Once upon a time, I fell in love. It was completely unexpected. No one, based on the entire of my life prior, could have foreseen who I would choose for my beloved.
I dressed for my love. I prayed for my love. I lost nights of sleep for my love.
And my beloved flourished. Was amazing and strong and the epitome of a truth that general society tends to discount and pooh-pooh. Namely, that ego and stardom may seem to rule the day, but passion, cooperation, and collaboration are the true winning strategy.
I was there, proud and encouraging, as I watched my beloved begin to prove to the whole rest of the world that there was another way to live (and play) -- that was more exciting, more engaging -- BETTER.
And I was there, standing on my feet, with the rest of my friends and family, as I watched -- at the most pivotal moment in my beloved's life -- as the supposed arbiters of justice denied us the simple faith that right action and unmatched dedication to a cause can prevail against the world's darker interests. Instead they pummeled, and stole, and beat those boys bloody. And my heart broke as surely as every single one of the Kings' players and coach.
I doubt there is a true Sacramento Kings fan anywhere, who upon hearing that Donaghy (the disgraced NBA referee) has said that the 6th game of the 2002 Lakers-Kings playoff series was rigged, didn't already know it as fact in his or her true purple heart.
So, why don't I feel vindicated? Honestly, it may sound absurd, but it just reopens the wound. Skip and I had a party at the house for that game. Fifteen people whose blood continued to rise and rise and rise as we saw call after call go the wrong way; as we watched our guys -- that magnificent, amazing team: Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Mike Bibby, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Scot Pollard -- get kicked in the face over and over again, and felt each blow ourselves. No matter how many times they got back up, they were denied by forces larger than their hearts -- and who knew that was even possible?
When Skip came home last night and told me the news about Donaghy, my blood pressure shot up immediately. I was ranting and raving throughout dinner. And this morning, I am hung-over with lingering despondency. Wow, the world can suck.
I appreciate that maybe the truth will ultimately out here -- and that the Lakers will have to try again to justify winning that series against a more deserving, superior team who believed, along with the rest of us, that the game was about MERIT, about HEART, and about SKILL -- categories, all, in which as a team we had them BEAT. Let them be the black-marked 1919 White Sox of basketball. They deserve it for crowing about how they won a game anyone reasonable could see had been rigged -- and for the crass poor sportsmanship of calling us "whiners" and "Queens" for saying so.
Aach. My friends. The truth is that, just like my boys, I never recovered. As year after year, I watched the magical alchemy that was the 2001-2002 Season Kings get spread to the winds, I steadily lost interest in my beloved. I returned to my earlier interests, lost all curiosity about news from the sports page, became barely aware of when the season starts and stops. For a few years, back before I lost my NBA-fan innocence, that would have been inconceivable to me. But it's true. Having small children, and then, the loss of Rick Adelman, finally did in that great love affair. Out of time to care and out of interest, I thought I was over the Kings.
But, it's not so. Turns out my heart still bleeds purple.