The Warriors lost.
Everyone was nervous, and everyone was watching. At the half I drove quickly down to get my wife a burger. There was no one on the road, just after 6 PM on a Sunday. It usually takes me 25-30 minutes round trip, but on Sunday I was back in 15 minutes. I thought, they're up by 7. Is that really it? Will there really be a parade?
No, that wasn't it at all. J. R. Smith got rid of that notion with a few 3-pointers and then it was grind and grind, miss too many, throw a couple of passes away, and miss the 3's that were the stock in trade. It was sad, that's what it was, it was sad. It was just so sad. Everyone aching, trying, trying to recall the magic, but coming short, or wide.
So, my friends, John, Bob, and Steven all asked me the same question, how do we understand it? How, indeed. There are times when it helps to be from Philadelphia, like Bob and me. Phillies, 1964, no need to say more. That was slower, drip drip drip, morning after morning coming down to eat breakfast at Vanderbilt Hall at med school, auslanders saying, what happened to Shenkin's Phillies?
When the guys get awards, they say it's humbling, to be MVP, or best something. Nah. This is what's humbling. Losing when you are ahead, that's what's humbling.
It was Cuomo père who said that one campaigns in poetry and governs in prose. That's one way to understand it. All year in their campaign the Warriors practiced poetry. Multiple passes, no-look passes, behind the back, and long rainbow arced 3-pointers in droves. Beauty to behold. Lightness and glee, joy and pleasure and appreciation. Thank you, God.
Enter the grim, the grimacing, the driving with shoulders butting out, with pulling and pushing, with non-called fouls off the ball, with getting beat up for no good reason, only for bad reasons. Enter prose. The Warriors pulled on memory, what was it that got us here? Try that, what we used to do, what was it? Couldn't find it, not at the very end, just couldn't find the ease and the poetry, and the shots wouldn't, couldn't drop.
That's one way to understand it, prose and poetry, probably not too bad. Or think about the gods. Not the Christian God, for all its popularity on the Warriors squad – everyone wants God on their side, everyone wants to be rewarded for following a Godly way, everyone is blessed. But thunder and lightening make more sense in basketball, the realm of the Greek gods; Greece, where sports were king. Some gods backed the Warriors – I like to think Zeus was among them, but maybe not – all the Greek gods were problematic, after all (http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-13-biggest-assholes-in-greek-mythology-1454132475.) It had to be a god guiding Steph's 37 footer in OKC. Even Harrison Barnes won a couple with last minute threes. The gods smiled all season long. Was it Zeus behind Draymond in the first half Sunday night? Athena? I like to think Dionysus honored the Warriors in their mindlessness, in their beauty, but then they got carried away, which is what Dionysus does. Better scholars than I can dope out who was on the other side. Some damn god was. Nemesis tailed Curry, and had his opponents hold onto him, hit him, injure him. A whole season of absorbing punishment, unprotected by the refs in the employ of Hera and her minions. Shumpert falls on Curry and it's Curry's foul? Who blinded the zebra? The gods were fighting, and we couldn't see how they influenced play, but we know they did. Someone got Draymond suspended. Someone cursed Barnes. It had to be the gods.
Or, there's always Zen. Kerr said during the long run to 73 and 9, “...maybe all the talk and all the focus on the record has gotten us away from our process and what makes us who we are, what makes us pretty good.” The process, which is all you control. The end result? Hope that the gods will be kind. When the ball leaves your hand, it's out of your control and it's the physics that tells it where to go, and physics is the realm of the gods. Got to trust the process, let it go, don't point – don't aim and point, HB! Don't will the results, will the process.
In the end, it just wears you down. What did they play, 110 games? And it came down tied to the last minute. Which god was it who had the last breath?
Oakland was quiet today. My physical therapy office was quiet. The gym was quiet. Our usual Monday lunch at the Rockridge Cafe found us only the second customers for lunch at 12:15, when usually there are only one or two tables empty. We were quiet. Beauty had lost, prose had won, our community, home of the Warriors, had lost. We were all quiet.
But isn't it great? It's only a game! It's not really life and death, right? Sure, it's basketball, the game of the gods, but it's only a game.