They Can't All Be Winners, Part 30: Golden State Warriors

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Why am I so angry?

There is sometimes no impetus for it. I am sitting on a couch, contentedly playing Spelunky, and then I set down the controller, look out the window, and anguish arrives. My consciousness opens up like a punctured submarine hull and the world floods in. This is an affliction I have learned to manage, with water and deep breaths. It is just a feeling, a sort of psychic toe-stubbing. It goes away, so long as I let it.

I am periodically consumed by sensical rage, the yet-another-cop-shoots-an-unarmed-black-guy sort, the Exxon-paid-what-in-taxes-last-year? sort, a response to large-scale societal bullshit that’s worthy of high dudgeon. The lazy man’s defense against sad, inert resignation at society’s state is to give it a good cussing out, from time to time.

And then there is another kind, some mélange of jealousy, indignation, and hatred. This runs hottest.

* * *

The Warriors seem to be transitioning toward wrestleresque villaindom these days, but last season, they were darlings. There is a point at which something hits a level of popularity that renders it impossible to discuss. Beyoncé is like this. So is Chipotle. When those things come up in conversation, you agree enthusiastically or keep your mouth shut and nod, because even if you’re not on the bandwagon, you don’t want to be the guy who lectures people about why the thing they and 96 percent of humanity like is bad. No one likes a scold.

And yet: I have never liked Steph Curry’s youth pastor swag. Klay Thompson looks like he came out of the womb playing N64 Mario Kart, like his first word was ganja. Draymond Green is proof that reporters are so starved for remotely charismatic athletes that they’ll lionize a dickhead if he drops a few column-generating quotes. While the rest of the NBA world was delighting in the Dubs laying waste to the rest of the league, I was wondering if my eyesight was fuzzy.

I vexed over this for a while, and then, amid a February spent watching the Warriors, trying to glean what everyone else liked about them, I doubled down on my antipathy. It is a sour kind of thrill to, in the privacy of your living room, measure the size of an overwhelmingly beloved phenomenon, and think you know what? fuck this noise. It feels like blocking out the moon with your thumb.

* * *

Some days, I wake up in a fit. There are bits of knowledge that persist in me like a burning, unscourable mold, and I remember them as soon as I regain consciousness in the morning. I know I will never be widely acknowledged as a good writer. The kind of work I like to create best isn’t what most readers want. This doesn’t bother me by itself, but I have made a choice to eat and live indoors on the back of this writing that most readers don’t want. When I am out of a job, despairing at my career prospects, I get extremely angry at them for what they do. This anger used to swallow entire afternoons and evenings, gave me headaches and sweats. I once read a column I didn’t like, walked out my front door, and kept going for five miles until I felt myself calming down. On the bus ride home, the shame nearly made me weep.

My self-control has improved incrementally over the years. Case in point: I could put a prolix, seething rant here about the dullness and myopia that pervade sportswriting, how the field is dominated by condescending smarm-bags who trade in superiority and self-satisfaction but express themselves in dashed off mishmashes of jargon and cliché, how even a lot of the award-winning, prestige-core longform stuff reads like Tom Wolfe suffering through a boulder-sized shit. I could name names. But there’s no point in doing so. I’ll feel better for fifteen minutes, then slip back into a depression having alienated some people.

The aspect of sports that’s most appealing to me is its inconsequentiality. It is a tap of emotion that I can more or less control. I really can, if I want to, blot the Warriors out with my thumb. The highs games produce are splendid and the lows don’t last too long. The worst sports-feeling that has ever been inflicted upon me—Ramos in the 93rd minute, a dick-punch for the ages—mostly filtered through my system within 24 hours. By contrast, this series has zeroed out my self-esteem on a weekly basis. It has been like living in the mouth of a whale I built out of my own pretensions.

Rage still occasionally overcomes me. It is three am, and I can’t make a piece sing the way I want it to. Beneath that aggravation is a deeper one, a sense that it doesn’t matter what sort of sound the piece makes, because when it’s published six hours from now, it will go broadly unheard, deafened by folks with bullhorns and clout. In this moment of enormous frustration and despondency and pain, it all goes red. Then I take a slug of water, try to unclench, and get back to work. I know it can’t go on like this forever, me bopping from underpaying gig to underpaying gig, toiling unhappily at the margins of my chosen profession. But for a while longer, it goes on.

The Complete TCABW Archive: Charlotte Hornets | Philadelphia 76ers | Houston Rockets | Los Angeles Lakers | Dallas Mavericks Indiana Pacers | Oklahoma City Thunder | Memphis Grizzlies | Chicago Bulls | Washington Wizards Cleveland Cavaliers Brooklyn Nets New York Knicks Denver Nuggets Miami Heat Los Angeles Clippers Atlanta Hawks Utah Jazz Sacramento Kings Milwaukee Bucks Toronto Raptors Detroit Pistons New Orleans Pelicans Phoenix Suns Boston Celtics Orlando Magic Portland Trail Blazers Minnesota Timberwolves | San Antonio Spurs

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