So there I am, the evening of my 26th birthday in the third row of TD Garden, watching the nail-biting ending to a match-up between the Celtics and the Suns and my heart rate is undisturbed by the action in front of me. It’s my first time seeing Rajon Rondo, and the entire Suns lineup in person.
The backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, to me, is one of the most interesting/exciting in the league, and the game has been a closely contested match, with the Suns extending the lead to double digits at several points and the Celtics furiously fighting their way back. In spite of all this, in the final critical minutes of the game I find myself, for a lack of a better description, bored.
It’s been like this most of the Fall. I sat through free agency this past summer with bated breath, eager to see how the entire NBA landscape would shift with the comings and goings of the league’s titans. The news of Lebron’s return to Cleveland is burned into my memory; I remember waking up to the tweets and his piece in Sports Illustrated the morning after a buddy’s bachelor party and immediately taking to Facebook and Gmail to get the word out to my friends. I recall the curiosity and surprise I felt at Chris Bosh balking at a move to Houston.
My credit card remembers immediately throwing $70.00 at the NBA as soon as #17 Lin Laker jerseys became available for purchase.
This was supposed to be the most exciting NBA season in the while; I stated that much to my friends all Summer. How did we get here? Sitting in row 3 seats and unable to get into the game. Zero awareness of the Eastern or Western conference standings. Not a single argument on Facebook about the NBA to date. How did we get here?
I wrote a little over a year ago about fandom. How we attach ourselves to sports teams, pop idols, alma maters, and pour all of our unbridled emotion into that support. Now that I’m on the darker side of 25 (call it a mid-twenties crisis), I’ve had a taste of where fandom goes to die. Peering through the archives of the crazy chronicles I’ve put on the internet for all to see, it’s a stark contrast to the fan I am these days. So much energy spent agonizing over the Knicks, over k-pop, over so many things, yet now I find myself in a coma. A coma induced by my own know-it-all hipster approach to the NBA, and by a dying era in my fandom of many things.
I spent years and years talking about how the Knicks were blowing it, how Carmelo Anthony wasn’t the answer, and how the Knicks were going to be terrible. And well, they’re terrible. They’re beyond hope; there’s no point in my watching them anymore. I can’t get excited about them or their future. I suppose that makes me less than the hardcore fan that I presumed to be; but when you hate almost everything a sports franchise is doing, how are you supposed to maintain interest?
This is not even like watching a train wreck–which was last year for the Knicks–I don’t even get pleasure out of masochistically waiting for them to fail. This is like watching a corpse to see if it moves.
I initially thought Jeremy Lin on the Lakers was somehow going to be some fantastic thing. I still think this is one of the best opportunities he’s going to get to prove himself until he gets shipped off to some other team. I enjoy watching Kobe and supporting Jeremy as much as anybody, but it’s been difficult to tune in to the Lakers this season. The team just never seems to be in sync.
If I thought there was a future on the horizon, maybe I’d buy in, but that went away as soon as rookie forward Julius Randle fractured his tibia on opening night. Particularly with Jeremy, I’ve grown a little tired of being excited for potential lines of 16 and 6 and settling for 12 and 5. I can’t bring myself to watch him in action just to look for glimpses of hope in his game anymore. He is what he is; I believe he can do better but I’m no longer excited to look for evidence.
Etiquette would suggest that if you’re not a fan of the away team, cheer for the home team, but this is the reality of one mad fan’s disillusionment. I can’t even cheer for the Celtics on their own floor when they’re down by two with a minute to go in the 4th quarter.