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The Magical Realism of Daryl Morey


2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

You have probably been pounded with enough “X in the Time of Covid” references to be delighted to never hear one again. You may, or may not, know that the reference is to a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel titled “Love in the Time of Cholera.” which is both fairly self-explanatory, and in the way of Marquez novels, not at all explanatory.

Marquez was considered one of the foremost proponents of a style of writing associated with South America called magical realism. (The idea being, the story was presented realistically, with magical elements occurring, and also being presented, in a realistic fashion.)

This style seems to have shifted out of literary fiction fashion at present, and reached its height in the mid to late 1980s. Honestly, though, I’d take any number of characters turning into clouds of butterflies, as opposed to some of the grinding “naturalist crushing moment of truth” novels proffered these days.

While the aforementioned book, and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” were Marquez’ most famous works the one I will tie to the Houston Rockets by the thinnest of threads is a late work by Marquez. It is his strange, bleak, fictional biography of General Simon Bolivar, “The General In His Labyrinth”.

If you don’t know anything about Bolivar, that’s a shame. He’s a figure akin to George Washington, though his leadership freed more territory and more people from colonial rule. Like other great figures of the time, the greatness of his deeds lie in the shadow of the evil of slavery in the New World, though Bolivar, unlike the public figure of Washington, was in a real sense an abolitionist.

Briefly, he was a towering leader of both undeniable greatness, and definite problems. By the end of his life, he was no longer the triumphant President of Gran Colombia, the South American nation he’d lead the revolution to create (Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, combined), but a disillusioned, dying man. The subject of “The General In His Labyrinth”, Bolivar is afflicted by recollection of his choices, the ghosts of his decisions, and the weight of the changes he wrought. Fortune and his brilliance saw his unlikely revolution both succeed wildly, and ultimately abandon him. Others were happy to take what he and his and his fellow rebels wrought, but had little use for the General.

In the book, Bolivar attempts to flee Gran Colombia for exile in Europe, and as he leaves, his pomp, and respect, abandon him. He goes from a President, and a General of many names to an unnamed protagonist, wandering, lost in memory.

Bolivar will shortly die in the novel, and Daryl Morey will likely live, and even Generally Manage again. The comparison still seemed apt, somehow. I imagined Morey, struggling with doubt, seeing a league that had followed his revolution, taking much of his edge, looking for the next act, the next moment of greatness, turning in an ever narrowing circle, as his options became ever fewer, and exits disappeared.

A great transformative leader, who became somehow reviled, consumed with regret for doing what he was meant to do, and speaking out as an American, rather than an agent of corporatism and material interests above all.

One of the greatest revolutionary leaders in human history outlived his moment of triumph, and the most revolutionary general manager in NBA history now takes his bow, his revolution successful, his dream still unfulfilled.


Too Much?

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  • 25%
    Not enough.
    (33 votes)
  • 15%
    (21 votes)
  • 23%
    (31 votes)
  • 35%
    He’ll be in Dallas within a year.
    (47 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now