Team Oden Relocates and a Grown Beast WeepsMay 23, 2007 at 8:48 pm | Posted in Sports, Video | 10 Comments
Lucy the Dog spent some time in the Beast Lair last night, and that was a fortunate thing. Without our calming presence, God knows how the Beast Master might have reacted to losing his coveted Beast In Waiting, Greg Oden.
After missing out on Tim Duncan a decade ago, legend has it the Celtics enthusiast annihilated his mother’s azalia bushes. But last night saw a matured, level-headed Beast Master, who resisted the burning urge to hop on the first flight to Free Darko and commit a violent and bloody felony.
It had been many years since I watched a televised NBA Draft Lottery on television, and it’s turned into quite a production. Like any sporting event, there’s an abundance of polished, flashy analysis and bullshit hyperbole in the drawn-out moments that build to the actual results. But unlike most sporting events, this one lived up to the hype. Because for sheer drama, you can’t beat watching David Stern kick your good friend in the ping pong balls with a steel-toed Number Five pick.
With the second-worst record in the league last season, the Celtics had a 39 percent chance of landing Oden or the not-too-shabby consolation prize of Number Two pick Kevin Durant. In a worst-case scenario – if several unlikely twists of fate were to coincide – the Celtics would slip to Number Five, where continued irrelevancy, Joakim Noah, and a tall Chinaman reside. There was a 12 percent chance of the worst-case scenario coming true.
But of course, it did come true, as these cruel twists of fate did coincide. And to witness firsthand how it devastated a legitimate diehard – a true Green believer! – was a fantastic spectacle indeed.
The beauty was the swiftness of the devastation. This was not the slow but steady rising waters of New Orleans. It was not even the interim of disbelief and terror between the first plane hitting the World Trade Center and the buildings’ eventual collapse. No, this was quick and dirty. Nuclear annihilation that struck without warning. It was, quite simply, awesome.
The Beast Master had been sweating it out all day. By the time I reached the Lair, roughly an hour before the lotto, his body was trembling and he could hardly focus. After a round of self-medication and a food run to some Asian joint, we settled in for the moment that Celtics fans fantasized about through each of the team’s celebrated 58 losses, including a franchise record 18-game skid.
Starting with the Number 14 pick, each team was announced, one by one. When they got to Number 5, I hadn’t even started feeling any second-hand nervousness, since it seemed so implausible that the Celtics logo would come up. And for a second, I felt like my athletically illiterate wife when the card was flipped. I saw the Master’s jaw on his chest – “No. God no. No. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. No.” But I figured there must be some weird trade thing I didn’t know about, where the Celtics card could get turned again in a more desirable slot. Was this really it? It happened so fast.
There was the Master, falling apart before my very eyes. I had expected to possibly play the role of consoler/sympathetic friend/voice of reason and perspective. If the Celtics got the Number 2 or 3 pick, I would sit stoically and tell him everything would be OK. But I was not prepared for this, The Worst-Case Scenario. The Ultimate Humiliation.
In less than five minutes, the Master endured all of the emotions – the rage, the sorrow, the disbelief – that I felt over four long games in the Yankee’s ALCS collapse of 2003. By the time Kevin Brown took the mound for Game 7 that year, I didn’t even care anymore. I’d surrendered to exhaustion, defeat, and the Worst Collapse in the History of Sports. But that was a gradual beat-down. This was something different altogether – a virtual wrecking ball through the heart of the storied franchise. The Celtics didn’t even make it past the only commercial break!
“What kind of world is this? How can this be? Red Aurebach, Dennis Johnson, and now this? How can anyone have any belief in religion or God or justice? It’s not fair, it’s just not fair. It’s not right…”
The Beast Master continued to ramble in this way for the next couple hours, occassionally distracted by my efforts to change the conversation, but always returning to the horror. Oh, the horror. We took a walk, but the Master was despondent. “Let’s go back. I need to be close to the beer.” At times, he would take the brave ‘silver-lining’ approach. “You can still get a good pick at Number Five. Lots of great players have been picked at Number Five. They can trade the pick.” And yes, this is true. Stranger things have happened. Like getting the Number Five pick when there’s only a 12 percent chance of that happening.
By the end of the night, that silver lining was nowhere to be seen. Inconsolable, the Beast Master mumbled incoherently about nihilism, conspiracy theories, and sexual fantasies involving Scarlett Johanssen. I had not seen him this way since the Evil-Tribune managment trounced our union organizing effort with a demoralizing 82-52 election defeat.
But what could I say? What’s done is done. We are left with no other choice but to accept our destiny, and the Beast Master’s destiny is to wake up on a Tuesday night in February to the crying of his newborn son. He will pick the boy up, stuff a pacifier in his mouth, and tune into TNT to watch Team Oden on Pacific Coast Time. There lies the dreams of what could have been.
But here lies reality. Welcome to the Joakim Noah era, Boston. Stay tuned for yijianlianisabeast.com.