One molecule in either direction, and the piece completely changes.
Let’s revisit the definition of “zero-sum game”.
Circuitously, basketball is NOT a zero-sum game.
There isn’t (contrary to the name) a basket full of points (or balls) waiting to be snatched up by the two opponents.
Theoretically, there is no ceiling.
And likewise, no floor.
But there must be a winner.
And, as there are but two parties, a loser.
Again (to project to infinity), a basketball game COULD go on literally forever.
But at the end of 48 “minutes” (into which are interpolated a myriad of [standard] stoppages) there is a reckoning.
So it’s either one or the other.
Team A or Team B.
Winner. Loser. The end.
And the next match is the same…all over again.
Which conjures the pejorative spirit of naysayers regarding sports.
What, they might argue, is the point?
Does it really matter so much whether Team A or Team B wins?
Let’s switch to war.
Is there such thing as a “winnable” nuclear war?
To even entertain such a thought is thoroughly harrowing.
And yet daily we are slipping into a media-induced bushel of “cold wars”.
Or, things are heating up.
[no pun intended]
Which wraps back around.
Basketball is not war.
At the end of a game, two old rivals can embrace.
They can breathlessly remark upon the action which has just exhausted them to near-collapse.
Wars don’t end as nicely.
Indeed, we are now too technologically advanced (as a planet) to even wage large wars anymore.
A large war (or world war) would likely be the end of life as we know it.
Which means, we have armed ourselves to the teeth.
And so have several other players.
And our biggest weapons cannot realistically ever be used…at least against a competitive adversary.
So what is this article about: basketball or war?
It’s about basketball…in the shadow of war.
Like a cloud.
Beneath a pall.
I would be doing you a disservice to write about basketball…without writing about war.
And I would be doing cinema a disservice to discount televised sports as merely “other”.
[If I knew anything about Jürgen Habermas and his book The Inclusion of the Other, I would write about it here.]
Cinema can play with time.
So why can’t writing?
Novels can play with time.
So why can’t film criticism?
Films can be engrossing.
So why can’t a random blogger from Texas?
When we write…as if our lives depend on it…we make good stuff.
The great composer Puccini once said [and I paraphrase], “Give me a grocery list and I could set it to music.”
Give me a prompt.
And I will game it into a filigreed edifice.
Because I love people.
Of two laws.
And the other, God.
Tonight’s basketball game was not a religious experience.
But it was a blessing all the same.
A man named Kawhi Leonard, who has a large cross tattooed on his arm along with the words “Fear God”, helped a team called the San Antonio Spurs defeat another known as the Memphis Grizzlies.
Another man named Mike Conley, who has never received a technical foul (for poor sportsmanship) in his life, almost prevented this outcome.
Two classy guys: Leonard and Conley.
Not “two wild and crazy guys” 🙂
But more like a title fight.
Fear the silent assassin.
Yet another soft-spoken gentleman, LaMarcus Aldridge, muscled and willed his team to victory.
But let’s talk France for a moment.
Probably the biggest surprise tonight was that Tony Parker, a Frenchman born in Belgium, had 27 points.
That’s a lot of points. For him. At this point in his career.
How do you stop surprise?
How can surprise be utilized?
Have no fear: the RAND Corporation will not be parsing this come Monday morning.
I am, as we say in the U.S., the consummate “armchair quarterback”.
But I have a life too.
A small, strange life.
And when I am not busy publishing scathing invective here, I’m occupied with being the best human I can be.
Perhaps the two aims cancel out.
But into my life, like Cannes into the lives of French film critics, has come…the NBA playoffs.
And tonight my team advanced.
Yes, dear friends: God willing, there will be more of this punishment.
Which means I must become a better writer.
Because my aim is to serve.
To create value.
And to disregard value in the pursuit of l’art pour l’art.
Ars gratia artis.
Let’s talk lions.
A nightmare for “bigs” in the NBA.
Wide-bodied. Exceptionally strong. Tenacious!
Randolph has that passion which makes a good defense very difficult to execute.
And so the Spurs can breathe a sigh of relief that they have seen the last of “Z-Bo” this season.
Marc Gasol is another immovable force.
Watching Marc and Zach wear down the Spurs was a thing of sad beauty.
Banging. Bumping. Clawing. Grabbing. Thrusting. Nudging.
POUNDING. HITTING. STRIKING. SMASHING.
A rough, rough zone…”in the paint”.
So we thank David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon, Davis Bertans, Kawhi Leonard…
Hell, the whole team!
Anyone in the vicinity of Marc and Z-Bo got hammered.
Bruised and contused.
And all the while, this spritely little angel (Mike Conley) is weaving in and out and making long distance rainbows with absolute finesse.
The Grizzlies almost did it.
Forget Chandler Parsons (for a moment)…
If even Tony Allen had been healthy, then this series might have ended with a different winner.
It was that close.
Talent colliding head-first with DRIVE.
And who is who?
Two yin/yang projectiles to shortly level the playing field.
It’s not a winnable nuke volley.
It’s not even war.
It’s more like a street fight.
Crossed with a ballet.
And jazzy ball-bounce rhythms.
Some good-humored sorcery.
Sleight of hand.
To make you wonder.
“How did they do that?”