The NBA Finals ended Sunday night, and in its aftermath, we've had a couple of days of heady celebration. (Not quite "dropping $110,000 at a club" heady, but it's been pretty fun!) For Dallas Mavericks fans, the small matter of Thursday's 250,000-strong victory lap still remains, but for the rest of us, the cigar smoke has started to dissipate. And though our eyes are growing clearer and our hearts are still full from arguably the best postseason in recent memory, with apologies to Coach Taylor, we can most definitely lose. Maybe even a whole season.
With the games all done and this sobering specter now staring me square in the face, I am doing the only thing that seems reasonable. I am watching, over and over, a video of a dog acting like a dog, shot with the thin pretense that the dog is sad about not having any more NBA basketball to watch for a while, and identifying wholly with that dog.
This dog's name is Tucker. He belongs to "Big D," a writer at the sports blog The Victory Formation. Monsieur D tells us that he is not a particularly large fan of the Association, but that his "negative attitude towards [sic] the NBA hasn't rubbed off on" Tucker.
He's 13 years old, arthritic as all hell, probably moves as well as Shaq, and he's started to become very vocal. Today, I took him out into the yard and he immediately ran over to a basketball that he hasn't played with for more than ten minutes in over three years. I think he knows there's a lockout coming ... and he isn't very happy about it.
Welcome to the Not Very Happy About The Lockout Club, Tucker. Yes, the name's literal and kind of a downer, but it's actually a pretty fun club — our daily Salmon Paper Fancy Space Dance contests are competitive, but in a "we're in this together" sort of way — and we could definitely use a scruffy, fun-loving friend in the mix. (In addition to Trey, I mean.)
I don't mean to undersell the severity of the issues at play here. I understand that there are some very serious financial divides that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have to bridge before we get to see games again — how the owners and the players' union divide basketball-related income, the prospect of a hard salary cap, whether or not limits should be placed on the length or guaranteed payment of players' contracts, and more. (If you haven't been paying attention and want to get caught up quick, Al Iannazzone has a nice breakdown of where both sides stand on the principal issues in The Record of Bergen County, N.J.)
I understand that billions of dollars and the future direction of the sport are at stake, and that solving challenging problems becomes all the more difficult when massive egos are in the mix and both sides are battling for control of the moral P.R. high ground. I get that these are real problems, and because I get all that, I wish I could help.
I wish I was a financial mastermind clever enough to come up with a deal that made the numbers work well for all concerned parties. I wish I was a good enough salesman to tell the story of the deal to the key stakeholders in a way that makes them believe the compromise will leave them all looking like champions of public service in the fans' eyes. I wish I was quick enough on the draw to get it all done by lunchtime.
But I'm not, and I'm not, and I'm not. Mostly, I'm just a dog who got let out into the yard about 20 years ago, ran over to a ball I found there, and sidled up next to it because I liked the way it rolled and bounced. I know I'll probably have to let it go in two weeks; I just hope you don't mind me choking out a few barks and whimpers in the process.