Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Intangibles of Being Human

I am not a basketball fan and probably never will be until somebody explains to me what a foul is in the NBA.

Many times it looks to me like a defender touches a shooters arm after he takes a shot - how the hell is that a foul? Then you have the phantom fouls - the no touch fouls that get called anyway. And forget about traveling or palming the ball, I don't even want to talk about that.

The only fouls that should get called are the really violent ones, like when a defender takes a baseball bat to the shooters head - just to distract him.

I enjoy watching basketball, I really do. I enjoy sports in general. Hell, I love watching bull riding. Don't you?

It's just that basketball is the only one of the four major sports that I don't understand. This is proven to me every time my sons are at the house and we watch the C's. They notice things that I completely miss; they see "fouls" before they are even called; they understand and appreciate the subtleties of the game.

When they discuss the game in real time as we are watching I feel like I am listening to play by play in Lithuanian.

Carol has been a basketball fan all her life. Went to the C's games when you could afford it and when you could just decide to go on a whim. She gets it too. Compared to the rest of the family I am a neanderthal when it comes to basketball.

However I have developed great respect for Isaiah Thomas.

His 22 year old sister, Chyna, died on the day before the NBA playoffs began. The next night Isaiah played and scored 33 points. In that first series against the Bulls, he averaged 23 points per game. He led the C's to a first round victory. They are now playing the Washington Wizards.

In Game 2 against the Wizards, Isaiah scored a career high 53 points. Fifty three fucking points. On his sister's birthday - she would have been 23.

He is demonstrating to the world what determination is all about; what focus and and dealing with adversity are all about; what it means to be an adult - what it means to be human.

This in a sport that I believe showcases many frivolous humans; I think the NBA employs more superficial athletes than any other professional sport.

I watched my brother show the same strength in 2014. On December 17, 2014 my brother's only son Jonathan died from a heroin overdose. On December 25, 2014 my brother was at my house with my family for the Christmas holiday.

He called around 6 a.m. on December 17 to tell me about Jonathan's death. Even then, in the middle of enormous pain and loss, he apologized to me for having to call with the news because he knew we got a call the morning before telling us that my brother-in-law Sarge had died.

On the day my brother lost his only son he was thinking about me when he gave me the news.

I have never seen such strength in my life and am not sure I am man enough to be as strong. It is difficult for me to consider that because it forces me to think about something I do not ever want to have to think about.

I can only say that from the day Jonathan died until today, my brother Ed has showed nothing but strength and grace, and determination. Ultimately he has been rewarded by getting a great job and a solid future after losing practically everything battling his son's addiction, trying to protect and save him.

I don't know how people find the strength to do what they do. I don't know how Ed does it; I don't know how Isaiah is doing it. It is an intangible human trait.

It makes me want to have faith in the human race, against all odds.

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