Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Agent -1

We live in Gilbert-less times; let the gnashing of teeth commence, all ye who enter here. Indeed, he who is known as Agent Zero has gone down, and we are left with dark times ahead. When I first heard that Gilbert Arenas had injured his knee, my first reaction was slightly curious: I felt cheated somehow. Gilbert would not be gracing this year’s playoffs with his presence, and I cursed the fates at this fact. It was as if some glorious possible future had been snatched away before it even had the chance to succeed or fail on its own merits.

I was looking forward to watching the Wizards trying to pull something silly in the Eastern Conference. Now, with his injury, I realized exactly what I was wanting: not to see the Wizards succeed, but to see them succeed in a specific context: with Arenas at the helm. With that chance evaporated, I couldn’t care less if the Wizards continued to exist at all.

I had constructed elaborate fantasies involving a rematch with LeBron’s Cleveland squad, or a shoot-out with a now-healthy Dwyane Wade, and a Herculean effort to overcome the Pistons. But, no more.

This same attitude explains my infatuation with young players (paging Chris Young; Chris Young, please pick up the white courtesy phone). It explains pre-season predictions, six hours of draft coverage, and Kevin Durant: when something hasn’t happened yet, it can’t go wrong. We’re free to invent whatever ideal reality we want, and to hold on to it for dear life.

Sadly, reality has a way of mucking these things up. The painful flipside of these wonderful fantasies is that they almost invariably fail. The gyroball doesn’t revolutionize baseball, and Michael Vick is a crummy quarterback. Damn.

We are then left with two choices: disappointment, or living totally in the present. Neither of these is particularly inviting. The reasons for the former’s distasteful nature are clear enough; and living completely in the moment robs us of any sense of the past or hope for the future. One of the most fool-proof ways to combat current disappointment is to invent the next fantasy and to cling to that one. But then we remain trapped in the same cycle of dashed hopes.

The key, then, is not to abandon these hopes. But when they don’t pan out, we must then look for the remaining good in the current situation. Gilbert may be on crutches, but LeBron is playing hard and Wade is healthy. Entertainment can still be had.

Now, if Carmelo and Iverson can mesh just in time...

No comments: