Note from the title, I'm not even disguising this one. . .
I am not quite sure why this Finals is leading to such an eruption of FD soul-searching. Maybe because I need to understand my feelings about this series, especially when I acknowledge that they're conflicted. Maybe I'm just bored and want to hide from the truth.
But I did have another bright thought today about this whole "you do not love winning" accusation. A friend of mine who doesn't follow sports much read the post and asked if "winning" was the quality of a game, or just the final outcome. Of course, the two aren't mutually exclusive, but I think we can all agree that there's something very unsatisfying about a victory in name alone. Case in point, game five of this series. I know that sports are all results and bottom line, and that traditional fandom demands first and foremost that we look for our jersey to be raised above all others. I can't help but wonder, though, if a Lakers fan wouldn't feel better about game five if it had come in remotely convincing fashion. Aside from that one Kobe play.
This also seems to hold with the question of "dominating," and the two are actually, to me, quite related. Can a team or individual dominate and fail—that is, lose? Win the game despite never evincing dominance? That depends on whether we interpret "dominance" as a quality—you can call it aesthetic if you want—or a question of what shows up in the box score. Dare I say, I'd rather watch a player/team dominate and lose then whatever the opposite of that is. Great men, amazing feats, drama in the air, and going down in a cloud of gunsmoke. What bugs people about the Spurs, however unfairly, is the perception that their dominance is quiet and elusive. Effective, but deceptive.
All of this, and the problem of style, come back to process. You can exude dominance along the way without that being the end result. The same even goes for winning—do we wait till the buzzer to utter the phrase "heart of a champion?" No, since these are qualitative assessments of how someone's play strikes us, what effect or influence it appears to have on the course of the game's outcome. The same thing can be said, on the other end of the spectrum, of style. Style has a use, and can be applied—usually toward some version of dominance, in fact. However, that application is no less simplistic than working backward from a final score to a game worth watching again.
It's the challenge of not just winning but WINNING, of style taken into the trenches and made into the language of competition, that I want. A product that doesn't lend itself to a dominant/dominance illusion. Is that idealistic, unnecessary, and a disaster waiting to happen? Sure, but don't go saying that this position misses the point of sports. I'm just not willing to settle.