Thing is, men can over-define themselves by what they do. Even if what they do revolves around what other, taller, richer men do. Even if the taller, richer men are merely throwing a sphere towards a ring in a game of skill that often comes down to the luck imposed by shorter, older, whistle-tweeters. It is worth noting that the whistlers sport beige mesh uniforms that hug pectorals in such a way as to make muscles look mammary. Did I mention that the taller men purportedly represent cities they largely aren’t from, and that team supporters get no tangible benefit from a victory? Did I mention that New Orleans is in the Western Conference?
But I’m drawn to whatever this odd thing is and I write about whatever this odd thing is. I’m convinced the game’s intrinsic beauty is its redemption, and that our ability to share in its gifts is fandom’s redemption. A friend once said, “The ‘We Believe’ Warriors run was the most fun we had together in college.” That anonymous person I possibly invented is quite correct.
To me, those Warriors games don’t live in a memory vacuum. The basketball recollections arrive with a nostalgia twinge that comes with the clear vision of my old friends, celebrating together–back before we started drifting towards means, ends, and producing new human beings. Baron Davis did more than get us in one place. His pixelized wizardry elevated the gathering to an experience so joyous, that to share it felt profound. My friends still speak wistfully about that playoff run. If they occasionally revisit that the sepia NBA past, I’m squatting there. I foolishly became a basketball writer.
And if I became a basketball writer, then what the hell am I in the absence of that thing which defines? More than a few of you feel the same way, and your prose betrays such bewildered grasping. Though a select number are successfully wringing water from the dry sponge (Beckley, you bastard, you’ve been squeezing buckets), the lockout is brutal on the rest.
Some writers play up a long lockout’s ill-effect on stadium workers, declaring them worthy of deep sympathy. True, but as a cynic who often questions the purest motives, I wonder if some of this is a writer’s way of subtly saying, “What about me? What the hell am I supposed to do?” The socially aware hoops blogger knows better than to shriek, “What about us!?” but that’s certainly a reasonable way to feel. If the lockout nixes a season, this already cash-scarce profession will temporarily lose its raison d’etre. It’s a terrifying prospect for the scribes.
Feel adrift, fellow basketball blogger? I’m with you. And I’ll be with you to share in the joy when this great game returns. The sooner, the better.
Follow Ethan @SherwoodStrauss