You don’t know me, and we live very different lives. You are an 18-year NBA veteran, a 10-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Medalist, and one of the half dozen greatest point guards to ever pick up a basketball. On the other hand, I am in a cubicle drinking my third cup of coffee before 8 o’clock this morning and asking myself, “How much McDonald’s breakfast is too much McDonald’s breakfast?”
Despite these apparent differences, let me tell you: I know what you’re going through.
You stink. I don’t mean that as an insult, Jason. Truly, I don’t. I have enormous respect for your game and for everything you’ve accomplished: The “Three J’s” Baby Mavs were one of the first basketball teams that captured my imagination, you were a key cog in the team that vanquished the 2011 Heat, and, when I was in 4th grade, your kicks were the dopest thing a young fella could own.
But, Jason, you haven’t made a shot since April 23rd. I mean, that was back when Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was still Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. That was pre-Daft Punk, pre-Gatsby, pre-Charles Ramsey. Your last basket came so many memes ago!
In that time, you’ve missed 16 shots – 10 of them your specialty stand-still 3 – in 177 minutes and your team has been outscored by 25 points with you on the floor. Now your second-seeded Knicks are on the verge of near-certain extinction against a younger, better Pacers squad. I think you’ve met the end of the road, Jason.
I know what it’s like to realize the game is done with you. It hurts. Basketball is a cruel mistress that way.
When I was nine years old, I was a beast. A total mold-breaker. A wide-bodied combo guard with a knack for crashing the offensive glass. I made a reverse layup in a game once. It was incredible.
Five years later, as a ninth grader, I was done. The ball got bigger, but my hands didn’t, and thus went my jump shot. With my jump shot went my confidence. My post-pubescent metabolism slowdown didn’t help either. (I went from “wide-bodied” to “pear-shaped”.) Eventually, I found myself mostly doing comedy bits and impressions of teammates from the bench. By 17 I was writing for the sports section of the school paper.
Here’s the point, Jason: it’s hard to say goodbye to basketball, but life has a way of recovering. You’ll get a job that pays the rent and lets you buy buckets of beer with your buddies. If you make a point of it, you can find something your passionate about that fills the creative void too. I suggest improv comedy, but woodworking, photography, cooking, and Bikram Yoga are all fine substitutes. (As I’m typing this, I’m remembering how little we actually have in common. You’ve made more than $180 million in your career and I’m wondering if McDonald’s is still serving breakfast.)
You’re going to be okay without basketball, Jason. I promise. We all learn that our own way.
– Chandler Goodman