THE TORLEOF: Earth Without Sorrow or Flesh
The other part has been canceled, so I had to further misspell the title. Thank you.
I had a landlord once who used to say "thank you" after everything, especially the most dick-ish things he said. He said a lot of those. This was an enormous Colombian mathematician, and despite that odd combination was just a boring piece of shit who complained about us leaving a cooler in the yard and yet wouldn't acknowledge there was a cute local gang selling drugs out of the apartment building across the street. We got back at him by having a yard sale that started so early that a crazy man and tranny on meth came and bought all our spare wires and cables.
This was a terrible NBA season, and I blame it all on LeBron James. Well, not all on James himself, but on the long shadow his free agency (and Wade's, and Bosh's, and whoever else became a franchise player just by being on the market this summer) cast over the actual season.
Even if these players and their mini-maxes had, as they say, changed the game -- arguably for the better, or at least more noble -- they also proceeded to hold the hostage throughout the season. Not to retreat to what's fast becoming a cliche, but Durant and the Thunder provided relief from this climate, flushing out the stale air and giving us a team that, ostensibly, didn't need to worry about contracts, or money, or personnel, or brand, or media overkill. Sure, that's a really shallow take on that team, but compared to the Knicks and Nets and LeBron, they were unencumbered. At the same time, OKC was part of the next generation. Kobe, Garnett, and Duncan won't last forever, as we begun to see this year. The subject of Dirk remains open to discussion.
But even more disillusioning than the build-up to free agency was what's passed for NBA coverage, and fandom, in the wake of The Decision. Blanket statement: It was all a huge moralistic, lazy bore, that obscured the fact that we're about to see a team in action that could change everything we thought we knew about basketball. If you think that statement is overcooked, please find words to disagree with it. There has never been a team this grandiose; nor one that offered so many possibilities on the court. How many games the Heat will (or need to) win, whose team it is, and whether karma will rear its ugly head are continuations of a post-Decision mindset. Can we please, for fuck's sake, all stop whining and pointing fingers and get ready for the ride of our lives? If you're about to bungee jump into a Buddhist temple with a bag of coke in your pocket, you don't spend your time worrying about someone breaking in line.
There are two basic questions to answer here. One: do you love basketball or are you a miserable asshole? The second, which has very personal implications for me: Do you come to the game with an agenda, or turn on the television hoping to see meaning created?
Thus we arrive at the small matter of whether FreeDarko (noun) ever be FreeDarko (adjective) again. At some point, FreeDarko turned five years old, which makes us one of the longest-tenured sports blogs going. You think I would have noted this milestone before now, but I didn't—and not just because of Shoefly's early struggles with Blogger (he's back on Boxiana and pure as ever, by the way). FreeDarko is somehow both an experiment that should have burned itself out a long time ago, and a scrappy survivor. The latter doesn't suit me, and the former makes a mockery of the fact that I still write for a living.
You can say that we take the NBA too seriously, traffic in obscurities, or are out of touch with the average fan. But you can't accuse us of not being open. And that's why I'm looking forward to 2010-11 in a very special way, with an amount of gusto greater than or equal to the dread I felt in 2009-10. For FreeDarko, then, the Heat are the gift to end all gifts. I just hope the rest of the world hasn't gone so far that this team blows up in their face. Or wait, maybe I do.