By the standards of the Unmarried American Male, I've always been considered somewhat sportsophobic: I have attended no football games since high school (can you even admit to that in Oklahoma?); I pay only perfunctory attention to Major League Baseball and not much more than that to our local Triple A club; and while I can construct brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament with mathematical precision, I usually don't have much of a clue why I'm putting someone where.

Now all of a sudden we have an NBA team, sort of, and I've written a paragraph or two about every single game (twenty-three as of this writing) and a couple dozen other articles besides. The casual observer, observing, might well wonder just what the hell is going on here:

Is it just my imagination, or are you really getting into the old roundball?

Faced with this question, I dribbled:

Serious novelty value here, what with (1) an actual NBA team (2) just down the street. This is not something one tends to find in sleepy little prairie towns.

A contributing factor, of course, is the sheer irony of the Bad Weather Capital of the World picking up a major-league franchise, albeit temporarily, because of really bad weather somewhere else.

And really, "temporarily" is the operative word here. There's a sensation around here that we are being tested, to see if we really are the hotshot boomtown we'd like to think. (Let's face it, for a city of 530,000 and a metro of a million and a quarter, we do a pretty good job of staying off the national radar.)

Which explains perhaps why I'd find the awkwardly-designated New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets newsworthy, but doesn't explain why I find myself studying stats and reading seating charts and acting like a freaking fan fercrissake. Posed with a similar question later, I picked up on the Civic Pride angle:

[A]s a property owner in the city, I'm seeing myself as much more of a participant in what goes on; I have a stake, sort of, in this venture. I'm doing more cultural events. Even my charitable contributions are up, despite the fact that buying the house left me less money for such things. So yeah, there's the novelty value; but mostly, it's part of a change in attitude.

But I wasn't really happy with that answer either. Oddly enough, I found some common ground with Woody Allen, who had worked a Knicks reference into Annie Hall; I had no idea, though, that there had originally been much more than just a throwaway line or two. From a 2002 interview for a British magazine:

I wrote and shot a scene for Annie Hall involving the Knicks and Earl The Pearl [Monroe]. I was extolling the concept of the physical over the cerebral, so I wrote a fantasy basketball game in which all the great thinkers of history — Kant and Nietzsche and Kirkegaard — played against the Knicks. I cast actors who looked like those philosophers to play those roles and they played against the real Knicks. We used the players on the team at that time including Earl, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier, and we shot it inside Madison Square Garden after the last game of the season. Of course the Knicks were smooth and beat the philosophers easily; all their cerebration was impotent against the Knicks.

But I cut the scene from the picture, not because it didn't come out but because I had to keep the picture moving and it was too much of a digression.

And being rather low on the physicality scale myself, except perhaps in terms of sheer bulk, I have considerable regard for the lithe, the flexible, the light on their feet:

I have no hope of dancing myself, what with occasional vertigo and this dubious knee joint and a center of gravity that guarantees I'll be upended, so this scene represents something to which I can never hope to aspire.

Well, what do you know: underneath it all, and quite apart from monetary considerations, what I really wanted was to be like Mike.

The Vent

  17 December 2005

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 Copyright © 2005 by Charles G. Hill