One Game We Watched Last Night: USA vs. Australia
Yanks: 119, Aussies: 86
I think Kobe heard the guy behind me at a T.G.I. Friday's in midtown Manhattan call him old.
Cause then he went off. Enough firepower to untuck his shirt. Not nothing.
And that was the story of the game. Or wait. Maybe the story of the game was Patty Mills doing his best Monta Ellis impression, but still falling short of a victory (so, actually, doing a pretty faithful Monta Ellis). No, the story may have really been LeBron's triple-double, first in Olympic history. Well, really, the story was probably the three-point-obsessed USA offense.
Sorry. My mistake. There was no story.
There's never been a story, at least throughout the entire 2012 Olympic campaign. Recently: The 2008 Games had the redemption plot. The 2010 FIBA World Championship team told a story about young players staking their claim of worthiness. But this 2012 team? They don't have anything and it's kind of boring. They are just so much more talented than the competition that they've rendered any discussion about them moot. The reason the Dream Team vs. The 2012 Team debate has enjoyed so much traction is that we have nothing else to talk about. This team's lack of bigs? Stop it.
We're forcing narrative and, in turn, forcing interest. Just because we've replaced one side with majesty and the other with nationalism, these games really aren't all that different from a Heat-Bobcats blowout in February. Except that they are on more televisions and only a few ticks away from a championship.
To get to the bathroom at the T.G.I. Friday's on Fifth Ave., I had to cut through some of the thickest malaise I've ever come across. These people had given up. Knives all around me cut through hardtack chicken with zombie determination. The condensation on over-sugared margaritas left rings of tears on the tabletops.
At its most base, we watch sports because we need something to fill the time. They distract us from tedious minutia, from unpleasant work, from crippling realities, from the fact that we're eating a Jack Daniel’s® Chicken Sandwich. The escapism is most effective when the narrative is strong, relatable, comforting. We gravitate to the underdog because that is perpetually us. A group of revolutionary minds upending social mores, a la Nelson or D'Antoni, excites us and gives us hope. Watching greatness gives us the optimism that Anything Is Possible.
But watching the Heat ruin the Bobcats? Just reminds us once again that the big guy always wins. And this Olympic team? Until we find a narrative string to lift us up, it's the same thing.
I left the T.G.I. Friday's and walked fast to distance myself as quickly as possible. It was still light out.