It was a new low point of the many in this inane life I chose watching grown men play games.
Short on sleep and long on methamphetamines coffee, my eyes and attention were one with Adrian Wojnarowski’s Twitter account as I waited in suspense for another adult to choose his place of work .
With each mounting clue of Lebron James’ return to Cleveland, I, who had firmly believed he would return to Miami for at least one more season, sunk deeper and deeper into this warped dopamine drip I had entered.
I was no better than a junkie waiting in a back alley to see if his dealer would come through or not. Is Woj gonna get me the stuff? Maybe I should try Marc Stein? What about Brian Windhorst?
I wasn’t even any better than every girl I’ve ever mocked for watching any asinine reality TV series. This was The Bachelorette and I was waiting to see which team would get the final rose.
In between asking Google how much caffeine would kill a 200-pound man and misplacing my frustration onto my poor friends and poorer mother, I removed myself from the insanity to allow for some scarce self-reflection.
This is goddamn ridiculous. How did this become to be?
In only a couple of days, I had spent more time and received more enjoyment from monitoring NBA reporters’ timelines for tweets about exotic car transportation trucks and people pilgrimaging to a man’s house than I had watching the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs.
None of it nearly resembled the sports stories my grandpa passed onto me of Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse at home plate in the 1970 All-Star game.
What I had only recently and reluctantly began to accept had become hugely evident in that moment: the transaction of sports had superseded the action.
Fans, myself included, have grown to care more about “what team is acquiring which player” than the actual game action in which those moves will make any difference.
For all the conversation about transactions this past week, only one move warranted this level of intrigue and significantly changed the power structure of the league — LaMarcus Aldridge signing with the San Antonio Death Star.
Okay, Demare Carrol (who I like, actually) signed with the Raptors. Cool. They have a 22% better chance of advancing to the second round.
Okay, Greg Monroe signed with the Bucks? Milwaukee’s 2015-16 ceiling shot way up from 47 wins to 52.
The inconsequence of these signings only augments my curiosity for this shift, the explanation for which I believe is two-fold:
1. The simulated roster construction of fantasy sports has made an increasing number of fans attracted to transactions from belief that they could manage a roster better than many general managers.
After all, coaches and front office executives make for much easier, relatable targets of downward social comparison than professional athletes.
Fan X sitting at home with Doritos crumbs falling from his face knows he can’t run a pick-and-roll in the NBA, but he has played enough NBA 2K franchise mode to know that giving Reggie Jackson 80 million dollars isn’t smart.
And more importantly…
2. If the core purpose of sports’ existence is to entertain, then let’s call the majority of free agency for what it truly is: male soap opera.
Reports about Player X leaving Team Y because he didn’t get enough attention from Player Z is every Kardashian episode and Star Magazine cover cloaked in the masculinity of sports and served to fans as episodes of a TV show I like to call “Days of Our Lives for Dudes.” (Yes, I know many women enjoy sports as well. Sorry ladies.)
The show’s latest and greatest episode bestowed us with the most spectacular story plot since KG said Melo’s wife tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios and then they almost fake fought.
For those who missed it here’s a synopsis of the DOOLFD episode:
DeAndre Jordan is an underappreciated housewife living in the shadow of her husband, who regularly lets DeAndre know when she doesn’t meet his standards by overcooking the roast or forgetting a signature on their tax-exempt forms.
Overcome with frustration, Mrs. Jordan eventually decides to leave her husband and kids in search of the validation her husband refuses to give her.
Lo and behold, Mrs. Jordan meets mistress Mark Cuban and his $80 million dollars at a bar, where he tells her that she is the prettiest girl there (and also that he thinks she can be a Shaq-esque centerpiece of the Dallas offense..what?).
Cuban and Jordan have a week-long bedroom escapade until her husband(s) Blake Griffin and Chris Paul suddenly realize how much they need their wife and proceed to go crazy trying to win her back.
The episode climaxes as grenades of banana emojis are slung between her husbands and mistresses, whereupon Doc Rivers hops in a wagon which is tied to and lugged by Big Baby Davis from California to Texas, where they meet up with Chris Paul who paddled in on a banana boat.
In a showdown reminiscent of that in Anchorman, they confront a deranged Mark Cuban, who is carrying a trident for some reason, and a near-nude Chandler Parsons, who only seems to wear underwear when he’s not playing basketball.
Finally feeling the affection she longed from her husband, Jordan comes running back into his welcoming arms and 88 million dollars.
And of course the episode ended with Chris Broussard getting scorched for being bad at his job because that’s the way all these things should end.
Sports are entertainment; the less seriously they are taken, the more they can be enjoyed.
The more sports can resemble professional wrestling and the less I have to hear some graybeard bemoan a baseball player pimping his homerun trot, the better.
Nothing has made this clearer for me than Wednesday’s spectacular shit show.
Sometimes it’s okay to be more entertained by some soap opera than a Nets-Raptors first round playoff series.
DeAndre Jordan spurning the Mavericks and speculation about exotic car transportation trucks leaving LeBron’s house provided more “what the fuck is about to happen next?!” moments than almost any game ever could.
Wednesday night reminded me that I want with my sports more banana emojis and and drunk Mark Cuban stories and Paul Pierce’s terrible old person Twitter ineptness (YOU’RE A GOD DAMN RED BLOODED AMERICAN LEARN HOW TO TWEET AN EMOJI) and ridiculous hot sports radio takes and more ridiculous freakout videos from (un)masked fans and NBA players quoting Edgar Allen Poe and banana emojis.
None of this nearly resembles the stories our grandfathers proudly recounted.
And that’s okay.
Sometimes the best sports stories have nothing to do with sports.