Sometimes I write about things other than basketball. It’s fiction; mostly short stories. That’s a relative secret I keep close to the vest, only mentioning my creative dreams to family and close friends.
It’s extremely hard for me. Five hundred words of fiction amounts to four times that much basketball material in terms hours and minutes, dissatisfaction and painstaking process. And worse, I often doubt whether the stories are any good, but there’s no way to know for sure – I’m the only one allowed to read them.
There’s no reason for anyone to care about any of this but me. The odds that I’m our next great story-teller are far, far longer than the odds I ever make a sustainable living out of writing at all, and the latter sometimes seem further from future reality than ever. I’m not an author, I know it and that’s fine. I’ll keep writing too familiar tales of male post-adolescence anyway.
But I won’t show it to anybody. That’s a magnifying glass to the depths of me that I’m barely comfortable squinting through; there’s no chance in hell I give anyone else the opportunity to see what’s down there.
That’s embarrassingly dramatic but it’s the way I feel. Writers are more arrogant and self-aggrandizing than even most assume. It’s why I mostly avoid first-person in my blog posts. I’m not now; is it obvious enough?
I’m no basketball sage. I played highly competitive ball year-round until I was no longer good enough, then a few years of varsity in high school. Not unlike many, many half-athletic kids that stopped growing at fourteen, probably. I watched and thought the game more than most I knew, too, but that accounts for mostly nothing.
I’m pretty much just like anyone else that likes basketball, can form a coherent sentence or two and has a lot of time on his hands. Just a blogger, basically. If there is a difference between me and the rest of us, though, it’s this: I’m wholly and unapologetically objective with regard to analysis. It’s a stupid point of pride for me, but it’s always there.
I grew up without a team to root for. I prefer the style of some to others and generally cheer for what I consider ‘winning’ basketball from either side. I have favorite players, but that’s more about method than anything else, too. Essentially, I like the teams and players that emphasize process and play the way I would if I could: enthusiastically, selflessly and intelligently. That’s it.
There’s one constant exception, and he’s the swinging pendulum between either side of this suddenly rambling internal – well, external now, I guess – conversation.
It’s not that I do and keep it to myself; I’ve literally never written about him. It’s not by accident, either.
As KG and the hapless Celtics were on the brink of playoff elimination in April, I tried to change that. His inspired, hardly surprising play and the increasingly cloudy skies of his NBA future deserved it. If I don’t write about KG now, will I get another chance?
This is the progress I made before giving up:
We cling to innocence.
Age doesn’t change that, either. Our superficial selves shroud it from plain-view as we get older, eschewing outward sense of the unknown in favor of partially feigned knowledge and certainty. Adults are too socially aware to openly pontificate on subconscious thoughts of imagination, impracticality and sheer belief without reason. It’s a balancing act that plays out internally, how to weigh our perpetual childish enthusiasm against the way society dictates our actions and vice versa. And as dispiriting as it is to admit, the scale normally tips to the latter by our very choosing.
I’m projecting my own demoralizing reality, of course. There’s no information gleaned from a survey or focus group that confirm these sentiments, so I should clarify they’re simple assertions. But it’s heartening to assume there are others out there like me, that this sudden crisis of NBA conscience is easily identifiable by those with similar ambitions and who believe similar means are necessary to achieve them.
And should I ever do so, I’ll know my chosen path of resistance was worth it. But that doesn’t make this time lost any easier to comprehend or come to terms with.
I don’t know, either. If fiction is a highly intensified lens to my soul, then what does that make this?
The diction is histrionic and the syntax is contrived, but the emotion conveyed is all too real. I knew it was a road to nowhere when after several hundred words I’d yet to mention anything relating to basketball or Garnett at all. Hardwood Paroxysm, after all, is not an alternative to the diary I don’t have or even my stream of conflicted twenty-something consciousness. It’s about the NBA.
So I dropped it, saved the excerpt among my cavalcade of dying ideas stored in Google Docs and left it to rot for six weeks. It didn’t cross my mind again until this past weekend, when talks of a trade sending KG and Doc Rivers to the Clippers reached their fever pitch.
I don’t know if the trade will happen. On a very thin surface, it seems Boston could do better than DeAndre Jordan, cap flexibility and a couple late first-round picks for sacrificing the franchise as we’ve known it since 2007. But there’s no foolproof way to rebuild a broken roster, and perhaps the notoriously cutthroat Danny Ainge wants his guys – including Paul Pierce, assuming an eventual buyout should the deal be completed – to ride off into the basketball sunset together.
But for once, this isn’t a time for me to analyze. It just feels like a time to be thankful that I’ll have another opportunity to appreciate my favorite player’s relevance on a broad NBA scale before he hangs them up.
I want to be KG’s fan; I’ve missed out on that aspect of his twilight in lieu of unbiased and timely assessment over the last couple years, once I realized I might take basketball writing seriously. Nobody likes a homer, I thought. And it’s always hardest to write the things you really, really care about – if irrationally; he’s a goddamn athlete – and identify with, anyway.
So I want KG in a Clippers uniform, I want Doc roaming the sidelines, and I want Pierce, Paul and Griffin to be there, too. If this postseason’s taught us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a surefire championship contender. A team’s fortunes can change in the blink of an eye; injuries suck. But this hypothetical Clippers group has the on-paper makings of a team capable of playing into June.
And when I really think about it, that’s all I want most: more time. More time to make up for that which I lost. More time to appreciate his seemingly subtle superstar influence. More time to laugh at his post-game interviews. More time to think he’s better than he actually is. More time to be KG’s fan.
I may not write about him, and even if I do it surely won’t be published. It would take too long because I care too much, and most importantly, it might not be too good, either. But I want a chance to do so on the level KG deserves regardless, talking culture-change, playoff-seeding and championship aspirations; not his farewell tour on the suddenly sorry Celtics, or worse, a career retrospective before I knew it was over.
Get the deal done, guys. Please.
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