DB.com Essay: We Don't Care Which Side Wins
Well, I'm not here to admit that moment has passed, only express the belief that it is there, floating in the dark, and inching slowly closer.
We're tired of this … this tug of war as the rich fight to get richer, as they quietly call us all idiots by claiming the flag they fly bears the name of the game they hold in the palm of their hands. In truth, every available inch of that cloth is tattooed by dollar signs … and a desire for more.
We know. They've all made sure we know. The foundation they've laid, that they seek to build upon or tear down, isn't something as intangible as love, as unquantifiable as passion, as immeasurable as fanaticism.
When a player gets cut, both sides tell us through different brands of sorrow. When a trade goes down, it echoes from players, coaches and front office executives either in veiled excitement or controlled anger. When a team is stolen from a city or state it's come to call "home," there it is, tossed as an excuse, a justification.
"It's just business."
We know this. On many levels, we understand it. Yet, when slammed against our face and made impossible to overlook, we can't help but feel our stomach turn. Something we willingly lift to the heights of myth, that we so often hand our unguarded heart to, cares so little about us.
Make no mistake. It needs us. We feed and nurse it and without us … it dies. In a sense, it could be described as a parasite we embrace and happily nourish. But, let's be honest, it's not. As Mavs followers currently know as much as any fan, there are rewards. There's a reason we've tuned in, a reason we come back and a reason we're getting pissed right now. It's not a parasitic relationship. It's symbiotic … when it's working.
The league doesn't owe us anything. As much as it may hurt, the NBA is not indebted to us. They just need to be careful when toeing the line … when pushing us to the point where our minds begin to consider alternatives. If you're going to draw a line in the sand, no matter how distant, be weary of leading one to stand where they must choose a side.
Which brings us back to that line, that line we may not even be close to truly crossing.
On one side, David Stern attempts to toy with perception while treating us like naïve, ignorant, and plain stupid children as he sullenly portrays the owners as poor souls held captive by evil players, as he paints us the sad picture of billionaire martyrs who've willingly given themselves to near endless sacrifice all in the name of making a deal.
On the other, the players pretend they're helpless to end the stoppage and thus helpless to help the fans, the arena workers, the "lesser" (in financial terms) workers who make all or a portion of their living nursing at the NBA's teet.
Both sides, and indeed the entire ordeal, scrape against any adherence to logic, any trace of a "partnership," as the goodwill built from one of the greatest NBA seasons in recent memory burns slowly away, a casualty of an ultimately meaningless war … at least from our, the fans, perspective.
We don't care who "wins" the negotiations. We don't care where the final BRI split lands. We don't care if billionaires or millionaires find a third hand to shovel the cash we throw their way into already bloated pockets. We don't care.
We just want the game. We want to feel the tiny wings sewn to our back as our team grasps at athletic immortality. We want, even if we fear, the extra weight tied to our ankles should they fail. We want what's ours, even if it's not. We want nothing more than the next game, and the endless prognostication, debate, second guessing, hope, regret, joy, pain, suffering, relief, revenge and … we don't care about the rest.
The fact that this calloused line floats towards us in the night isn't what we dream about, isn't what we long for. To us, to fans, this isn't just a business. It's a home for our passions, our devotions. The game, not the dollars, has made its way into our lives, and we simply want that back.
For now, we'll play 2K12, we'll watch our championship DVDs, we'll return to the broadcasts we can almost recite word-for-word from our DVRs (if we're so lucky), and we'll sigh at the absence of memories left unborn for the moment, left drowning in a sea of green boiling in the belly of greed as those who find OUR game in their hands defile that trust in the name of another dollar.
We may come back, very likely most of us will. Most will be quick to forgive once the new dawn breaks, but we won't deny this line in the sand. We may not be able to define exactly where it rests within each of us, but it's there … taunting us, forcing us to dread the day we must address it head on.
For now, we wait … for now. We're tired of this shit, but we'll wait a little longer.