Thirteen Ways Of Looking At The 76ers

A compendium of takes inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poem
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I.

Cowards!

You have pride in how smart you are, how careful

Like a pampered cat, stealing to cream

But so do many who are so afraid to love

They must forget even that they are afraid to love

And believe they are happy

In enjoying the distance from promise

To delivery

Rather than the distance to hurt

 

Until

The parts of themselves which want to live

Re-emerge suborned into a new wild feeling

A savage, misplaced joy

 

You are sitting cross-legged in a grave,

Laughing

Your mouth filling with dirt,

Thinking about how much the Earth tastes

Like that sweet life

You forgot long ago


 

II.

C’mon. What else are you supposed to do when you can’t sign, and can’t keep anybody you might trade for? What else are you supposed to do when you need a titan and the titans of the league only want to play, these days, with other titans? The titans almost overthrew Zeus, once. It’s too much for you, a mortal, to bear.

You can only raise them together, as Rhea learned.

 

III.

Listen, maybe it’s the only way or…maybe there is no way. Maybe all the planning, of all kinds, can only get you close enough that your next lucky break will take you over the top. Maybe whether you get there by trying to amass draft picks or sign free agents or trade for players would have, if anybody looked at it

The same geography.

Like looking at a world turned inside out, and upside down, casting

The same shadows, on the long dark of the sky.

In that sense, its acolytes are those capable of believing a meaningless world has meaning.

 

IV.

Yes. Maybe they are the ones who can believe that it is possible to control

Everything. And rule the geography of our fears.

Maybe they can believe that the right policy could stop…

Handguns or poverty.

There are many who believe games can be beaten. I am not one, but

I have grown too weary to feel even that I am right to be weary

 

V.

It’s not a moral problem; it’s a logistical problem. It simply won’t work. Let’s say you strike big two out of three years. That’s two big contract extensions you run into in three and then four years. Let’s say you got three guys you want to keep but you can only keep two and build around them. You guessed so right once; shouldn’t your luck be running out?

Shouldn’t it? Oh, god. What are the kinds of death we carry within us and how soon will they blossom? Is there more folly than in rebuilding anything, now, when a breath blows us from the perch into uncountable silences, darkness beyond measure?

 

VI.

Who cares, anyway? The Sixers six. Get it? Like, suck? Wait…The Sixers six…six. Oh no. Oh god. IT WAS IN FRONT OF US THE WHOLE TIME.

*A hellmouth erupts from the earth, crisping Independence Hall*

VII.

To think that winning it all is the only thing worth doing is the purest sort capitalist fiction.

To think that winning most games -- the majority of the season -- is junk. Or that being fun is wasteful. Or playing hard, or displaying in your body many kinds of aesthetic perfection is nothing without the surmounting confirmation of hardware is what capitalism is about.

But capitalism is a participatory fiction in the way that breathing is a participatory fiction. We may indeed reside, in our quicksilver souls, in some gentle place, a plain beyond remembering, the lamp which makes these shadows. But these clay houses are arks in the river, and we can more imagine the earth than fish can imagine the sky.

VIII.

I don’t even like basketball.

 

IX.

What would it be like if I didn’t like basketball? I love basketball. Even my languid athletic body feels powerful knowing the angles of your jump so I can step into it and unleash a shot so high your lunge becomes a wave as at an air balloon. I have jumped less than 4 inches from the ground but there is nothing you can do to stop a shot as soft as a hyacinth.

As I grow older, the scars on my ankle bending me to Earth, I learn to use geometry against you. I can wander to the low block and use a lot of the glass. I do not often rebound, because of your feet and the wounds I’ll always have from them already but I am like old roots when you are posting up and now I see the court so slow and beautiful

 

X.

How do the Sixers decide who to put on a summer league team? Or a practice squad? Is there a Donald Trump joke to make here?

How does the performative fiction of a reality retain its fiction in the face of paperwork? It doesn’t. The iron law of the ridiculous is that it cannot stay ridiculous mundanely. We are familiar with everything mundane. We encompass in our souls the things which look like the things we expect, like letting a familiar face into our house whether we remember or only think we do: Summer league squads for a pro team of summer leaguers and a bear pelt of hair that looks like a wave approaching Mt. Fuji. Soon, that little part of us remembering fiction cheers the art, but it sounds like honest approbation.

There is nothing about staring into a mirror that isn’t frightening, for we all look too much like ourselves.

 

XI.

No Hinkie-Pinky*, kids.

*A Hinkie-Pinky is when a coach destroys a franchise for the proletariat.

 

XII.

#Butactually, everyone who becomes the boss subverts the guilt of their success into blaming those who didn’t. All socialisms are doomed, if it’s humans running them. Marx finally came to know bitterness quite well.

For example: If it works, what will we have learned from Samuel “Colt” Hinkie? A process as long and detailed as Sam’s will only work if it is a very good plan, if it was good from the start, and there are no other “good” basketball plans. What if it is a very good plan? Will every team which struggles be purposely bad for half-decades? If they do, the league can’t allow it. But more importantly, if they do they will not succeed. The one thing no one in the NBA can do is create more impact players than there already are. The very idea defies itself; impact is a relative determination.

So, whatever happens, we will have learned nothing. Just as Hinkie always intended.

 

XIII.

A blackbird isn’t black, it just

Must have been caught by the one who described it at a moment,

When the rainbows shimmering on each glossy wing

Were silent

When the sun was dull.

 

The blackbird

Wears a Sixers jersey

But,

Julius Erving’s


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