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What do we mean when we say we’ve lost something?  Is it failure Having something stolen from us?  Misplacing something?  Being defeated?  Having our hearts broken?

“Oh shit, I lost my cell phone, well fuck, guess I have to buy a new one.”

“Goddamnit, the Knicks lost again, guess they’re not going to make the fuckin playoffs.”

I don’t know, those weren’t great examples.

This is where the intersection between fandom and life gets so interesting though, because the eyes of our desire: the sports teams we live and die with, the celebrities we crush on, the athletes we worship, all weave themselves into the tangled web of our heart strings and have just as much impact as any other meaningful relationship in our lives. In true, hardcore fandom, we invest so much. Our attention, our energy, our love, all of our passion – all in the name of supporting the stars we care about.

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When times are good, there’s no better feeling in the world.  Your loyalty, your energy, it’s all rewarded with victory, with affirmation, with the exultant jubilance of having accomplished something together. But when times are bad, it’s all sorts of terrible. It’s depressing, infuriating, gut-wrenching, unbearable. You can’t believe things are happening the way they are, but it’s out of your control, there’s no escape.

Do you remember when you lost your first love? Most people have a story and very rarely is it a happy one. It’s always some twisted, drawn out, painful affair, made more complicated and more raw by the cherished, irreplaceable memories that existed before things turned sour. For a while, you wonder about that first one, what could have been, why she left, if she’ll ever come back. It’s painful and complex, and by no means fun to deal with.

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So how do you think Cleveland feels about Lebron? An NBA icon who grew into his superstardom under their roof. They had him for seven whole sweet years to themselves, living in a dream, before he broke their hearts and darted down to Miami for a better partner. It hurt a lot, for Cleveland, I’m sure. Even with a new younger core, the city’s still wistful about their departed King. “Lebron to Cleveland 2015!” some might only dream. All the sins, the betrayal, the four years being with someone else, all of it forgivable, just so long as they can be together again.

What about the sting of rejection? To come so close to grasping your hopes, dreams and happiness, but just having it dashed in front of your eyes… having it barred off, taken away from you, denied. You want someone, something, so bad, and it’s right in your grasp, before it’s whisked away, leaving you nothing but emptiness. It’s swift, unforgiving, and terrible.

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Can you imagine being a Spurs fan during the finals last year? To be so, so, close to another championship, just a few stupid minutes away, one measly rebound away, just so so close to everything you ever wanted, but so so far. To watch that stupid orange basketball go bouncing right into Ray Allen’s hands, and see him launch it, slow motion, right into the one place in the entire universe you didn’t want it to go.  o be so close and have that dream taken away from you – the trauma, the heartbreak, all of the pain, can you imagine any shittier sensation in the world?

And how about losing the girl(/guy) of your dreams to someone else To care so much about someone, to love them, to idolize them, revel in their happiness and worry about their troubles. When you get the rug swept out from under you and lose someone who was so central, so core to your life, how can you even begin to cope with that loss? Where do you even begin? Do you try to be happy for them, do you curse the guy she chose over you, do you curl up into a ball and pine the day away, enveloped in your sorrows?

…clearly I’m not taking this whole Tiffany/Nichkhun thing very well.

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But in sports, in life, in love, among all the complexity, the carnage, the emotion, the path forwards is always pretty simple. You get up and you keep fighting. Cleveland’s not going to get Lebron back, but they can’t just roll over and die. Franchises move on. They move on to new stars, they find new promise, new problems, everything.  San Antonio didn’t crumble after Game 6 last year, they came back with fervor in Game 7, gave it everything they had, and now, a year later, they’re right back at it again as this NBA season comes to a close and the playoffs begin. You get up and you keep fighting. There’s no other option.

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