Yearly Archives: 2013

Winning isn’t Everything

Winning Isn't Everything

Kobe Bryant is all about winning. He’ll do whatever it takes — especially $48 million contracts. So was that guy who said “winning isn’t everything.” Apparently, it’s the only thing. You probably don’t find this strange. I don’t either. After all, that’s what we’re about. Being competitive. We want our teams to win, our kids to win, our pets to win, even our fantasy teams.

But what if winning wasn’t just an outcome? What if it wasn’t the truth? What if it was more or less a concept – like time – that we use to contextualize our sports experiences? After all, measuring our lives in seconds, years or decades seems pretty shortsighted. And so maybe winning is too.

Look at it this way — is there anything more important and less understood than time? For something so pervasive, time is really hard to define. We really don’t know that much about it (scientifically, that is). All it leaves are its traces; the universal laws we can’t seem to undo: Skin wrinkles, fruit rots, beer goes flat. In this sense, time is really a whole bunch of entropy. Everything – from the hair on your head to the garden out back – is always moving towards a greater state of chaos.

Like time, sports are also entropic. They tend to progress towards greater chaotic states. The start of an athletic event – very much like the start of a universe – is compact and highly energetic. At a precise moment it will suddenly and rapidly expand to fill box scores, human consciousness and the internet. Over the next 48-60 minutes (depending), that previously neat and tidy package will unravel and progress towards a messy, complicated ending. That’s just the way of sports. It’s also the way of the universe.

The intricacy along the way cannot be understated. Look inside this microcosmic universe and you’ll see players tire, game-plans fail, shots fall short. But there, amidst all that madness, is a universal athletic truth — Everyone will try and stem that chaos. They will do whatever it takes. Coaches substitute and adjust game-plans. Players drink electrolytes and use deer antler spray. Spectators switch seats and invoke witchcraft.

If we know one thing about life, it’s that things tend to unravel and don’t tidy back up again. From this perspective, “choking” and “losing” are par for the course. They are naturally occurring by-products of life. Because life isn’t perfect. Everything just wants to fall apart.

The beauty of watching an athlete strive to keep it all together in the face of these universal chaotic realities — that’s what sports are all about. Chris Paul‘s dribble hesitation, Roger Federer’s footwork, a human being plunging from thirty feet into a body of water and not making a splash. It’s these moments that make us realize that nothing is perfect but that is the joy of sports — It’s the illusion, if only for just a second or two.

Often times, winning is a natural product of this elusive perfection. But defining these awesome athletic processes through a myopic lens of “we won” or “you lost” is doing sports (and the universe) a gross injustice.

So next time you watch an athletic event, remember the densely packed particles in a 0-0 score and all the chaotic possibilities they will rush out to become. Then remember that’s what we’re made up of. The planets, stars, galaxies, everything. It’s about the little things. Same with sports.

The World According to LeBron James

Lebron

LeBron James didn’t deserve last year’s championship. Ray Allen bailed him out.

I’ve heard that more times than the Lorde song. First off, Ray Allen bailing anybody out nowadays is a pretty slim prospect. I haven’t seen Jesus carry his team since he turned down Denzel and that offer from Big State (or did he?).

Anyway, it got me thinking. What if I really do have Ray to thank for everything? Is the universe/NBA nothing more than a deterministic chain of events following a universal law of cause and effect? Without Ray’s shot, am I just a Cleveland choke artist all over again?

Because if the present moment is truly necessitated by a bunch of other events and conditions that preceded it, I am nothing without Ray. I’m the goat of Game 6. There is no Game 7, no Finals MVP, no Samsung Commercial. My legacy is built on a house of Shuttlesworthian sand and fog.

Look, I’m not a big fan of philosophy. I tend to over think things and most decisions I make are universally panned anyways. But I don’t think our actions are part of a bigger plan or an unbreakable chain of events that started billions of years ago. Some people call it determinism. This King doesn’t like the sound of it.

If everything in the past necessitated everything in the future then can’t we just bypass Ray-Ray’s shot all together and say I single-handedly destroyed the Spurs because of, I don’t know, dinosaurs? Cavemen? Or was it trilobites?

I’m not interested in that kind of world. Before you tell me, “of course you aren’t, ’cause you just want the credit for what Ray did,” you should know that such conditions excuse me from all my transgressions. I’m not responsible for the Decision, or that Clown Parade in Miami. It was all already decided in the Universe’s grand plan. I had no control over my actions.

So yeah, it’s convenient but I’m still not interested. I don’t think events are caused deterministically by prior actions (read: I did not win the 2013 NBA Finals because of Ray Allen). I’m not saying there are no such thing as causes, I’m just saying that there isn’t a single outcome for any one cause. Just like there isn’t only one “the one.” There are probably closer to thousands of people who are “the one.” I love Savannah, and I’m glad she’s the one, but she’s probably not the only one. She’s just the one I ended up with.

So when all you people out there status-post on Facebook about how great your significant other is, don’t forget there are probably a lot of other great people out there too and that you’ll probably break up with the person you’re currently with.

Cole is good at baking. But so is Scott
Cole might be good at baking but so are millions of other people

And so, sure, Ray’s shot against the Spurs was huge. It had a whole bunch of strange energy and it helped change the outcome of that series — I’d call it momentum but we all know that’s imaginary.

But the effect of that shot wasn’t deterministically determined. All it did was tie the game in that present moment. That’s it. The future was a whole bunch of undetermined possibilities. And I determined them. Without me, my body and my phenomenal skill-set, the future was nothing but immeasurable quantum space-time noise. I alchemized that meaningless fuzz into an NBA championship. End of story.

Maybe The Chosen One is fitting after all. I am the Chosen Distributor of the Magically Infinite Possibilities of the Universe.

But so too, are every single one of you.

Look, I get the reason behind all of the hate. If Ray doesn’t make that shot, I lose. That’s true. But that’s just one small part of the story. After all, we’re not strangers to a single, fluke event — our rapid universal expansion.

But are you saying that you had nothing to do with your life? That you don’t deserve the cupcakes you baked or the children you’ve worked hard to raise? Some dense-hot-expansive-jackpot-particle-system does?

Basketball, much like the universe, is made up of alternating layers of action and reaction that aren’t just indeterminate — they’re infinite. You’re not just a puppet on a bunch of cosmic strings.

So stop hating, haters.

A Festivus for the Rest of Us: Alternative End-of-Year Sports Awards

kids_dragging_treeIt’s that time of year again! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Festivus for the rest of us!

A lot has happened this year. The football death machine is finally winding down and the Pro Bowl is going to be Super Cool. NBA teams are figuring out what they’re made of, famous players are turning into zombies, and David Stern’s end is nigh.

What’s more, the year is almost over! Soon we can start anew – New York Knicks style – with even hollower promises of getting things together, joining a running club, and not eating pints of ice cream at 3AM whilst on Tinder.

It’s really a time for rebirth, the holiday season. One last time to drink, eat, watch TV, and capitalistically consume ourselves to a final, metaphorical death before we wake up shivering in front of a Christmas tree wearing elf pants.

So when you’re talking words with those strangers you share DNA with, reaching for the Fireball to kill the pain, praying that Michael Bublé sounds different in another room of the house, just remember — it won’t, and he doesn’t.

Instead, check out this Alternate Holiday Award Celebration! People do some awesome things for the holidays. In honor of the Festivus pole, let’s mix it up and dish out some alternative sports awards.

The Catalonian Christmas Award

Catalonians have a tradition of putting a defecating man in their nativity scenes. They also have a Tio de Nadal, which is a pooping log that’s put in a fire on Christmas eve and beaten with sticks.

The award goes to the sports teams of New York! Thanks to Eli, Carmelo, and the Nets for making the holidays in New York resemble poop. Given a chance, the city would gladly beat them all with sticks.

The South African Cookie Stealing Award

South Africa has a tale about Danny, a boy who was murdered by his grandmother after stealing Santa’s cookies! This insanely irrational overreaction award goes to Joey Crawford, the only man this holiday season who will gladly T up his own children, eject his mother-in-law, and call an offensive foul on the ham.

The SantaCon Award

Lousy, loud, and drunk Santa Claus pub crawls! Nothing says America like vomiting and fighting people who don’t believe in Christmas. This award goes to the American in all of us — the Dallas Cowboys. Managing to stay relevant for all the right reasons – like losing and making really solid strategic decisions – the ‘Boys will always have our drunken, obnoxious hearts.

The Ukrainian Tree Decorating Award

Ukrainians decorate their trees with spiders and spider webs. None of that glittery weak stuff. This rad, black metal award goes to the Carolina Panthers, who have one of the most bizarre color schemes in all of sports. Nothing says awesome like black, silver, electric blue, and cats!

The Austrian Krampus Award

Krampus is a Christmas devil who beats naughty children with branches. Remember to behave, if not for the fear of unactivated charcoal but for your own life too, kids. This award goes out to the NFL and Roger Goodell for their giddy willingness to punish smaller, less powerful components of football in order to take the spotlight off the real guys in charge. The NFL will always take the moral high ground, so long as it doesn’t involve losing money.

The Japanese KFC Award

The Japanese have a tradition of eating KFC on Christmas Eve. This soul-sucking consumer award goes to ESPN, for airing commercial after commercial about guys pulling beer out of glaciers and older men creeping on their wives now that they’re physically capable. I’ll lose it if I have to ask another question like “Why is there a bar in the middle of an antarctic glacier?” or  “Does every guy who went to ‘State’ suffer from ED?”

The NBA All-Terminator Team

Terminator-Arnold-as-TerminatorHaving done the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, all that’s left is the unstoppable. We’ll call this the All-Terminator team in another outdated Terminator franchise reference.

This squad is reserved for the players who are pretty much unstoppable in their nightly greatness.

After all, a Terminator is a humanoid robot that is equal parts infiltrator and assassin that can withstand nearly every 21st century firearm as well as James Cameron’s screen dialogue.

Click Next to see the All-Terminator Team.

The NBA All-Underrated Team

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[tps_title]NBA All Underrated Team – 2013[/tps_title]

We’ve taken care of the Bad and the Ugly.

Next up, the “Wait, That Guy is Actually Really Good” squad.

This NBA all-underrated team is reserved for players who are having great seasons but are either unheard of due to geographic location, under-appreciated because of past reputation or just play for the Kings.

Press “next” to unveil the players.