LOL we really are waiting hardcore now, While We’re Waiting

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The nest.Hello. Scott asked me yesterday at 3:44 pm to write his morning post for him so that he could spend another day on vacation with his family (see image). It seemed reasonable to do so because I am not on vacation and Scott is a good friend.

As of the scheduling of this post (10:50 pm EST), something may or may not have happened regarding the Cleveland Basketball Cavaliers and LeBron James. There will be no breaking or recently broken news contained in this post, just meandering and navel-gazing thoughts about sports and LeBron and life and etcetera. Don’t worry: I’m not “writing mean” this time.

Craig wrote a piece this weekend that got me thinking about LeBron and a potential return. Craig’s writing has, in general, seemed to me to shift focus over the past year and a half or so and taken a wider view of sports and their impact on the community writ large, and I have enjoyed the result. But what hit me in his piece on Saturday was this paragraph, a much more introspective bit:

But that was a long time ago. My four-year-old was just three months old at that time. I remember because I recall not caring if I woke him up when I cursed at the top of my lungs. But I’ve changed a lot since then. I’ve re-learned a ton about not only apologizing but to accept apologies. There’s something about being a dad and teaching your kids about grace and humility that you can’t help but remember to try and be a decent example for them, at least to some approximation of your own capabilities.

The notion of ‘I’ve changed a lot since then’ struck a chord with me. (I suspect the parts about apologizing/children will resonate more when my daughter is older than six months. Also I think the chord was Fadd9.) I don’t follow sports like I used to. There are reasons behind that, and those reasons are essentially a Gordian knot; it seems better to commit to non-fandom than to dip my toe into non-fandom and seeing how it feels. So now I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out how exactly I feel about all of this LeBron business. This makes me no different from most people, except that I also am trying to figure out ‘sports’ as a thing in my life.

Before I read Craig’s post, I knew there was potential for LeBron to return, but I hadn’t really thought about what that may or may not mean to me. Craig’s piece was written Saturday, before Cleveland sports things generally devolved into chaos. Since then, I have only tangentially payed attention – too much is “happening” too quickly for me to have the energy to keep up. (Plus, my daughter just started eating solid food, and one of my dogs has some sort of stomach bug, the weather and holiday last weekend were marvelous, and I’m spending a lot of time reading about dual fuel ranges.) I’ve been thinking about what LeBron James playing basketball in Cleveland might mean to me and how it may effect the way I view sports. That last point is a really hard thing to pin down.

In 2010, LeBron James left Cleveland. On the same night (and on a much, much smaller scale) I left writing about Cleveland sports after publishing a half-drunk piece that I am somehow still mostly satisfied with four years later. Looking at what I wrote, it’s clear that some previously-important thing broke in me that night. I’m pretty sure it was the part of me that was invested in individual professional athletes (also broken was some of my remaining naivety–but not my optimism).

It’s also clear, looking at the tail end of that piece, that I’ve failed in some ways of living up to what I had hoped to accomplish. To wit:

[I]t’s never a good thing to be that old, frumpy, joyless person who thinks that it’s their job to poop on everyone’s parade. Bitterness and cynicism rarely accomplish anything of note. I sincerely hope that I won’t become such a person. If that happens to me, I imagine that I will view this as a failure to live a happy life. I hope that none of us become severely embittered because of this – living in a downtrodden, angry place is not any sort of way to live our lives.

My tendency to piss in other people’s Cheerios over sports has not subsided, even though I live a generally happy life. The amateur etymologists in the room will tell me that “fan” is derived from “fanatic”, as though that in some way justifies taking pictures of an athlete’s young children at an airport because it might mean something about sports ball. There are many, many facets of fandom that I feel deserve to be mocked. Reading over how I felt immediately after LeBron left in 2010, I can’t say that I’ve lived up to what I wrote. I’m trying, but maybe I need to try harder.

What’s remarkable about this whole free agency thing, at least on an existential level, is that this LeBron free agency extravaganza is an instance that so very closely mirrors the first time around. The only thing different is that we all are a little older. You, me, LeBron, Chris Broussard, Chris Broussard’s Multiple Sources. All of us. Amin Vafa alluded to that point at HP yesterday:

Again, I can’t speak for him, but I can speak for myself as a 29-year old who’s more self-aware than he was at 25. It’s likely that James wants to do what’s right by him, what’s right by his career, what’s right by his family, what’s right by his friends, and he wants to hurt as few people as possible in the wake. There’s no “right” answer to his choice here.

And so taking that self-awareness into account, we get to this point where we can look at the outcomes from the first time around (and our personal reactions to the outcomes) and really reflect on them. How did we react, and how can we look at that reaction and use it to better-prepare ourselves this time around? How will our own personal reactions in 2010–and our subsequent feelings—inform our reaction in 2014?

In 2010 I lost a lot of my love for the NBA. That was the first of many steps that’s gotten me to where I am now: circumspect of fandom in general and not really even watching the World Cup, which is my favorite sporting event of them all. Some of missing the World Cup has to do with work scheduling, some with having a six month-old, some of it has to do with not having cable, some of it has to do with planning home renovations. But underlying all of that is the fact that I don’t care as much as I used to, probably because I don’t want to allow myself to be hurt by sports like I was when LeBron left.

It’s been difficult caring about all of the trickle of  ‘information’ surrounding the tightly-held decision-making process that LeBron is going through. The absurdity of Twitter dot com has grown exponentially by the day, to the point where trying to follow anything related to NBA free agency is more tiring than anything else. If I wanted to chase short little serotonin bursts derived from steady input and ever-increasing desperation, I’d start mainlining heroin.

LeBron is a grown-ass man, and it’s his decision alone to make. He’s not leading anyone on at this point. Nobody is entitled to his services, nor is anyone entitled to force him into making his decision before he’s ready to.

I can’t guarantee how I’ll react to whatever LeBron chooses. Maybe I’ll give the NBA another shot. Maybe I’ll shrug and keep on going as I have been. I just hope it doesn’t drive me further away from sports, because I want to enjoy them. Especially if LeBron is part of those sports again. He’s really damned good at shootyhoops, and it’d be a shame for me to miss out on that.

Random thought-like substances:

  • As mentioned, I am currently in the late planning stages of a kitchen remodel. The stages or planning, as I see them, are as follows: 1) Early: you think ‘oh, a new kitchen would really be nice’, as the whole thing is an abstraction; 2) Middle: events happen and that kitchen work becomes far less abstract and almost tangible. This is the exciting stage; 3) Late: You’ve spent way too much of your life trying to figure out just what needs to line up and how things are going to work, and really you’re mostly there and just wish it were over with. To the point where I’m waiting on other people to get to where I want things to be, and they’re just standing in the way and my GOD why can’t they just get it over with already?
  • Designing a row home kitchen is a really fun challenge, except for the part where you realize you’re going to hate aspects of it and only have yourself to blame.
  • Trying to figure out what parts of the kitchen work you’re willing/able to do yourself is even more challenging.
  • As part of kitchen renovation we are considering buying a new cookware set, likely all stainless. This is exciting but also leads to a lot of probably unnecessary research into pots and pans.
  • It seems like I’m always about three weeks from really having the time to start running again. Just need the baby to sleep through the night better, is all. Not running is all the baby’s fault, not my own.
  • I really liked Brendan’s piece last week on The Colony. If you missed it over the holiday weekend, be sure to check it out.
  • Okay. Go Sports.
  • dimoko

    4 years ago i was at my girlfriends house. we ate dinner together and then she asked if i wanted to watch the decision. we did. and i got mad, and she felt bad for me. i tried to keep my emotions bottled, but it was kind of hard. I told her that i loved her, and for both of our goods, that i should go. i knew i was going to be in a bad mood for something that in the grand scheme of things doesnt matter at all, and that i would hate to jeopardize something real in my life over something fake. so i did. I drove from her house in bay village to downtown cleveland…drove past the lebron mural…made a few wistful passes and head back to cuyahoga falls…i was upset, and i’m glad i could make a graceful exit.

    4 years later, that girlfriend is now my wife. I’ve matured quite a bit, and so has lebron i assume. I don’t hold grudges anymore, but i tend not to root for players that don’t play for cleveland and i for sure don’t root against people who do play for cleveland…So the moment he becomes a Cavalier, he is ok in my book.

  • RGB

    ESPN is in full-on meltdown mode.
    If LeBron actually comes back to Cleveland, I think some of their staff may actually jump out of windows.

  • mgbode

    Kitchens are the worst. Just when you think the plan is done, someone notes an issue and you start all over again. Ugh.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Great post to start today. While I don’t think for most people it requires non fandom, it certainly requires keeping fandom in perspective.

    Maybe it’s easier because most of me doesn’t want him back from the decision perspective, but I won’t be upset no matter what happens today. The cavs have made good moves whether he’s coming or not. It’s just entertainment, and the cavs will be entertaining.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Worse: you can design forever and build perfectly to that design… And as soon as you’re done you’ll see what someone else did and think damn it I should have done that!

    It’s like basketball teams that way.

  • RGB

    Just finished a kitchen and bathroom remodel. The hardest part is convincing yourself…and your significant other…that the dusty, ugly, naked hole in the house where a room used to be, is going to turn out great. lol

  • Natedawg86

    Why do you call your wife “someone”?

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Fadd9 is lovely. So soothing. Totes going to be my phone message alert.

  • Yes!

    Let’s hope that’d be the second best news of the day!

  • No!

    Sheridan tweeting LBJ returning just hasn’t announced it to the world. Also says Riley spent most of meeting saying how unstable Cavaliers were instead of what else Miami was going to do.

  • humboldt

    Emaj7 is a personal favorite…actually, all the maj7 chords tend to have a nice timbre to them

  • Denny

    What’s even more frightening is the fact that I’m going to be the one taking the kitchen from a hole in the house to being finished, and I’ve never done that before.

  • architrance

    Again, the old “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” I’ll worry about my feelings AFTER he’s a Cav. I feel like people are getting way ahead of themselves here…

  • Harv 21

    As someone who remodeled a kitchen in an older (ok, ancient) home, a narrow kitchen originally built for the live-in help or a subjugated wife rather than fam shmoozing ’round the middle island, may I presume to suggest: get a pro’s eye, Denny. Don’t play hero ball. Best couple hundred I ever spent was getting a competent kitchen designer to see possibilities with the weird geometry and pop some crazy balloons in my head. The only thing that went wrong was a single drawer that can’t fully open without first opening a door, and that wasn’t her fault.

  • saggy

    i can’t believe i just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out that chord on my air guitar.

  • JNeids
  • Believelander

    I liked everything about this ramble except for this:

    http://waitingfornextyear.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IMG_2880-e1404960584315.png

    Only terrible people use iPhones.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    The prospect of someone *choosing* CLE over Miami, or New York, or Los Angeles, or wherever, especially someone like Lebron? It’s antithetical to everything they’ve ever known!

    Sure, they’ll blame it on him being from there. Or Savannah. Or Kyrie and Wiggins, or trying to “reclaim” his image. But really, deep, deep down, they’ll start to question their beliefs about CLE and other small markets, and wonder: “Perhaps… Could it be… Is life… *better* outside of our bubble? [No, no, can’t be!]”

  • RGB
  • Toddyus

    I agree and like any superstitious sports fan, worry what impact all this premature chicken counting is having on the ultimate outcome…

  • Toddyus

    I gutted and rebuilt a kitchen in an 80-year-old investment property. The things I remember most were the wildly out of whack walls (nothing was square, level or plumb) and the fact that I had to change the drawer hardware to ensure that two drawers that ran perpendicular to each other could be opened at the same time.

    Ended up really nice at the end, though.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    It’s not about affecting the outcome, it’s about being affected by the outcome. Cleveland sports is tough enough on the emotional health, so why get caught up in all of this speculation? “Wait and see” just seems more reasonable.

  • RGB

    Cowterd hates the midwest. He unabashedly pimps the west coast all day long on his show.
    ESPN and their minions all view us as a bunch a hayseeds that shouldn’t have teams in the first place.

  • Denny

    I’ve aped the layout from a neighbor on our row who had similar work done and am having a contractor demo/rough the space so that it is level/square/plumb. Not flying totally blind.

  • Denny

    I’m just trying to figure out how the chickens make me feel, internet user Architrance.

  • architrance

    Ooh… touche! lol

    Oh, and everybody likes chicken, you don’t need “feelings” to tell you that.

  • mgbode

    Haha. Not always her though. Sometimes myself, family, and friends that point things out. I don’t think a perfect kitchen is possible, but we are trying.

  • mgbode

    Good luck sir. Don’t forget the fridge water is usually on its own line (whoops).

  • Toddyus

    Now you’re just talking sense…