Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: blah

A few more LeBron thoughts

Rather than Twitter my thoughts one by one, here are the remainder of them:

The holdover from the Jordan era, which pretty much wafts at every level of the NBA experience, is that a single, singular player leads a team to a championship, and that amongst a group of elite players, only so many of them have “what it takes” to get there. You can choose to believe this narrative if you’d like, but it’s a flimsy one, because once someone’s won it, it crumbles. Kobe couldn’t win by himself, and then he did. Look elsewhere in sports, and you can see it folding on itself (as you’ll see the next time Kobe loses in the playoffs): Phil Mickelson couldn’t win the big one, then he did, then he choked again, then he won again. Peyton Manning couldn’t win, then he could, then he choked.

I think what people are angry about with LeBron is that we’re not going to get to see if he has that, I don’t know, “it” that may or may not even exist in the first place. That’s a presumption in and of itself, but let’s just say it’s true: If the Heat win the title with relatively equal contributions from Wade and Bron, does that tarnish LeBron’s legacy? The answer, today, seems to be yes. LeBron seems to either not care or to have taken people at face value when they said he needed to win a championship to be a complete player, or something, when they really meant he needed to lead a team to a championship. Having played for a  Team USA—on which he wasn’t the top draw, Kobe was—that was roundly lauded, you can see how he’d come to this conclusion. Why would people praise his ability to play with superstar then, and tear it down now? (He might be asking himself.)

Another thing about Team USA: So many stories about how watching Kobe brought LeBron’s work habits to another level. Maybe this is something where LeBron thinks he can get better just by being around Wade. Kobe himself has admitted that he’s basically stolen every move in his arsenal, an aggregation service along the lines of, jeez, fivethirtyeight.com. Maybe LeBron needs to see things up close to duplicate and surpass them, and got a whiff of it at the Olympics. I don’t know. I’m just saying.

He’s certainly read the tea leaves wrong about what was expected of him, as evidenced by the audible vacuum that hit the Greenwich, CT Boys & Girls Club last night, when he awkwardly spoke the words “South Beach” as his destination. (Seriously?) He honestly thought we just wanted him to win one, when we actually wanted so much more. What did we want? Something we hadn’t seen before, something transcendent. This was something we hadn’t seen before, but it wasn’t transcendent. Our new fear is that it won’t be transcendent even if he wins it all. That’s a disappointment, sure, but LeBron probably won’t feel like it’s a disappointment when he’s holding the trophy. In 20 years, maybe he’ll wonder “What if?” But it doesn’t matter if he knew he had that mythological extra oomph in 20 years; he’s searching for it now, frantically looking for it on the beach like a lost key. The thing is, we told him the key was there, even if it might not exist, and even if he thinks it’s the bottom of that trophy we’ll tell him nope. you don’t have it. Unlike many people, I have no problem feeling a little bit sorry for the guy and also rooting heartily against him, and that’s just what I plan to do (and root for Cleveland to absolutely pound him, somehow). The idea of this team winning the title sickens me to the point that I would root for Kobe against them. I wanted transcendence as much as anybody, and I find the idea of Wade and LeBron playing together categorically unfair. But you know what? It’s totally fucking fair. I’m being deprived of a negative, something that I only imagined existing: LeBron flying through the air, delivering the team on which he was Top Dog to a title, averaging 35 PPG in the Finals with 10 and 10. Now even if that happens we’ll think it’s silly. What a joke.

My friend the banker

My friend the banker taught me how to make eggs. Small pan, a spritz of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, one side and then over. Easy. But mine don’t look like his. Mine are all tapioca-yellow broken-yoke muddle, his are all golden-brown, fluffy, yokes intact. Break them and the gold runs along your plate to the margins, waiting to be curled into a piece of toast.

My friend the banker recently bought a house. A duplex, to be exact. My friend the banker is 25 years old, and not even really a banker. He works at an investment bank, though, so it’s easiest to call him that. Snappier, too. My friend the banker is a snappy dresser and snappy with zingers to toss around. It fits, like the Mini Cooper he drives with the vanity plate that you couldn’t even imagine.

I explained the problems that I outlined yesterday to my friend the banker. He was uniquely qualified to comment on my situation, having no small number of his own things in my house, due to circumstances beyond his control. At first, he said that there were some things he would like to keep for posterity, and recommended gutting the house of its items and throwing everything in an above-ground garage. Expensive, semi-sentimental, and sensible, I thought. Then my friend the banker thought about it for another minute and spoke again.

“Throw it all away,” he said.

It caused me no small amount of joy to hear that. I consider it a healthy attitude to take toward one’s early youth, especially when is looking at it in the rear-view mirror. My friend the banker is moving in with his girlfriend, and embarking on a new life entirely of his choosing. It is altogether admirable. It’s something I did once.

That conversation was two weeks ago, on a highway in Phoenix, Arizona. Last weekend, I was face-to-face with my friend the banker’s stuff. Old photos, trophies, clothes, mementos, in boxes that chirped their owners’ suggestion to throw them out over the pulsating sound of the Bose speaker upstairs.* I did not do it. It’s not because I don’t respect my friend the banker’s wishes, but because having been reminded of the power of memory through the process of clearing the clutter from my own past, I have been reminded how it changes, like the colors of a sunset.

You know that moment at dusk when everything gets lighter all of a sudden, like someone pressed rewind on the night for 30 seconds? Doesn’t the same thing happen in life? I think it does, and I don’t know if my friend the banker has gotten there yet. And if he hasn’t, I can’t deprive him the opportunity to watch, in awe and wonder, as it appears the clocks are turning backward, that 8 o’clock has become 7:45, the the world has started spinning in the opposite direction, and that things that have faded in importance for him become, against all odds, resonant once more, final, shining beacons to the past.

So I’m careful. I throw away the trash.  I’m respectful of the past, and of the future. I’m as consistent as possible. But last weekend even I was taken aback when I found a shark hand puppet that belonged to me when I was six years old, and it all came swirling back, all of it. I put it in a box and onto a shelf and, unbowed, headed back to my project, the broken yokes of old dreams all around me, trying desperately not to break any more.

* On a lighter note, the Bose iPod dock is, in the words of C.P., the sixth man of the maintenance work. That thing is out. of. control. Wizardry.

They took our jobs!

Something unexpected, wonderful and terrifying happened last week: My job actually became interesting and not, like temporarily. I basically figured out the new media angle for my magazine. All of a sudden, there’s a lot of work to do and it’s even kind of… exhilirating.

Anyhow.

Not much else today. I haven’t had a haircut in quite some time. It’s getting funny.

I wish I had something for you today…

… that wasn’t a long-overdue missive against bosses long past, but I don’t. I’m just half-following the Tiger Woods “story” and putting together some blog posts for work before I take a(nother) turkey lunch. I was sent home from Thanksgiving with turkey and no stuffing or cranberry sauce, so I made both and have been feasting ever since. No discount on buying cranberries or Stove Top the day after Thanksgiving, nor any strange looks, which was kind of disappointing. I was all ready to tell the story and everything.

Today’s Stuff

Ben wants me to comment on this, but I said yesterday was the end of it, so I’m going to stick to that.

Not much else stirring in Manhattan. (Really! It’s super quiet.) Watched LeBron and some Top Chef last night. LeBron lost, looking sort of detached from everything. Eli got kicked off Top Chef, setting up the final four that’s been obvious since the first few episodes. These guys (/gals) are good. I have a feeling some day we’ll look back and be like, “Holy crap, I can’t believe those four people were on a reality show together,” like, “Crap, I can’t believe Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were roommates in college.” Or something like that.

Give me a rest. It’s early.

I’ll spare you a detailed look at my beer drinking from last night, but you may be aware that Bud Light is advertising a new product. Do not be fooled; there is no new product. One label is slapped on an otherwise ordinary Bud Light bottle and — ta da! — Bud Light Golden Wheat. One and the same.

On tap today: some light atonement, designing some magazines, deciding whether to trade Al Horford for Vince Carter. What do YOU think? What are YOU up to? And would you make that trade? Feedback is welcome on the last except for Ryan, who will pull the old “Are those baseball players?” routine.

Top o’ the Morning

Good morning, folks. It’s Friday. The Red Sox lose for once, The Office is back on the air, and would a tax on soda really cost you anything? Let’s get to it.

1. SOX GO DOWN The Red Sox’ seven-game winning streak ended last night at the hands of the Angels, who now lead the season series 5-4. These teams will almost certainly meet in the first round of the playoffs for he fifth times, and the Red Sox have won all previous four. The question is: does that matter? And the answer is probably “no.” But the Yankees probably like it nonetheless, given their history against the Angels in the 2000’s (did we ever decide what to call this decade?). They’re 0-2 in the playoffs against the Halos and any Yankees fan will tell you something along the lines of “The Angels own us.” That may or may not be true, but either way, I’m not sure a Yankees/Tigers series would work out well for humanity. Then again, anything can happen.

Of course, the best possible result is that the Red Sox and Yankees meet again, and the Red Sox simply blow them out of the water, despite a weaker team and weaker record. For all the talk of the Red Sox having the “upper hand” in the rivalry after the glorious events of 2004, they’ve never stepped on the Yankees from start to finish, which, Clemens/Pedro aside, the Yankees did to the Sox in 1999. That happens, and Yankees fans will really go crazy.

2. SOME THING We may have just realized the downside to having the blog under one’s full name when one works in certain industries, and will keep you posted if we “read” anything somewhere else.

3. THAT’S IT I’ve been pulled into other things at the moment.