Core Samples |

Core Samples

Maybe it’s better this way. There’s a lot to be said for emotional non-involvement. Lord knows there are tons of upsides to distancing oneself from the fray. Not that it’s been all that difficult of late. Keeping the NBA in general and the NBA playoffs in particular at arm’s length has become much easier in recent years.

Especially when you’re a Laker fan and you’re oh-so-tired of Kobe Bryant and all he represents. A lot of it probably has to do with the rampant immaturity you’ve come to associate with the professional side of a sport you once held in high regard. When you lose respect, it becomes much easier to lose interest.

Not that the game itself hasn’t become a lot less interesting on its own. How many untold light-years has it moved away from the aura of when Magic and Bird honored its essence with every dribble and no-look pass? Now, that being said, it was little wonder that you paid only passing attention to what annually transpired in the world of pro-hoops.

It’s not like you cut it off completely, however. You’re a sports fan and your options are few. Over the years you’ve become hard-wired to the mindset. Deflecting the incessant stream of data bombarding you from all sides would require a heat shield of NASA proportions. But, you can do your best to ignore it.

You can install a filter and crank up the sensitivity knob to where the NBA and all of its attendant hubbub can’t be heard above the background clutter of the galactic neighborhood. You can get to the point to where your emotional investment is only measurable within the discipline of quantum mechanics the uncertainty principle notwithstanding. In the void, caring less and bliss are one.

So there you were, finally at peace — your passions directed elsewhere. At last, you had reached the point where only casual consideration was paid. You were still able to talk-the-talk, of course. It’s your history and it can’t be denied. Feigning interest among your peer group is the least you could do.

It’s not like you have to stay up late and cram in order to adequately return serve when approached by a pro-basketball junkie in the produce section. All that is usually required is to post them up near the cumquats and, using the grapefruit rack as a screen, hit the ol’ back door off the pick and roll. And, unless their transition defense picks up the switch, they won’t even notice when the talk turns to baseball.

Now where were we? Oh, yeah – at peace. Not emotionally invested. Caring less. Blissing out. Dispassionate where hoops were concerned. Rhapsodizing on the elegance of the "hit-and-run" and the "suicide-squeeze," the patient strategies of the 800-meter run in track and field, and the pure delight of "selling the dummy" in rugby.

And what about the glistening thoroughbred finding a hole off the rail and ever-so-smoothly shifting gears at the top of the stretch. Or the racing yacht intuitively tacking toward a wind shift no one else senses. Or a radar lob wedge to within inches of the cup by a rookie shooting a round for the ages. Blessed are the euphoric, for they shall walk on air.

And then it happened. It all came tumbling down. There came a knock-knock-knocking at the chamber door. You froze. It wasn’t like you were looking for company. Who or what could it possibly be? You tiptoed over and took a peek. Oh, say it ain’t so! It must be a bad dream. Not your old nemesis — the Utah Jazz.

What could they possibly want? They must know your feelings on the matter — that you’ve recently gone through rehab and that, once and for all, you’re clean and have no intention of backsliding. It should be obvious that the last thing you need is a reintroduction to the over-the-top arrogance of the in-your-face, slam-dunk set.

But there they are with their dimply grins and that little-engine-that-could air about them and old friends Jerry Sloan and "D-Fish" leading the way. You know what they’re up to. They’re trying to destroy your "guilt-by-association" defense. "We are not one of them," they seem to say.

They try to wear you down with their Boozer and their Williams and their Okur and their Kirilenko and their "our-tattoos-are-cuter-than-theirs" attitude. Well, they are the underdogs and they don’t have home-court advantage, so maybe you could promise to pay at least slight heed to their ongoing, post-season fortunes. Anything to get them off the porch.

Big deal. It’s not like you’re investing emotions or anything. Or time, for that matter. Those days are long gone. And anyway, they’ll never get by Houston. Could you imagine the Jazz summoning up enough grit to actually win a playoff game on the road? A game seven? Against Yao and T-Mac? Right!

Well, whoda thunkit? Oh drat! That means there will be another series. Ok, but only slight heed will be paid, remember. They must know that there’s no way you’re going to allow their inconsequential shoot arounds to get in the way of already-scheduled concerts and readings and films and museum shows. You don’t think they’ve forgotten that you have a life, do you?

Alright, who is it this time? What? It’s not the Mavericks? Ah, it’s that rambunctious Warrior bunch from out in the Bay Area. Well, if they can beat Dirk’s boys, they certainly should quickly dispatch the Jazz. Have you seen the highlights? They are way too wild and athletic for our lads to handle.

You’re kidding! In five games? Now who? Well, it really doesn’t matter now does it? Admit it! You’re actually growing rather fond of this current Jazz bunch, aren’t you? Not that you’ve jumped on any bandwagons, or anything. But that was quite a thumping they put on the Spurs Saturday, wasn’t it?

And even though San Antonio returned the favor Monday night, you may as well stick around a bit longer. Not that you’ve reacquired an NBA "jones" or anything. It’s really not the same thing. It’s apples and oranges. It’s just that if the Jazz keep suiting-up, you may as well give them a sidelong glance. It’s not like it’s an emotional investment or anything.

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