Thursday, June 10, 2010
Derek Fisher's performance in Game 3 was inspiring. It inspired me to swear heavily, throw several things I was holding, and weep. That was Write on the Funny!
But seriously (ugh, sorry), Fisher turned in the kind of late-game superprowess that brings to mind the past exploits of Reggie Miller and Robert Horry. These are the kinds of players who (excluding Miller, to some extent) are not superstars, but who are almost more feared than the Jordans or the Kobes when there are less than three minutes on the clock. They are guys whose value is rarely thought about until they, time and again, come through in the clutch and give their team a spark that is hard to control and nearly impossible to counter. Fisher has the added impact of emotional appeal, best displayed by his fourth quarter entrance after leaving his ill daughter's bed a few years back and his overjoyed post-game interview on Tuesday. Even when talking about his own clutchness, he plays the role of Moral Orel.
The combination of this good-guy persona and the individual underdog triumph should make me love these players. Yet I often end up rooting against them more intensely than even the players who perform like this all the time. There are two major reasons for this, so far as I can tell.
The first is that these players just so happen to always play for teams that bury those I'm rooting for, or even teams I hate. Miller did it, of course, against the Knicks, all the time. Horry found himself playing the sharpshooter for the evil Texas twosome of the Rockets and Spurs, two teams I find boring at best and detrimental to the well-being of basketball at worst. And now Fisher, for these Lakers, the team that I want least to represent some sort of new-world dynasty, an idea that I loathe in and of itself.
There are plenty of players who come up in big moments and play for despicable teams, though. These guys, the ones who are defined by 1/16 of an eternal basketball game, reach beyond that and make me feel a level of discomfort that is unique and, quite honestly, unnerving. Unnerving because the truth of my feelings very likely lies in the fact that these are people who succeed where I know that I, and most others, have always and will always fail. That ability to exceed one's own normal human capacity is a trait with which I cannot identify, and it makes me very jealous and bitter. Many like to portray these kinds of players as examples of man's ability to rise to the occasion, as if they were mothers lifting their children from under Mac trucks. But that is not humanity. Most of us cave under pressure, we get nervous, we fuck up at the big moment, and we spend the rest of our day, our week, our life, trying to forget about it.
What these kinds of players do should be lauded; their feats are amazing. And if you have the ability to do so, without sitting there and finding yourself disgusted by the sheer unreality of it all, then I commend you (and probably secretly loathe you, as well).