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.

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At 9/04/2010 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to try to show this to everyone I know who appreciates basketball in any way.

Can you explain "For me, this is a question of whether FreeDarko (noun) ever be FreeDarko (adjective) again," please?

Sorry, I tried and tried, but just couldn't get it.

At 9/05/2010 12:16 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Ah, youth.


WV: dishin

At 9/05/2010 1:21 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

"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?"

Yessir! It's been one of my great bewilderments that so few, in the wake of The Decision, have wanted to talk about the basketball. Perhaps it's just the fear of mortals perceiving the potential of old world demi-gods, but so much silence about the actual playing of the game in the midst of so much chatter has been fascinating and crushing. I hope it blows up in their faces.

At 9/05/2010 3:53 AM, Blogger Sylvan said...

I worry though, that the game has gone meta and that what we are seeing is a bizarre new reality in which offseason speculation is actually more entertaining to many than the game itself. The regular season is a time of crushing reality, all possible outcomes are reduced until you have one, inevitable champion and a lot of disappointed fans. The offseason is a time of mostly false hope, but it is more temporarily gratifying than a first round sweep.

This new reality could be grasped even as the playoffs dwindled on; speculation about LeBron vastly overshadowed the drama of another Celtics-Lakers showdown. Now the hordes have gorged on the fattest offseason ever, yet unsatiated they turn to Carmelo and Paul their next meal. It is a tantalizing game of "Who's Next?" in which whatever lies behind the door is far less pleasing than what could be there.

At 9/05/2010 10:36 AM, Blogger Bob Saietta said...

Like Nagarjuna found, isn't there the possibility of a third, middle way? Can't one be an asshole (like yours truly) and appreciate the possibilities/potential for otherworldy hoops (again, like yours truly) that the '11 Heat (or as the asshole in me likes to call them, "The Golden Girls." [I certainly think there's merit in playing the GG theme song, "Thank you for being a friend!" during player intros for the Miami-ites.]) possess?

Like the Heat themselves, I have a feeling half the time they'll play such a phenomenally beautiful brand of ball , that it'll render "The Decision" utterly meaningless. And there will be also times that we care more whether Mav Carter or World Wide Wes is really pulling the strings of these uber-marionettes or what shoe(s) Nike pummels us all with in celebration of their faux greatness.

They're all those things (and more). It's just surprising to see FD espouse such a Manichean glass to examine these cats

At 9/05/2010 11:13 AM, Blogger Dan said...

so i know liberated fandom isn't inherently about rooting for the underdog or the maligned, but when you prioritize the artistry of the game/swag above w-l you're going to end up rooting for more than a few romanticized but ultimately non-champion players/squads. can the most fd team in the league next year also be an mechanical and efficient juggernaut that cruises to the finals? i don't know if miami is like the purest realization of the liberated fandom/positional revolution/beauty of the game/etc. axis that fd pushes hard or if it will render meaningless the fd-ness of the rest of the league, make yesterday's fd heroes like jennings, wall, etc. entertaining but ultimately meaningless figures in the nba universe

At 9/05/2010 11:41 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Is it okay if my dislike of Lebron is purely aesthetic and has existed since probably his second season onward? There are some people who might not like the Heat for basketball reasons, don't forget.

At 9/06/2010 5:46 AM, Blogger Ayesha Sadiq said...

You have done a marvelous job! I am really inspired with your work.

At 9/06/2010 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both you and the RHCP have works of genius, so when you both occasionally spew nonsense words of gibberish, everyone still thinks it has meaning?

A simple "the noun is the website, and the adjective is Liberated Fandom/Positional Revolution/psychology of the athlete/whatever is on my mind right now" would have sufficed.


Who comes to explaining their writing with an agenda?

WV: dallan

At 9/07/2010 9:58 PM, Blogger Charles Jeffrey Danoff said...

The photo in your article is all rights reserved. Did you ask the author for permission? If, as is befitting of a 5 year old blog, you did, my apologies for bringing this up. If you didn't, you should.


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