And there was much rejoicing.
The last time my favorite sports team won the championship was 1980, when the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. I turned 13 on the day of Game 2 of the Series, so this week marked the first time in my life I’ve gotten to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate a title. It was delicious. Also strange. Let me explain.
When we arrived at Heathrow it was Tuesday morning, and my only priorities for the day were to get some sleep and to find a way to watch Game 6, which was scheduled to tip off around 2 a.m. The first was easy to accomplish, the second not so much. Searching the guide on the cable system in the flat we’re renting turned up a broadcast of the game; so far so good. But it was a subscription channel that would have to be activated, and getting that done turned out to be an ordeal.
In the meantime, I thought that London being a cosmopolitan metropolis, there might be someplace that Americans gathered to watch basketball in the wee hours of the morning; but if such a thing exists, I could find no evidence of it. The kind gentlemen who’s renting us this place tried diligently to get the necessary channel activated, but in late afternoon informed me that it could not be done. I had just woken up and was almost ready to accept this answer; I had discovered that we could at least stream the game on the iPad, which would have been OK.
But then I rallied and got on the horn to the channel in question, and finally got a phone number that expedited the solution of the problem. That sorted out, we adjourned to dinner at an Indian place called Bengal, which was fantastic. Afterward there was time to kill; we had a little walk in the park, did a crossword puzzle. There was soccer on the tube, then a lame episode of NBA Today, then the pregame blather. At last it was gametime.
Life sure is funny. Here it is 2015, and I find myself on an airplane en route to London via Toronto, iPad in lap to jot down a few words about the fact that the Warriors just won Game 5 of the NBA Finals to go up 3 games to 2.
History is written by the winners, they say. And all the articles today were about how great the W’s played, how Steph Curry torched the Cavs for 17 points in the 4th quarter, and how Draymond Green roared back to life with a huge game at this crucial juncture. And all these things are true, thank goodness. But what always gets forgotten in these situations is how touch-and-go it all was.
Everything seemed to be up in the air as we crawled through miserably slow traffic in Petaluma, still two hours away from our destination with an hour till gametime. Things had not been going exactly according to plan, and for a moment I considered bolting from the vehicle and making my way to the nearest sports bar on foot. But that would have created some substantial difficulties in my personal life, so I stayed the course.
Andre Iguodala apparently doesn't like the nickname 'Iggy,' so in recognition of his heroic Game 4 performance, I hereby swear never to call him that again.
Now the truth can be told: I was a little worried. Despite my complete confidence in Steve Kerr and the other people who get paid by Joe Lacob to think about basketball full-time, my stomach was churning as I sat in my barstool at Sidelines waiting for the game to start. And I don’t think it was just the sketchy Mexican food I had for dinner.
This pressure-cooker of the NBA Finals is really intense. And all I have to do is drink whiskey and occasionally shout something encouraging at the TV screen. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a person who actually has to play in these games.
“Your mind…blow it, blow it.”
-David Bowie, “The Gospel According to Tony Day”
The Sleeping Tapes
My goal for today has been to think, talk, read, and write about anything other than basketball, because in contrast to the joy that following the Warriors has brought me all year, at the moment it is making my stomach hurt.
To help soothe my nerves I turned to Jeff Bridges’ The Sleeping Tapes, one of the most bizarre and wonderful artifacts to emerge from our popular culture in recent years. Listening to it, one cannot help but wonder, “How did this thing come to exist?”
The Sleeping Tapes are a series of audio sketches, I guess you’d call them, starring Jeff Bridges, Hollywood royalty and son of Hollywood royalty, beloved to many for playing the role of Jeffrey Lebowski a/k/a The Dude. In the introductory track Bridges says, “I hope they inspire you to do some cool sleeping, some cool dreaming, and some cool waking up.” So I guess theoretically you are supposed to put this on when you climb into bed and listen to it as you drift off into dreamland. I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend it for that purpose. Bridges’ intentions may well be entirely benign, but there is just a touch of something unsettling here, just a hint of a David Lynch quality.
For instance, there’s the part where he tries to coax his wife into contributing to the project, even though she has just woken up and clearly has no interest in this nonsense. Why is that on the album? Then again, why not? Here are some of the other fucked-up things you’ll hear here:
– Jeff Bridges humming for three minutes.
– Jeff Bridges, apparently on a playground, telling a story about how he and his daughter used to meet up in their dreams.
– Jeff Bridges telling you how he plans to have his remains shot into space.
– Jeff Bridges leading you on a guided tour of Temescal Canyon where you meet a guy named Neal, find an abandoned office chair and some Spanish doubloons, and go hang-gliding.
– A long and somewhat random series of affirmations, including everything from “You are a good person” and “I like your haircut” to “You have strong hands, capable of woodworking” and “You are very good at guessing when a traffic light will turn green.”
– The sound of Jeff Bridges’ toilet refilling.
A few years ago I coined the phrase “transmission from Planet Weird,” and this is definitely one of those. I can’t fully do it justice in words; I encourage you to go check it out at dreamingwithjeff.com. It is a free download, but you can also make a donation that will go to a charity called No Kid Hungry. That will probably help you sleep a little better.
I'm pretty sure this shot went in.
If history is any indication, the Warriors will be just fine. They were in this same position exactly one month ago: down 2-1 to an opponent who was playing stifling defense, facing a must-win Game 4 on the road, vultures and jackals of the press circling. They won the next three games to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies, and all was right with the world.
That doesn’t make this a fun day to be a Dubs fan. We are all some combination of pissed off, bummed out, torn up, and hung over. Our boys were humbled last night by an undermanned Cleveland team that is playing with psychotic intensity, slowing things to a brutal grind and leaving no trace of the beautiful basketball team we’ve seen all season long. It kind of reminds me of the Vogons:
Billions of years ago, when the Vogons first crawled out of the primeval seas of Vogsphere, lay panting and heaving on the planet’s virgin shores… when the first rays of the young Vogsol sun had shone across them… it seemed as if the forces of evolution had simply given up on them then and there, turned aside in disgust and written them off as an ugly mistake. They would never evolve again. They shouldn’t have survived. The fact that they did is a testament to the thick-willed stubbornness of these creatures. Evolution? they said to themselves. Who needs it? What nature refused to do for them they simply did without until they were able to correct the gross anatomical inconveniences with surgery.