resulted is a 20-year career that he never takes for granted. The organization and fans showed their mutual appreciation on Feb. 11, 2006 when "Jim Fox Day" was celebrated at center ice of Staples Center, a fitting tribute by one of the most recognizable names and faces in franchise history.

All this time Jim and Susie held green cards, simply defined as the authorized right to live and work in the United States permanently, but they didn't have all the rights that accrue to citizens.

"I came into the league in 1980 and I got my green card in 1983," Fox related this past Sunday at the team's annual charity event, Tip-A-King. "Back then, your employer could sponsor two employees and at the time the Kings and Lakers were under the same umbrella. My wife needed to work as well, so we got green cards."

As the Foxes acclimated and grew to love their new home, their permanent resident status allowed them to live the normal life that other Americans do. So why after 28 years was a decision make to embark on the route to citizenship?

"I always thought about doing it, always planned on doing it and finally got off my big, fat butt and did it," giving a brutally honest answer with a gleam in his eye. "I'll be honest, you always hear about government red tape, but it was one of the most efficient processes I've ever been involved with, it was easy."

When the process commenced, Jim was told it would take six months from cradle to grave to get the moment of swearing in.

"It was exactly on the timeline," he said. "The process includes an interview and an exam, they give you 100 questions, they ask you 10 and you have to answer six correctly. I was six for the first six."

Once a sniper, always a sniper, eh?

The Kings and Fox Sports West were primarily responsible for making it happen. My first reaction was to present the flag to Jim privately, but after some thought, I figured it would be a nice touch if an on-air presentation could be made.

The plan was to keep the spot a secret, but a few hours prior to game time, Miller rightfully suggested that we inform Jim about the presentation. Having a Congressman as the lead dog in the moment made it easier, wasn't his first, and won't be his last and he came ready.

"Do I have two minutes, three minutes or four," was Sherman's initial query upon his arrival at Staples Center.

Though he had two game periods to compose his thoughts, it was a highly emotional Jim Fox we viewed in the moment from behind the cameras. It was compelling television to see the grace and gratitude in which he received the honor and you can view the video at FoxSportsWest.com directly.

As the country is a year removed from one of the most important presidential races of the last 25 years, Jim admitted a deeper reason to wanting to become Citizen Fox.

"I'm a big advocate of participation and being able to vote is a big part of that," he said

So when the next Election Day rolls around and you think it may be too much of a hassle to exercise both your right and duty, think of a certain right wing from Coniston who waited decades for that privilege.

Dennis Bernstein is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period Magazine. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


 

 

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