What would you rather have?
Analysts and fans micro-focusing on mundane, soul-draining considerations like whether or not LeBron James should compete in next year’s dunk contest, or what took place in Madison Square Garden last night? This is what sports are supposed to be about. Competition, exhilaration and fun. Warriors guard Steph Curry put on a show last night with 54 points, including 11 three-pointers. On the other side, Melo dropped in 35, JR Smith had 26 off the pine and, lost in all of this, Tyson Chandler pulled down 28 boards. That was an actual exhibit of skill and showmanship that could have had a spotlight and dancing white tigers. What they did in basketball terms is pull a rabbit out of a burning hat, wrapped it in Egyptian linen, sprinkled crushed lavender dust on it and made it float through the air. Somewhere Penn and Teller are clapping their hands and yelling “Bravo.”
The fact that the Warriors lost last night is irrelevant, or at least for the night it is. For Warriors fans—who are double-checking playoff seeding every 48 hours—each game is something to consider. Or for Knicks fans—trying to hold off Indiana for the 2nd seed—each win gets them closer to potentially their best postseason in this century. So yeah, of course, for them it was an exciting game. However, for the rest of us, it was must-see TV. Last night’s tilt ended up being one of those rare occasions when the game is just a game, and then, somehow, more than just a game.
One of those best-case scenario moments where there are no politics, no talking head pontificating senselessly, no bizarro writers in old shoes and oversized pants criticizing a player’s post-game wardrobe. This was just sports fed intravenously right into the blood stream. It’s not about reconnecting to your childhood or appreciating sports for its lessons on teamwork and dedication. It’s about stripping it down to its building blocks. Fans need games like that every once in a while, to be reminded why the hell we love this.
Sports, for me, has always demarcated into two categories: A distraction from the daily grizzle of everyday life, where the stresses of work/school/family can be compartmentalized for a few hours and you can disappear into another world where the biggest issue is wondering whether or not a player can get a shot off before the 24-second clock expires.
Or a vehicle to discuss and expound upon serious issues that, bogged by the monotony of heavily insular language, would, otherwise, go ignored due to the magnitude of the subject. It’s a powerful way to take a bite out of issues like gun control or socio-economics and bring it down to a level where understanding these things doesn’t require a doctorate. I’m still trying to figure out a way to discuss the upcoming sequester without the dryness so prominent in the suit and tie networks.
But when sports are dominated by 40-yard dash soap operas, sex scandals and small-mindedness, it can lose its exuberance. There’s no escaping and there are no lessons learned. It’s just an onslaught of bile that eventually leaves you jaded and corrupted. You can argue who is at fault here, but really, we’re all culpable in different ways. Journalists, writers, producers, editors, businessmen, consumers and fans. We’re in this mold-covered sinking ship together.
Some of you are going to read this and lament about the downside of idealizing. You have that right, so you keep doing you and keep downloading porn onto your smartphone. It doesn’t matter since much isn’t likely to change anytime soon. There’s always gonna be more of “them” than there are of “us” and the professional haters out there will always have their audience.
But when these moments do happen, we have to appreciate them. Take a step back and breathe deeply. Last night was awesome, and even Knicks players commented on how great Curry played. There was no name-calling and no fake-drama moments to sizzle the tabloids. Just entertainment, straight, with no chaser needed.