Last Friday morning I was in the middle of a field in Fergus, waiting for my wife to compete with our dogs in a big Agility trial. To kill time I played a game of scrabble against my iPod. There was no competition involved with that. I killed it again. And what actually made it a little fun was how I scored on two great words for triple word scores. The word PIG was sitting right up against the triple word square in the bottom right corner of the board. I had an S to make PIGS for the triple, but I didn’t stop there. I was able to use another three delicious letters running up from that S to make ANUS. There it was - PIGS ANUS. Not a huge score, but good enough to beat an iPod. And just so satisfying in an aesthetic sense. I may never be able to enjoy scrabble in the same way ever again. It was like getting a royal flush. You just can’t feel good about the chances of getting another one again, even if the laws of probability are not effected.
Now had I been using an iPod Touch, I might have scanned the basketball stories of the day, and come across the breaking news about Hedo and all of the reaction in which “pig’s anus” might have been used in descriptive terms a few times. Of course I wouldn’t have gone that far myself, and not just in consideration of inflaming cultural sensitivities. I would have just thought - here we go again.
I’ve come to be pessimistic about this team very late in the game, and I think it’s mostly because I never found any value in mucking around in this garbage. I do think that fans here make too much of stuff that doesn’t really matter, toss around misplaced hatred like it was chemical dispersants in an oil spill, and if they are not going to enjoy watching a winning team they settle in on the enjoyments of running the various assembled losers out of town in a hurry.
There you have it. The NBA has it’s storied franchises - the two most storied which will add new chapters beginning this week - and they have franchises that seem to pull material from the Weekly World News. I guess we can feel fortunate to have Ed Anger instead of the handful of cities that just lie in a state of continual apathy. But I’ve veered from always having room for optimism, towards pessimism, and right toward apathy myself. How many more Hedo tales and losing seasons before the fanbase as a whole just shrugs?
RF’s own Acie has created a series of matchups over in our forums, where people can vote for the most hated people in this team’s history. It’s quite impressive, a little cathartic, and eight rounds do not exhaust all the possibilities. That’s a lot of hate to fill 15 seasons. And who can we pick out as players that are unquestionably loved? A man who barked? A guy who was eternally out of shape but always found an improbable shot and a smile? Little Mugsy Bogues? I would say Alvin Williams, but even he would stir up toxic feelings regarding all the money he collected without being able to play. In any case, it’s a short list.
If this is going to be a storied franchise, the question is whether any of the stories will ever be anything other than horror stories. Rondo gave me goosebumps with his incredible dive for that ball on the floor in the Orlando series, but instantly it also brought to mind Havlicek and Bird. The Lakers just keep adding to the list of big games won with big baskets at the buzzer. The Raptors keep looking like a team where a mass exodus is either happening or about to happen. Or being dreamt of by the fans. In other words they do not typically even look like a team. But I’ve sat near guys in the ACC that spend the entire game filling the ears of their dates with all the intricacies of the hurt egos and spurned stars that have been churned up within those four walls, so I guess it all serves some purpose.
Right now I’m liking the fire I see in my dogs when they run their agility course, and the way my wife and them work as a team. I’m starved for a little competitive flare where all the drama always waters things down. There is our little Bonsai, who loves driving my wife crazy by refusing to do a number two all day long. That can really ratchet up the tension each time they’re about to go into the ring. But that’s all the drama there is, and I’ve yet to see dog anus become a problem when it comes time to perform. It’s just a little thing to overcome.
The Raptors should be so lucky. I thought the overcoming stage had happened a few years ago. When Bryan Colangelo arrived I expected something different. I was pretty certain that he could make this a place that players would not be in a rush to leave anymore. But it seems that maybe the odds were stacked against him, and I should have recognized that as soon as John Salmons talked things over with God, and God found Toronto wanting. Fish Anus.
And so here we go again, and again. And at least we know the story still goes on. This player or that player might want it to end for themselves, but our hatred makes certain it will all live on, saving the team from apathy, and pushing it forward while the love in the hearts of Celtic and Laker fans ensure that there is an NBA Finals with any kind of remote connection to the game’s past glories.