This is the sort of personal meditation I’ve perhaps become known for on TDS over the years. If that isn’t your kind of thing, or the sentiments break the above dream I’m trying to crowbar into the world of sports, I well understand. Consider this an apology meant to insure friendly relations in the future, with no admission of wrong from me.
John Gardner was an underrated writer, and an excellent teacher of writing by all accounts. If you wish to write, or improve your writing, his “Art of Fiction” is well worth your time.
For me, sports can also create the fictive dream described above, and begin to act as though I was telling the tale. In my mind, I’m recounting the tale of a sports team, a season, the greatest in the world competing, bands of brothers. Not always, but sometimes it happens.
It can be a lovely antidote to the inexplicable behavior of once-reliable institutions, to an assault on consensus reality. While randomness, in the form of injury, can intrude, we like to believe the outcome of the dream is dependent on the efforts of the key characters. We affirm that heroics, not hamstrings, will decide the outcome.
Sometimes, deep into a season, far into the playoffs, it can feel real, unmediated. You might even intuit that you know the players to an extent, that you can predict how these puissant millionaires will react to a situation. Lost in sport, like a great book, you can, for a while, live in a world that has a certain logic, a reliable ruleset, and story of great depth to follow.
Tonight’s Game Six threw me out of the fictive dream.
Tonight I saw the ruleset bend, and an outcome the cynical, worldly, me, the one always outside the fictive dream, would have advocated as a foregone conclusion, come to pass. Now, it’s tough, likely impossible, to prove, but I’ve made my living believing my own analysis, my research, my eyes. I have certainly been wrong often, and perhaps I am now.
Still, I remember 2002, and Los Angeles versus Sacramento. I remember people then telling me to not whine, to not look for excuses, just like I’m being told tonight by many on this blog. It’s hard to describe just how vindicated I felt when it came out that Tim Donaghy was bent. I know what I saw, and I never wavered. I did, in fact, stop watching the NBA for several years. But the NBA story is so compelling, it drew me back in (and how).
Tonight, at times, felt that wrong, that out of hand. Others may disagree, but I’m only reporting my own opinion, my findings. It shattered the thing that, to me anyway, sells sports, makes it relevant and makes it rich, to pieces. This assertion may annoy you, but ask yourself if that’s what you truly believe, or if you’re protecting your warm place by the fire in the fictive dream. (Also note if there are any other such articles by me about Golden State’s two other wins. I might be annoyed, heated, in the moment, but I cool off. Not now.)
Now, the Warriors are historically talented, and it may well be they’d have won anyway, without any help. They’re certainly more than good enough and they’ve proven it. The thing is, I’ll never know. With the game in the balance, starting around mid-way through the second quarter, the fictive dream was broken for me. Judging by many names I respect on NBA twitter, and even many I don’t, I wasn’t alone.
If you think I like stepping outside the dream of the NBA, the world it creates, you’re woefully wrong. If you think this is the sort of thing I enjoy writing, again, so wrong. But it smells like something nasty crawled inside this game and died, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
Give Golden State credit, not only are they great at basketball, they’re also accomplished arsonists. There’s no way you can forensically reconstruct a Rockets victory on the smoldering remains of 4th quarter. This one is over, it’s in the books, and it’s a Golden State win.
Golden State did enough to earn this win, and if I was a Warriors fan I’d feel annoyed at the taint on the victory, one that far more than Rockets fans are pointing out. Tonight the NBA, like the real world outside its fictive dream, seems “cold, tedious, and dead”.
Fun Notes - I have written close to 250 pieces for TDS (and a couple of other spots). I have never, in that time, written this piece, or something substantially like it. Some complaining, yes. Not this. I welcome comments, but please say something interesting. To save some of you time, there’s nothing you could say that’s going to:
A. Make me question my credentials as a fairly functional human being.
B. Make me think I didn’t see what I saw. Unless it’s a compelling and detailed video exegesis, and I’m betting you can’t make one.
C. Make me think I don’t know basketball, “real basketball” whatever your personal definition of that may be, or I’m some sort of inferior fan and observer.
Bonus Fun Note - There’s a phrase that has always annoyed me, and if you use it in commenting on this piece it will likely result in an insta-ban.
This poll is closed
Not far enough.
Mavs in three! Warriors in two! Eric Gordon just got hit on the arm again somehow.