The Heart of a Perpetual Loser
At the risk of alienating a good percentage of the FreeDarko audience, I’ve got a confession to make. Actually, it’s not much of a confession because anybody that knows me can affirm the following fact: I’m one girly ass dude. Despite my manly (i.e. hairy and beer-gut) exterior, on the inside I’m pure, putrid, pathetic emo mush. I cry when animals die in movies. I can’t watch “Strangers With Candy” because I feel so bad for Candy. I am one of those rare-breed of dismal people that is absolutely and completely incapable of being mean to telemarketers. To the casual observer, I might look pretty normal and maybe even considerate, kind, and/or a “good person.” This is all incorrect. I’m just a pussy.
I’m not particularly embarrassed and/or proud of my girliness. At this point, I’ve accepted the fact that this is just me. This is just how I engage the world. Or, to quote a sobbing Kevin Garnett, “this is just how I’m built, man.” How is any of this relevant? Well, first of all, to piggy-back off of Shoals recent “this is a league of psychologically complex individuals” post, I think my girly personality would translate well on the basketball court and, frankly, it’s a shame I’m not in the NBA because I’d probably be one of the most entertaining, inspiring, and likable characters in the league. But, alas, I’m not.
How else is this confessional introduction relevant? Well, my girly personality allows me to develop particularly burdensome emotional attachments to people that may or may not be ready, willing, and/or deserving of that type of burden. This happens fairly regularly in my day-to-day life and basically means I experience an absolutely irrecoverable heartbreaking incident every six months or so. Of course, all of the very-real-yet-admittedly-melodramatic heartbreaks I have experienced will pale in comparison to the absolutely devastating heartbreak I would experience if the god damn Philadelphia Seventyfuckingsixers trade Allen Iverson
Logistically speaking it shouldn’t happen. Iverson is playing the best basketball of his career, he still sells plenty of jerseys and seats (albeit not in Philly), he’s a perennial All-Star based on recognition alone, and he’s become the face of Philadelphia basketball. Trading Iverson is ridiculous from a business standpoint. But, that being said, some folks still insist on arguing that it might not be a bad idea from a strictly basketball standpoint. Fact of the matter is, the Sixers are mediocre as shit right now, and we all know that being mediocre is way worse than being flat out bad. The blame has to fall somewhere, and we all know that AI has a history of taking the brunt of that blame whether it’s justified or not (and, like all controversial celebrity figures, it rarely is). Personally, I wouldn’t make the argument that Iverson is somehow responsible for their mediocrity (what about the Sixers’ lack of team defense, Igoudala’s reluctance to be aggressive, Korver’s inability to develop a game within the 3-point arc, or Samuel Dalembert’s inability to harness his athletic energies into little more than blocking a whole bunch of shots a game?), but there are a bundle of people that would make the argument—I just hope none of those people have positions of power in the Sixer’s front office. And this brings me to my main point:
Even if trading Allen Iverson made sense from a business and/or basketball standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense from an emotional standpoint… at least for an emo sap like me who is all but in love with this little fucking guy. Certainly, while his basketball ability is a large part of my emotional attachment to him, it’s much more a combination of what Shoals and Rocco articulated recently: that my real-yet-admittedly-distant-and-melodramatic involvement with these players—in this case Allen Iverson—is based on something more than just admiration of unfathomable athletic prowess and competitive drive. It’s at this point where basketball has become something more of an art, where players’ performances can be admired on their terms. In far more simpler terms, I think I can get away with saying that “Dude is my dude and I ride for him” and you people will know what the hell I’m talking about.
But, my super duper main point is this: I’d rather lose with Allen Iverson than win without him.
Yeah, I said it. I’d rather lose in the first or second round of the playoffs every god damn year, dwell in the wretched den of just-below-and/or-just-above-.500 mediocrity with this man than go 82-0 in the regular season and sweep everyone in the play-offs and win the whole damn ‘ship with some other turd(s). This is not hyperbole.
Of course, this echoes the “this is a league of style/stars/nutcases-on-display” mantra that we live and die for around here, but allow me to offer up this slight variation on the theme: “This is NOT a league of wins and losses.” Perhaps we can chalk it up to the postmodern death of the grand narrative, where the age-old, linear narratives of (a) dominant team wins championship or (b) Cinderella team overcomes huge obstacles to grip the heart of a nation and win championship have just lost their meaning and effect. Or perhaps the domineering personalities that have flocked to the NBA in droves have forced us to engage the sport in a more human and subjective manner. Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is, to many of us, wins and losses and championships are the footnotes, not the action that drives the narrative. In fact, I would argue that winning itself stands at a point that’s at just about equal distances from “everything” and “the only thing.” And, I think then that this is the major point of contention between the basketball fans of yore and the new breed that finds themselves nodding along to FreeDarko: the game done changed and the winnings and losings are only as important as the winners and losers that play the fucking game. I suppose finding some sort of grand-scale enjoyment in each and everyone of AI’s performances regardless if they result in a win is akin to liking the music that an artist makes whether or not he wins a Grammy for it.
So, as Shoals mentioned in his post yesterday, it would be unthinkable to trade someone like Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett, but not just because they helped “build the cities” that they currently play for. We fucking love these guys. Fuck winning when love is involved.
Or perhaps I’m just an emo-ass dude and I’ve got crushes on all these fucking dudes because of some odd estrogen chemical imbalance. Somehow I doubt it though.