Author’s Note: I’m calling it Space Jam 2. I know it’s called Space Jam: A New Legacy, but I’m just gonna call it Space Jam 2.
Welcome to the age of Space Jam 2, a movie that was more inevitable than death and taxes. Yes, after 25 years, the Looney Tunes gang is back to do roughly the same thing they did last time. I enjoyed it. Others didn’t. It’s okay to like or not like a movie. What I don’t understand is the utter disdain for this movie when its predecessor is not a good movie either. Maybe it’s time to take a long, cold look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “when did I get so old?”
When I say that I love basketball, I say it with all of the conviction that Senator Sheev Palpatine claims to love democracy. Basketball, most basketball played, is just a means to an end. That end being the NBA, where the game is played at its highest level. Still, there is an undeniable charm and magic to the amateur game, especially here in Indiana. For the better part of the 20th Century, Indiana held a massive, all-inclusive high school tournament called Hoosier Hysteria. It meant that teams from around Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Chicago burbs (aka The Region) could play against teams from towns with populations smaller than the aforementioned schools’ graduation classes. It was something special, but for the last quarter-century it has been absent, reformed as tournaments for each separate class of schools. This year, all 67 games of the NCAA’s signature event will be played in the state of Indiana. In some way, for at least one year, the Hysteria has returned.
There may have been a better title for this, but I’m not going to spend a crap-ton of time mulling that over. I’m not a headline writer nor do I have one at my disposal.
Do I think my kids hate sports? Hate is such a strong word, but I’m sure they do not appreciate them like I do. In fact, I’m not sure within the past 30 or so years of two wives, two different families and my own family anyone likes sports as much as I do. I spent a considerable amount of time watching football by myself at various Thanksgivings. Of course, my first marriage was into a family of scholars and scientists and for Thanksgiving they brought out flow charts and graphs about their latest work (I’m not kidding). Brilliant people, but criminy it’s Thanksgiving. As such, the TV became my friend… but not the Lions, never the Lions.
Okay, the only person who ever had the same zeal for sports that I have was my father. That’s where I got it from. Whatever team I wanted to win; he’d want the other. That was the nature of our relationship. He was certainly athletic, one of those multi-sport high school stars who ran roughshod over his opponents. He was good. Country good as he grew up on a farm, but not Jerry Sloan country good. That’s a far higher level.
Back to my kids. They were treated to a ton of games as they grew up. I was in advertising, and one of my clients for five years was WSCR The Score. So yeah, we went to a lot of games. While my fandom was certainly sated, I think I completely overwhelmed them.
But they played sports. Not as much as I did. I had something to prove – that I could beat my dad in basketball. Even though baseball was my favorite sport, it’s too hard to beat another individual at it and frankly he was a better hitter than I. No, I picked basketball. It took a lot of effort, and finally when I was 14 or so I beat him at HORSE. I know it hurt him as he was not the best at sportsmanship. Pretty sure he accused me of cheating. But that was normal. Accusations of cheating caused us to stop playing cards and board games when I was growing up. I was 9 when we stopped.
Imagine being a Bulls fan in your 30s. The glory days came and went long before Hi-Def TV, DVR, and handheld-miracle supercomputers. The name Derrick Rose probably elicits more trauma than fondness, and that’s it. That’s all you know since childhood. Pain. But what if you could appreciate the league from a different perspective? Instead of basketball being a causeway between football pain and baseball pain, why not enjoy the beauty of the game through the players that make any night something special? I’m here to help. This isn’t going to be a list of stars. You know who LeBron James and Kevin Durant are. You know they’re worth watching. This is a list of 30 players, one per team, that deserve some attention this season.
“It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind
never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in”
Elton John, Candle In The Wind
Greetings, True Believers! We have, at last, arrived in mid-April August. The NBA Playoffs are here, and with them comes the misery of fifteen eliminations. Gradually over the next six weeks, the character and will of our greatest heroes will be tested. No matter if a team is swept in the first round or lose the Finals in triple overtime of the seventh game, they deserve tribute.
For the last decade, I have taken the time to give each team that fails to make the Finals their due respect, a rite my friends and I have come to call Candling- blaring Elton John’s anthem to Marilyn Monroe as another team’s light is quenched. For most of the basketball world, a team is eliminated and instantly forgotten, just a stepping stone for someone better. Not in my eyes. These playoffs, rather than documenting the great achievements of the winners, I will be your guide as we pay tribute to the most necessary party in sports- the losers.
“Tell that motherfucker about me,” said the rookie point guard. He had just been challenged to take an open three by James Harden, Tuesday night in Memphis. Harden, one of the game’s premier shooters, tried to get into the head of Morant. Instead, he boosted the confidence of a young man who had already proven himself on the big stage. Even in the age where (almost) everyone can shoot the deep ball, where (almost) everyone has some sort of deceptive layup package, the NBA was still not prepared for Ja Morant.