I was going to hold off on this post until Monday, when I'm not busy visiting with my girl's folks. But I've decided that given the urgency of the matter, and the distinct danger that someone else might think of this first, I have no choice. I must move now and quickly.
To all those asking for a working definition of FreeDarko: I can at least offer the advice that, above all things, you must prize the beginning of the season. I will never attempt to convince that it matters in some strictly competitive sense. But it is first shapely stirrings of the team's narrative, and provides invaluable troughs of the NBA mundane. No matter what your orientation toward the sport, these early days are more than paltry scraps on the verge of rot.
I can hardly understand how, then, it took me so long to firm up this second jawbone of credo: the end of the season is the mirror of its outset. For many, like the Phoenix Suns, these are a mere formality. Yet in the case of the truly wretched, only now do we witness the return of that early season texture. November exists solely to tease or force feed the hounds with potential, December unceremoniously crushes them, and then late March and the regular season's fraction of April are all about stirring up the mist where they fell.
Now, in these late, aching weeks, is when young teams suddenly do go bananas. Where rookies run, weirdos prosper, and the future seems like more than an accident. Many might have seen Suns/Warriors as proof that Golden State could hang. Sorry, but that was just them being the epitomal late season flourish. To find a spark, or an identity, this late shows only a lunatic's death bed conversion, or the discovery of uranium by two cooks holding flames. Do not take these words to mean that they waltz with irrelevance. But be sure, these are fantasies, fever dreams, the realm of possibility given webbed toes and a wallet.
You may say "things happen because everyone else has given up." Really, though, who has cast down their sword? Dallas and Phoenix? Teams doomed to a rock-solid fifth or sixth seed? Teams in no position to meaningfully tank but. . .determined to give up? Face it people, magical things happen when, once all has slipped away, the Blazers, Bobcats, Hawks, and Celtics of this world flout their self-imposed conventions and let themselves be free.
Here are a few things I currently find moving:
-LaMarcus Aldridge, franchise player
-Gerald Wallace, coming for that contract
-Walter Hermann, the Adam Morrison I can stand
-Salim Stoudamire, dead-eyed rogue
-Everything I said about the Warriors on Friday
-Rondo/West, Addam's Family backcourt
Please, tell me yours. But like me, be open, always open, to the fruitful paralysis of surprise.