Eddie Griffin. R.I.P.
(Consider this the counterpoint to Dr. LIC's warm appreciation)
Back when Kobe was facing charges, I used to hassle the Recluse for an expert opinion. As awful as this sounds, I really didn't want to lose the experience of watching Bryant play. I know that I'm supposed to have a conscience, and view sports as more than self-contained spectacle. In this case, though, I selfishly enjoyed Kobe Bryant's game that much. I imagine that, if Vick hadn't already loudly announced his pro limitations, I might be feeling some of that over his plea.
It's been years since I bemoaned the loss of Eddie Griffin the athlete. When he came into the league, he embodied everything my basketball awareness holds dear. On the court, he ping-ponged back and forth between swag and utter serenity; his presence was sketchy and yet utterly thick with implication, like it was only a matter of time before something amazing came into focus.
Here's the thing about Eddie Griffin, though: above all else, he was a deeply flawed human being. The Recluse brought up Len Bias; Bias had his heart give out in an era when everyone did blow. That's bad luck—we should feel sympathy for him, but it's also okay to wish otherwise as sports fan. It's not even crass for the Celtics faithful to lament what his death did to their franchise.
Len Bias is a tragedy because of what he could've been; Griffin, on the other hand, was doomed from the beginning. In some ways, he might as well have never been an NBA player. His demons were going to run him down sooner or later, and that wondrous game of his? In the end, it existed only to remind us all how little it actually mattered.