Home. Away. From Home.

Some thoughts on home as I bid farewell to the West Coast and return to the Midwest.

at_anchor_after_the_journey___by_sarah_bk-d7wr1id

Sarah-BK at DeviantArt (Link)

I’m not thinking of this as going to school in Oregon, I would say. I’m thinking of this like I’m moving to Oregon.

I’m going back h-…to Wisconsin for winter break, I would say. I’ll be spending most of the summer back at my parents’ house.

It had been my dream for years to move to the Pacific Northwest, preferably as close to Portland as possible. Going to grad school down the road at Oregon State University would be my excuse to transplant my life into a new environment. I was elated when everything came together perfectly as I was accepted to OSU and was offered a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.

Many Wisconsinites were skeptical of Oregon and weren’t sure why I would want to move there. I thought it couldn’t be more obvious – forests, rivers, mountains, and the ocean, a beautiful land occupied by people who actually care about preserving, using, and enjoying that land. Clean air. Liberal politics (whether you vote red or blue). Coffee, craft beer, fine wine. Friendly people. Flannels, beards, and tattoos. Music and writing and the freedom to express yourself and your creativity. The Trailblazers and the Timbers.

I wanted it all. I wanted that to be my home. I wanted to build my life there. I was ready to trade the snow for the rain and the heartland for the coast.

Less than two years after crossing the Oregon St. bridge in Sturgeon Bay and arriving at Oregon St. University in Corvallis, it’s over. I’m in Wisconsin again, and this time I brought back a Master’s diploma and everything else that would fit in a rented Suburban. Soon I will be moving to a suburb of Minneapolis.

My stay in Oregon was, in some ways, the worst time of my life. It was also a fun time of tremendous growth. I matured and accomplished much. And it almost broke me.

Let me stop you right there, smug Wisconsinite: the fact that I’ve returned to the Midwest has nothing to do with some sort of shortcoming on the part of Oregon. Oregon didn’t fail me; I failed it.

Oregon. Fucking. Rocks.

Even in my limited experience of the state, I found it to be a special place. The land itself has a mystical quality which I can only begin to describe. Flying into Oregon feels like entering into some sort of enchanted realm, and it stirs a sense of peace and freedom within me. It’s that freedom which I may end up missing most. The land and its people are imbued with this liberty and possibility which allows you to stay the way you are or become something different, to rest at home or venture out, to seek civilization and culture or the wild solitude of nature. It is for good reasons that Oregonians are notorious for rarely travelling outside their state.

Oregon is great, but I failed to fully enjoy it, let alone make it my home. Why exactly I failed is a long and complex story filled with social anxiety, regular anxiety, chronic illness, depression, and panic attacks. I lost 15 pounds, and I don’t think I was supposed to. As much as Oregon was and is and will be a place where I could see myself happily making my home and living my life, it didn’t happen. It never became home, and I didn’t become an Oregonian.

Confessing my great failure and hinting at my brokenness is cathartic as well as embarrassing[1].  It also underscores the challenging nature of my personal quest to find my temporary home in this world.

There are many platitudes and truisms that define home – it’s where the heart is, it’s wherever I’m with you, it’ll always be where you come from. I’ve found that, while these all hold some truth, they fail to describe my experience. Like so much in life, home is mutable, sometimes transient, and a site of labor and love which runs across time and space in unexpected ways. Like so many lessons learned in life, my long journey home has been a revelation in mystery and misconception.

Some people make their home in more or less the same place they were born and grew up. It’s quite common in Wisconsin, and makes for a provincialism which is in some ways a real bummer despite its charms. This is not the case for me; I don’t intend to ever live full-time in Wisconsin. But after being away, I love the place I grew up more than I have in many years. I have a renewed interest in the land and the culture, and I more readily embrace aspects of both whereas not long ago I was quick to distance myself. I intend to get back into hunting and some other outdoor activities[2], and every year I come closer to being a Packer fan[3]. Reconsidering my relationship to where I grew up has also engendered an ongoing personal project of exploring, recovering, and developing my Scandinavian heritage. Living on my own thousands of miles away redefined home for me as it relates to roots. And yet this will not be my home. I still feel myself searching for that elsewhere.

Being away also changed the way I view the relationship between home and family. I do not find the two to be synonymous, but they are symbiotic. Before moving, I was ready to be away from my family; college had given me that confidence. I carried on very well for long periods of time on my own, but eventually it became obvious to me that my family was an intense source of love, support, fun, and self-definition. They have never been more important to me, and my renewed investment in these relationships has given my extended family an increased importance in my life as well. Being closer to my family is restorative, and it will make Thanksgiving not a total bummer this year.

And yet, my sense of home is not tethered to the location of my family. Striking out on my own brought me back into the fold, but the same rebellious independence which drove me thousands of miles away remains. As I have found in almost every facet of life, some sense of balance is the most beautiful order of things. As much as I like spending extended time in the house I grew up in, I don’t feel I can become myself living there. Truth be told, I think living in the same city could be similarly restrictive.

In my search for home, I’ve come into full contact with one of the most ardent desires of the human soul. The briefest consideration of my favorite films, music, and books is saturated with the theme of seeking, protecting, and treasuring a sense of being at home. And I believe that this is part of our longing for a better country – that is, a heavenly one – and our glimpses of Eden within a sense of exile[4].

It feels, as I write this, that I have very little to add to this defining aspect of the human condition [airhorns for cliche], especially if “all” I’m saying [airhorns for scare quotes] is that the concept of home is a beautifully balanced mess of contradictions and relationships with yourself and others and I’m at a point where I don’t feel like I have a clear sense of it  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Do I need to say more than that to make this worthwhile? It depends on who you ask – maybe the personal aspects of this blog post don’t mean as much to the readers as they do to the writer.

But perhaps this insight into the hiddenness of home is revelatory for some. After all, it was not so long ago that my sense of home was dominated by wanderlust, an independent spirit, and the determination to build a home from scratch. I was certain about these things. Perhaps some of you, especially those who are in similarly transitional stages of life, are also just now finding out how elusive and variable a sense of home can be.

Fortunately, my failure in Oregon is not the end of my journey in seeking a home – it neither consigns me to containing my notions of home to the place from which I came nor does it prohibit me from trying a similar venture again. The experience fundamentally altered my perception of the world and my place in it. It caused me to rethink the importance of investing in a familiar place and familiar people while also reinforcing how vital it is for people who are able to go experience a new place for an extended period of time. I find provincialism more distasteful than ever, and yet I am now sure that there is something to be said for developing and expressing the features of your roots.

In passing I mentioned a move to Minnesota. I decided I wanted to move there and live with my brother when I realized that the next transition after graduate school would be easier for me if I could do it closer to home and to family. There have been moments after making this decision when it felt like an admission of defeat and an easy way out, but as I have prepared for this transition which is fast-approaching, I am learning how exciting – and unknown – this new opportunity is. It is also, I am realizing, in some ways the natural evolution of my personal journey of building a home. It’s a voyage into uncharted waters on a familiar vessel.

Minnesota is a Midwestern state with much in common with its eastern neighbor, but those who have spent time in both will tell you there are significant differences in the land, people, and culture. I will be living in what was Grandma’s House before she re-married and moved, but living somewhere as an adult is very different than visiting there as a child. I can make a half-day’s-journey home for a holiday or whatever, but this is still well beyond the reach of mother’s apron strings[5]. It will be easier to see most of my friends, but if I’m relying exclusively on weekend get-togethers I’ll have reached new depths of social ineptness[6]but moving to a new city gives me the opportunity to meet new people, and some of these meetings might blossom into lifelong friendships. I have visited big cities (including Minneapolis-St.Paul) many times, but I’ve never been able to develop a knowledge of and relationship with one through regular experience. If I am able to get a teaching job, it might be very similar to the teaching positions I have held before, but it will be in a new school with new curriculum, potentially with more responsibility. I will be able to go to church with my brother (going on your own is the worst), but it will be a new church and with that comes the chance to be grafted into a new community. And, of course, in addition to this theme and variation motif, much of what I will see and do will be altogether new.

I will journey into this new land with hard lessons and new dreams, carrying them less like a heavy pack and more like the small box of seeds Samwise receives from Galadriel. I continue on with the hopes of finding some of the things I hoped to find in Oregon, but supported by the base I have reestablished in the land and people from which I came.

Perhaps in ten years I will be living in Grandma’s House, or maybe I will have made the down payment on a cabin on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Perhaps I will wend my way back to Packerland, or give Oregon another go. Maybe I will take a trip to Norway and never come back, or go to school in England and decide it suits me. It’s possible I’ll have found a physical place in this world which feels – really and truly – like home. But for now it is something I carry with me, searching out my unique voice in this world of oneness.

It’s uncertain. But that uncertainty is where I exist, and I’m beginning to make myself at home.

Shoes off, please.

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

-Peter

Notes

1I suppose catharsis and embarrassment are meat and mead for writers, no?
2Not that these are distinctly Wisconsin things. My time in Oregon contributed to this as well.
3This may be just because I am in love with Aaron Rodgers. Also I lowkey wish we could abolish the sport of football but that’s for another time.
4Hebrews 11:16; J.R.R. Tolkien.
5Yes I just gender-neturalized that and you can deal with it.
6People who love me are telling me to not be so hard on myself so I decided to rewrite this but I thought I’d use a strikethrough because 1. I was on a roll using them 2. I’m playing with genre or getting meta or breaking the fourth wall or whatever it is that MFAs do (not that I’m jealous or anything) and 3. I still want you to be able to see what my original thoughts were.

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The Warrior Way

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson

Here are two things you need to know:

  1. The Golden State Warriors are really good.
  2. The New York Knicks are really bad.

Those things didn’t happen by accident. In Golden State, we have an example of brilliant franchise-building. In New York, we have one of the NBA’s biggest disasters. Here is, in the terms of the laity, how this works. Hopefully you can see in the Warriors a model of success and then understand how that methodology has not, is not, and will not be used by the Knicks. Here we go.

The Warriors had a magical run in 2006-2007 when they, as the 8th seed, knocked off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. The following year they inexplicably missed the playoffs despite winning 48 games. After that things went south. Their record the following season was 29-53. The next season things were even worse as the managed only 26 wins and management fired head coach Don Nelson. So let’s take stock of where the Warriors were when they had quite clearly bottomed out:

  • They had a lot of young guys. One of them (Stephen Curry) would eventually become a star. A few they had drafted didn’t turn out so well (Kelenna Azabuike). Most of their young guys would go on to be solid role players somewhere else (Anthony Randolph, CJ Watson, Anthony Morrow, Brandan Wright). They were not exactly full of ascending stars.
  • They did not have many established veterans that were going to help them win. Stephen Jackson was past his days with the Pacers and would soon dissolve into old-man territory and Corey Maggette was done being a productive player.
  • Andris Biedrins was inexplicably making 9 million dollars per year.
  • Their best player, Monta Ellis, was in his fifth year in the league and the jury was somewhat out on whether or not he would be a real star.

So basically they lacked a nucleus of reliable team leaders. Their best player was a ball-dominant volume scorer who didn’t play defense. There was not a great core of young guys to improve. They were also going through coaching changes. After firing Don Nelson, they gave Keith Smart only one year to try to improve things before turning to Mark Jackson, who inspired his players and forged a defensive identity. Let’s look at their current roster and how it was built from year to year:

2009: Draft Stephen Curry, who will become an MVP-caliber player.

2010: Sign-and-Trade for David Lee, who becomes their first major building block to go alongside Stephen Curry.

2011: Draft Klay Thompson, who comes into the league as a great shooter, but develops into a max-contract player.

2012:

  • Trade for Andrew Bogut. The trade cost them Monta Ellis, but Bogut was the kind of center they needed. He was also out with an injury for the season when they acquired him, which helped them to tank and….
  • Draft Harrison Barnes, who has become a very nice young player.
  • Draft Festus Ezeli, a big man with some potential. Then, in the second round, they
  • Draft Draymond Green. An absolute home run draft pick. Second round picks almost never develop into this kind of player. Green is now the versatile glue for the league’s best team.

2013:

  • Sign-and-Trade for Andre Iguodala. A versatile, unselfish, defense-first quasi-star player. Would fit on any of the league’s 30 teams.
  • Sign Mareese Speights, a decent post player who is now a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

2014:

  • Sign Brandon Rush, a fine reserve player at little cost.
  • Sign Justin Holiday, a formerly undrafted free agent two years out of college, who looks right at home giving the team some important minutes.
  • Sign Shaun Livingston, one of the league’s best backup point guards.
  • Sign Leandro Barbosa, a veteran, former Sixth Man of the Year.

So now in 2015 the Warriors have two star players in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They have really useful veterans in David Lee, Andrew Bogut, and especially Andre Iguodala. They have young players growing into big roles. They have a ton of depth. They are built to play unselfishly and they excel defensively and offensively.

Much of this is due to the organization’s decision to fire Mark Jackson after last season and hire rookie head coach Steve Kerr. I can’t say that this is necessarily part of the model for building a champion, but it certainly seemed like Mark Jackson was reaching his ceiling as a coach and that Steve Kerr is a brilliant basketball mind. The bottomline is they found the right coach.

The Warriors face two major problems. The first is injuries, especially to Bogut and Lee. The Warriors can’t be blamed for buying damaged goods, as it wasn’t certain if the two were injury prone or not. They need both of them, but especially Bogut to be healthy in order to win it all, but at the very least their depth has allowed them replace those two when they are not in the starting lineup. The second problem is salary cap. They have been smart with spending their money, and have been good at clearing space, but Draymond Green, who is currently playing for less than a million dollars per year, has an expiring contract and will be worth probably 12-16 million dollars per year starting next season. Additionally, Barnes only has one more year before he is due for a raise. They have 15 million per year in David Lee, who only has one more year left, so that may give them some flexibility, but the fact remains that the Warriors won’t be able to keep all their guys, which makes their depth and development of young players all that much more important.

Bottomline, this is about as well as you can build a team. But it takes 5 or 6 years, smart spending, player development, and superb drafting.

So, using what we know about the Warriors, take a quick look at the New York Knicks:

What they’ve done: Demolish a team they built through the draft and by one great free agent signing (Amare Stoudemire). Trade away half that team for a ball dominant player (Carmelo Anthony) and run Amare into the ground until he’s broken. Have identity crises with coaching changes. Sign a bunch of really old guys. Trade for Bargnani. Re-signing Carmelo Anthony

What they’re doing: Insisting on running a system none of the players want to run, getting rid of players to clear cap space (and guarantee a major tank).

What they will do: Try to use their abundance of cap space to sign star players to join the aging Carmelo Anthony in order to throw together a team that a second year head coach can take to the Finals….

Bad signings, bad trades, bad coaching, and a dearth of developing young players.

There are a lot of ways to build a team in the NBA. Here we see, pretty clearly, one outstanding way and its opposite.

Oh and the Cavaliers are in trouble.

Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at pcd5834@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

Soli Deo Gloria

The SneakyGoodSportsGuy

Knowing You Don’t Know is Knowing

Josh Smith is the latest example of the confusing equations of basketball chemistry.

Josh Smith

Early on in Season 1 of Breaking Bad, Walt and Jesse melt a guy to destroy any evidence after one of their early blunders as meth cooks results in two dead traitorous drug dealers. They run into a problem when Jesse, being his typical lazy self, does not buy one of the flimsy containers that Walt recommends and instead tries to melt the guy in his “perfectly good tub.” Jesse does not understand chemistry, and as a result the acid eats through the tub and a disgusting mess of blood, bones, and viscera tumbles from the second story of his house, when the grim work would have been comfortably contained in one of the thin plastic containers that Walt had told Jesse to use.

True, Jesse was high when making his decision to use the tub, but anyone comparing the two items would probably take the tub over the container. Why wouldn’t it work?

Chemistry is a very complicated and precise science. Equally delicate is chemistry on sports teams. And, I would contend, no other sport relies on it quite so heavily as in basketball.

It is what Isaiah Thomas called The Secret. “The secret to basketball is that it’s not about basketball.” His most famous example is when the 1989 Detroit Pistons traded Adrian Dantley, one of the best scorers in the league, for Mark Aguirre. Was Dantley a better player? Yes. But Aguirre was better for that team. It was a people move. As a result, the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 1989 and 1990. The Secret explains why numbers do not dictate which teams will win and lose. In a video game it might work to throw together the highest-rated players and let the computer simulate win after win for them, but assembling a roster in real life does not work like that.

The Secret is why Bill Russell is the greatest center of all-time and not Wilt Chamberlain, despite what most statistics might say. And it’s why the Detroit Pistons are 7-0 since waiving Josh Smith (more on that in a few paragraphs).

One of the things that makes basketball beautiful is how open-ended each trip up the court is. Five individuals, each with the freedom to do the same things, must work together to find a way to throw the ball into the hoop. There is a vast ocean of possibilities each time. This makes the inverse true, as the defense must work together to fend off any number of different attacks. Many people understand the best ways to score or prevent a score; what almost no one understands is how to use twelve guys five at a time with these ends in mind.

And, remarkably but perhaps not surprisingly, these concepts are found at all levels and forms of basketball. If I’m not with the right people in a game of pickup ball I become basically a neutral offensive player and barely hold my own on defense, especially if I’m on a team with space-eating big men and ball-dominating perimeter players. If the ballhogs on my team are good enough and scoring well, we may go on to win a few games, but we might just as easily lose. However, sometimes when I’m on a much less talented team I become one of the most potent offensive threats on the court and become a no-fly zone on defense. And, oftentimes, we win when this is the case. As pickup basketball standards in Northeast Wisconsin go, I’m decent. But, depending on the powers of the Secret, I can be below average or really quite good.

Failure to understand basketball chemistry results in coaches misguiding their teams, front office people making bad signings, players failing to improve their personal play and the play of their teammates, and fans totally misunderstanding how to evaluate players. Even advanced analytics in this data revolution, despite creating better measurements of player value, fail to credit the work of many players.

To use another personal example, my younger brother’s work on the offensive end of the court is greatly underappreciated. He’s a senior in high school, backing up a center who has some more polished scoring skills. My brother’s scoring abilities are limited outside of being able to knockdown midrange stand stills and foul shots when he gets to the line. However, the team often functions well on offense with him in the game, even if he does not score a single time or get credited with an assist. How? First, no one, and I mean no one, passes from the high post like my younger brother. While many players look to score the second they receive the ball and slow down the offense, my brother looks to make a quick, crisp pass to a teammate. The ball flies around when he’s in the game, forcing the defense to be on the move. He also sets excellent screens, routinely freeing shooters on flares, and he’s put people on the floor before with his linebacker build. So is my brother a good scorer? No. But he is a good offensive player, even if it doesn’t show up in the box score.

So now let’s talk a little about Josh Smith. Here’s the question: What is Josh Smith good at? Because, as has become fairly clear, he is not a good NBA player. His teams in Atlanta never made deep postseason runs and he was a disaster in Detroit. It seems to be clear that Josh Smith does not make his teams better. However, Josh Smith is both talented and athletic and he can do things on the basketball court that most NBA players cannot do. So what do you do with that? And what does his new team, the Houston Rockets, do with that? He is going to make plays for them in the Playoffs that will swing momentum and excite the crowd, plays that most other players could not make, like a monster dunk or a tremendous block. But he will also stall possessions or outright end them with a 17-foot jumper with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. How are teams supposed to know what to do with talented players that see their former teams improve after losing them?

One final quick tangent related to Josh Smith: think Rudy Gay from Toronto to Sacramento. While he was in Memphis, Gay was considered one of the league’s rising stars, and like Smith he could do things most other players could not. Then, in Toronto, he became a detriment to the team despite being one of their more talented players. Since trading Gay to Sacramento, Toronto has been one of the best teams in the East. But early in this season things seemed to be going well not only for Toronto but for Sacramento as well. Gay, coming off a nice end to last season and with a more reasonable contract, was playing at a very high level alongside the ascending DeMarcus Cousins and a slightly revamped roster. Sacramento may have even had a shot at the Playoffs. However, things have gone wrong in Sacramento since then, as the team struggled while Cousins battled illness and head coach Mike Malone was inexplicably fired. And while Sacramento may be quickly fading out of the Playoff hunt, this remains: Rudy Gay is playing well for only 12 million dollars a year. Once consigned to the analytics-driven scrapheap of volume-scorers-who-don’t-pass-or-play-defense-and-get-paid-to-much-money, he’s now one of the league’s best superstar sidekicks (to Cousins).

So, with all of that being said, while there is little way for the Rockets to be sure, maybe there is some hope for Josh Smith in Houston. Ironically, a player who has not made his teams better could make, at the same time, not one but two teams better.

Basketball is marvelous.

Hey, what do you think of the blog’s new look? Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at pcd5834@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

Soli Deo Gloria

The SneakyGoodSportsGuy

The Hollowed Ground of Jabari Parker

Bucks black and white

It’s been about four days since Jabari Parker crumpled to the floor with a torn anterior collateral ligament. It’s been about three since we found out that it was more than a sprain.

Since that game, which ended with a Khris Middleton dagger, the Bucks have been beaten in a close contest at Portland and edged the Kings in the return of DeMarcus Cousins. They still appear able to hang with every team they face and the playoffs still seem like a very real possibility.

The rest of the sports world has continued to move forward, if not on, as well, with Rajon Rondo headed to Dallas, Jay Cutler going to the bench, the Grizzlies purging the enemies of the family true Grindfather style, the Warriors splashing down from everywhere, the worst nationally televised football matchup in history, the Padres assembling a star-studded outfield, and Frank Caliendo absolutely merking “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Mike and Mike. We even came within a couple phone calls of a Manny/Mayweather fight.

But at the expense of dampening your spirits, I think we need to give the rookie season-ending injury of Jabari Parker its due.

What I’ve noticed is that it just feels off. Pardon the paltry eloquence, but if the shoe fits, you must write it. On paper, from a national sports syndicate point of view (which is not mine, of course) it is indeed another injury; guys get hurt all the time. And, after the initial discussion of “Is this a trend?” “What does this mean?” “Do we need to make changes?” “Keep them in school longer!”, Parker’s injury settled into another starling suffering a setback that he can probably make a full Peterson-esque recovery from.

But that misses the fact that FSN is still running this surprisingly cool promo:

If there’s one player that’s featured in that, it’s Parker. And this is no anomaly. I was at the Bucks game on the 13th, and that franchise is about two players: Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greek Freak). Those are the two jerseys most prominently displayed in the merchandise stands, and just looking about you can tell they are clearly the faces of the franchise’s new era. The Milwaukee fans adore Giannis, like a prized possession that just makes them happier by the fact he exists. And does he ever exist. Parker gets a different kind of applause. While they treat the Greek Freak with jubilant optimism, Parker is hailed more as the Milwaukee Messiah who is quickly figuring out the NBA game. Maybe Giannis will be a Kawhi Leonard/Kevin Durant hybrid, maybe he will just be Nic Batum. Jabari Parker WILL be an All-Star.

The future that the promo urges viewers to “own” is 90% Giannis/Jabari. Despite the other nice young players and the underrated veterans, the reason the future is looking up in Milwaukee is that combo of prodigies. And now it’s in an unsettling state of uncertainty. There are now all sorts of questions about what the future will look like as Parker begins the road to recovery.

And I can’t help but think that this hasn’t mattered as much as it should. As you may know, I love sports narratives, and Jabari’s has been well documented and years in the making. Think about it: The Chicago kid starts making national news as a junior in high school rated as the number one recruit in the nation. At least one of his games at Simeon Career Academy is broadcast on ESPN. He goes to Duke, the highest profile basketball school in the country, and shows flashes of brilliance, the “Oh this kid’s the real deal” type of brilliance, as the second-rated recruit behind only Andrew Wiggins, and the pair are part of a draft class that had teams getting more tank-happy than the Shedd Aquarium. The Bucks end up in the lottery by accident and get the second overall pick, which was actually not a bad place to be as sorting out Parker/Wiggins/Embiid at number one was a debacle for Cleveland. And then Parker, who the Bucks were hoping to get, TANKS his workout with Cleveland because he wants to play for Milwaukee. A prodigy WANTS to play for MILWAUKEE? I think the Jae Crowder caps are appropriate here (by the way am I dropping too many references in this article? Let me know it’s been a while).

The Bucks take Parker, and everyone is excited about a future with great young players, a burgeoning head coach, new ownership, and eventually a new arena. Like there’s so much going on I don’t even need to mention Mallory Edens. Well I guess I just did, so never mind.

Parker was improving, Giannis was terrifying, the team was winning, and it all looked like the the plan was coming together.

And then Jabari Parker just crumpled to the floor without anyone touching him.

I remember this strange emptiness when I found out. I was watching the second half of Marquette vs ASU as Luke Fischer made his debut and suddenly made the Golden Eagles look like a tournament team. In the back of my mind I was awaiting the results of the MRI. I saw a “Breaking News” alert on the crawl line and I knew what it was going to say. I can’t say I was surprised, as this sort of thing just seems to happen to the Bucks, but it just didn’t seem right. It’s that helpless feeling when you get when a character dies in a book or television show. No matter what you do they’re gone. I texted my homies and their responses were “F–k” and “I f–king knew it. I knew this shit would happen.”

But it didn’t blow up Facebook and Twitter, and ESPN was done talking about it 24 hours later.

And as I pondered some of these things while cleaning the Culver’s dining room, I looked around at the customers that I loathe so much (okay that’s a strong word) and thought about how little Jabari Parker means to the average Wisconsinite. Most of them have probably never heard of him, and if they have, a nineteen year old black kid who bounces a ball for a living probably holds little of their attention. The fact that his dreams are on a year-long deferment are of no consequence to them.

And that’s kind of infuriating, as Milwaukee has not one, but two basketball saviors, one of them being an Aegean lottery ticket and the other being a can’t miss next big thing. The Bucks got both of them. That just doesn’t happen. But it did happen. But then again, if a baller falls on the hardwood and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Jabari Parker is a big freaking deal, and has been for a while. Now he’s, for the purposes of the observer, gone.

Look, you gotta live your life one day at a time and keep working your way forward. There’s plenty of good basketball for me to watch and plenty to write about. The Bucks have games to play, players to improve, and franchise decisions to make. Jabari Parker has rehab sessions to go to. Culver’s customers have more poor food choices to make. It’s always one more thing until you die, and that’s the way it should be.

But, in this case, it just feels a little off.

I’ll just leave this here.

What do you think? Do you care? Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at pcd5834@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

Soli Deo Gloria

The SneakyGoodSportsGuy