I have no idea how Miami Heat fans feel right now, but I sure have a very clear idea right now about what’s so fun about this whole thing.
Sometimes I get pretty discouraged with sports. I wonder why I’ve been so invested in them my whole life. So much of my identity is based around sports that friends of mine were astonished Thursday night when I was at Jazz in the Park and not watching the Heat-Thunder game. The NBA, specifically the Bucks obviously, and me have become one. But occasionally I kick and scream about that.
I get really down. I wonder why it all matters so much to me. My life is going to keep going on the same way regardless of what happens on the field. It starts to bother me that so much of my identity is wrapped up with a game I can’t control, I only play sparingly at this point and has virtually no appeal with women or people who could help me in any other way.
But then I get to see something happen like the Heat winning the title.
I don’t care how you feel about LeBron and Wade and Bosh. That doesn’t matter at all. If you can’t appreciate people coming together and working so incredibly hard to be the best at something and then achieving after months and years of work together, then I can’t have a dialogue with you. Because I’ll never be able to understand how your thoughts work.
I just have this incredibly weird feeling of joy and relief right now. Not because I was so desperate to see LeBron get a ring or anything like that, but just because I feel like this is the culmination of a journey. And we all get to look back on that journey and reflect on it now. When we’re able to do that, it’s a pretty special feeling.
One of my favorite sports teams of all time was the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers. I was so incredibly invested in that team. I went to a ton of Brewer games. I poured over stats while preparing to argue with my friends about them. We exchanged e-mails. We shared in highs and lows. I bought t-shirts to remember that season specifically (a Ray Durham jersey shirt). One of my favorite games that year was a loss to the Cubs in late July at Miller Park. Tons of my friends, both Cubs fans and Brewer fans were there. We spent a whole game talking trash to each other. The game was back and forth and filled with memorable plays both positive and negative. The Brewers lost, but I’ll always cherish that night as part of the greater journey of that season, even if it was painful then.
When the Bucks made the playoffs in 2009, it was incredibly special to me. Not because they made the playoffs, but because of everything that happened that season. The loss at the buzzer to the Mavericks when Dirk hit a shot over Mbah a Moute. Jennings’ 55-point game. The moment when I could feel things click for the team. All those things I can recall like they happened yesterday. It was a special season for me, as it was my first on press row. But it was special because of everything that happened too.
Those are the things that keep me going. Seeing players work so hard for a season and come together in special moments sprinkled throughout it – that’s what I love. It’s a fantasy we all had to give up many years ago. I like my job, so going to work every day isn’t so hard, but I’m never going to be working towards something the way these athletes are. I’m never going to have the goal of being a group that’s working towards winning a championship be my focus.
We get to go along for the ride. The moments become ours. They frame memories in our lives. It’s a truly terrific experience.
The last two Bucks seasons didn’t have many memorable moments. Maybe that’s because things got depressing pretty quick or because we don’t reflect as fondly on non-playoff teams as we do on playoff teams. Or maybe there just wasn’t as much worth remembering.
But when I think back to the things that are worth it – they are so worth it. They make it all worthwhile when they happen. Sometimes you know it as they happen and sometimes you have to look back on the journey. When I do that, it certainly makes me remember why I’m doing this and what I’m hoping for.
Congratulations to the Miami Heat and here’s to the Bucks putting together a season we’ll all remember next year.