The Worst Best Year

Jerry O Connell is on TV again. He is playing some relative of Magnum P.I. Magnum P.I. is the name of Tom Selleck in the TV show Magnum P.I. I do not know what the name of Tom Selleck’s character in Magnum P.I. is. In my opinion, regardless of whatever facts you may bring to me, the name of Tom Selleck’s character in Magnum P.I. is, indeed, Magnum P.I. I refuse to look this up. I will be actively furious should the name of Tom Selleck’s character in Magnum P.I. actually be Magnum P.I. And yet.

Thoughts I have because of the NBA.

I am grateful to the National Basketball Association for letting me know that, 1) Jerry O’Connell, though easily 70 to 80 years young, is still alive and capable of smirking, if he so wishes, and 2) the interconnectedness of economics and global political capital damages our ability to watch the apotheosis of jumping humans.

It angers me to assume that some of you reading this believe that basketball is not, in fact, the greatest sport ever conceived. I do not know you, should you be reading this, and I cannot, and never will, hopefully. Because of this, I have no issue assigning to you, the reader, a whole series of assumptions and prejudices that just so happen to coincide with the ones that I would like to argue against in a humorous manner. Ostensibly.

Right now, I am watching teams of basketball humans currently living in Los Angeles – one of America’s largest cities, I’ve heard – play basketball against each other. At any point in time, between these two teams, two to four of the greatest basketball humans are playing basketball. They astonish. They are straight up bananas good at basketball: a sport where humans express a rules-based prowess that differentiates us from the more physically impressive feats our ape brethren are capable of. Studious observers of Steph Curry will confirm, upon swishing one of his more egregiously X-men-ian half-court threes, he whispers beneath his breath, “Master ALL of the simple machines before you judge me, you condescending Dr. Zaius-ass-motherfuckers.” Deny this. You cannot.

Jared Dudley still plays in the NBA. 

Trump is still the President. 

I feel these two sentences are somehow connected but I cannot explain why or how.

The NBA has also made possible, by virtue of its universal appeal, a nexus of traditionally literary obliqueness with the utilitarian, functional, more readable, non-pretentious, adverb-eschewing ideal of sportswriting. How good is basketball? Imagine the succinct orgasms Hemingway would have had if only he had known of Embiid’s dominance in the paint. David Foster Wallace elevated the exhausted sports-as-blank metaphor to an artform, but he had no fucking clue that Giannis Antetokounmpo could cross the length of a basketball court in one step and extend his arms like Michael Jordan in Space Jam. The possibility of a future cyborg “Giannis” advancing the artform of dunking into machine-learning territory is the only legitimate argument against suicide in 2019. 

What makes basketball the most perfect sport ever conceived is its consistent storytelling. Every NBA game tells a complete story. Beginning, middle, end. The stories are varied and eternal. We even talk about contracts and speculate on future contracts. We find ecstasy in legal agreements. This is probably why people get married.

Joseph Campbell changed the name from Hero’s Journey to Kawhi’s Journey. 

A lesser known power of Superman’s is an eidetic memory. His intelligence is also enhanced by the sun. Superman’s dog, Kryptos, similarly from Krypton and similarly powered by Earth’s yellow sun, has its intelligence raised in the same relative manner and is thus as smart as a regular human. By the transitive property, Superman is smarter than regular humans in the exact amount that humans are smarter than dogs.

A common complaint about Superman: he is overpowered. Superman is a god. Narratives require conflict and all you can really do with Superman is find some convoluted reason to get Kryptonite nearby and yada yada yada. It gets old. Lebron is Superman. Lebron is now somehow underrated going into the 2019 season. Take us to Zion, we say. Beyond all of his God-like physical gifts, though, Lebron’s mental gifts are equally overpowered. He can remember every play in every game and recite what he did, what his teammates did, what the other team did in response, and his counter to their response. Do not bother with the arguments. Lebron is a god and, as such, above your goat conversation.

Steph Curry was Jean Grey. He went to space and lost Durant. Call him Phoenix.

I hate you if you hate James Harden. Hating Westbrook does not bother me. James Harden is a Tall-Tale. James Harden? More like John Henry! Or is he the machine? He is both and neither. He pounds the ball into the court, mighty forearms and mightier pudge. Then he shoots. He defeats the machine by becoming the machine and we do not appreciate those who venture into the abyss of the 3-point line and bring the abyss back to us. 

I do not like the Nationals. I do not like the Astros. I really don’t want the Nationals to win the World Series. Houston won last year, let them win again this year, I have no more love to give.

I am still technically a Bulls fan, but goddam it, everything they do is wrong. Everything. I hate them. It would be like if Trump-loving, cheapskate, lunatic, fucking monsters owned the Cubs. I bitterly remember David Blatt calling a timeout the Cavs didn’t have as Lebron shoved a dagger through Chicago’s heart. The unfairness. The sheer injustice of a distant, uncaring universe. That moment, when the ball swished through the net (fuck your four bounces, Lebron at least made our deaths quick), Derrick Rose’s legs were destined to become rags. Celebrity deaths come in threes. Lebron killed Hope, Justice, and Rose’s legs that night. I miss peak Derrick Rose. I miss Jimmy Butler. What a fucking asshole. Loved it. I miss Thibodeau.

This is not nostalgia. Zach LaVine? Get the fuck out of here.

Durant is Mr. Darcy. He needs to settle down. Who are we to argue with Jane Austen?

When we finally eat the millionaires and billionaires, or at least burn this dumbfuck country to the ground with them in it, I am willing to die protecting Nikola Jokic. One reason I love baseball so much is because it is one of the last physically intensive sports that still contains the Big Fat Guy Who Throws Balls Good (BFGWTBG). CC Sabathia, bless him, was for awhile the drunk fat guy at your drunk fat guy softball game. He just so happened to also be a professional BFGWTBG. Nikola Jokic is that to me. I breathe for him.

I strongly have no opinion on Kyrie Irving. I do not have the time and I pity the sportswriters that must have a take. It must be exhausting.

The Spurs have DeRozan and Aldrige and Dejounte Murray is coming back. Beyond that I don’t know anyone on their team and neither do you. If you do, you’re lying. If you’re not lying, I still don’t believe you. They will probably win the championship because Gregg Popovich is a blood-mage. His alignment is Lawful Neutral. He can cast Fireball three times before he needs to rest.

2019 is the worst year in the history of the human race. We should have rioted when Zion Williamson was injured. There should have been mass protests. We should have burned down PG&E a la Chilean protesters. There are other things occurring, I am aware, but Zion was our last hope. Same thing as in the Matrix. 

The Grizzlies will be “frisky” according to you, a dumb person. I do not care about the Grizzlies, I have never cared about the Grizzlies, I will never care about the Grizzlies. If this were a Twilight Zone episode and I, the only survivor, had nothing left but tapes of Grizzlies games, I would be so grateful when my glasses broke. Ja Morant changes nothing. Grayson Allen is in the NBA. That can’t be right. Fuck that guy.

The Knicks, Wizards, Suns, and Cavs are the Washington Generals. 

I have always had a soft spot for Ricky Rubio. I may watch a Suns game from time to time. In a perfect world, by law, Ricky Rubio would have to kill and eat Marco Rubio. 

I was interested in the Timberwolves when Thibodeau and Butler were there. KAT is obviously one of the most dominant players in the league. He had my favorite coach and my favorite asshole pushing him to play defense. They are gone. Andrew Wiggins, a man who is not good at basketball, remains. I feel insane most days.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is so good, when I type his name there are no red squiggles underneath. Do you understand? In America, we learned how to spell his name. America. This country. We used to change people’s names if they were hard to spell

The narrative going into this season is that the championship is anyone’s to take. Better put, there are now four or five teams who could win instead of two or three. Previously, the Golden State Warriors were Rafael Nadal at the French Open. Now they are only Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. The Clippers have Kawhi and Paul George. The Lakers have Anthony Davis and Lebron (who only needs one name – God only needs one name). Giannis is in the Eastern Conference. There are also other teams in the Eastern Conference. Houston has Harden and Westbrook. 

I am most looking forward to watching the Warriors again. Before Durant, when Curry began mortaring hoops with his instant release, high arc, and disrespectful shimmy – the basketball equivalent of getting T-bagged in CounterStrike – every second of every Warriors game was riveting. What if Steph goes off? It could happen at any moment. With Durant they were beautiful, yes, but not like that. I didn’t mind when Durant signed with the Warriors. I have no problem with juggernauts. Without the Warriors, the Raptors championship would have meant less. Defeating Sephiroth is cool, but defeating Ruby Weapon is the real challenge.

I hope I have convinced you that the NBA is the best sport. Enjoy it. Now. China’s probably going to start bombing arenas soon.

Jordan Holmes is a Chicago comedian. Listen to his podcast “Knowledge Fight”, where he and Dan Friesen examine Alex Jones. Follow him on twitter at @gotobedjordan.

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