All right, I won't lie: it sucks to see the Dallas Mavericks lose the NBA Finals. However, what did we "lose"? I don't think we lost anything. The Mavs made it all the way to the finals. That in itself is an accomplishment. The Mavs will be back playing next season at the very least. However, saying this on the morning after is like being all upbeat at a funeral. Well, this is not a funeral service; this is the blogosphere and here are my thoughts.
I come from Houston, a city that had its NBA team claim the NBA title a couple of times in the '90s. Yes, seeing them win was awesome, but I remember way more about the experience than the actual outcomes of the games. Seeing guys like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexlar play great ball was memorable to see. Until I read their Wikipedia profile this morning, I had forgotten who they played and such and such. The point is, there are so many small things that matter more than winning and losing.
I know I may sound like a calm parent trying to comfort his crying child, but I can't help saying this. Eventually the victory parties, the kisses on the trophy, the hand gestures of "number one," the parades, the applauding and the other post-victory celebrations will end and a new season will begin. We don't stay stuck in the perpetual motion of victory fever forever. Sure, I can understand how important the Boston Red Sox defeating the New York Yankees broke "the Curse," but not all victories are like this.
As conveyed in Friday Night Lights, there can be a lot more learned from a loss than a victory. Of course there is a hopeful mindset to have a perfect season and win the championship, but come on, that's living in a fantasy land. Sure, winning the big game or the series (depending on the sport) is a nice cherry on top, but there is so much more of a pie below to enjoy. Just because there isn't a cherry on top doesn't mean the pie is bad.
What I take from watching the 2006 NBA finals is this: seeing guys like Dirk, Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse play incredible basketball, the American Airlines Center packed with "NBA Finals" banners all around it, the nervous fun I had watching the games, the annoyance of the thinly-veiled Miami Heat fandom from the TV commentators, and other things. An NBA championship win would be remembered in my mind, but as a fairweather professional sports fan and coming from a town that did win the championship a couple of times years ago, I think that's a pleasant reminder, but not something that's going to improve my everyday life.
In the final seconds of last night's game, when it was abundantly clear that the Mavericks were going to lose, I turned off the TV. I didn't want to see Heat players like Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal cop their arrogant smiles, thank God, Jesus and Mom, spray champagne over each other while the Mavericks look all down and out. I figured that would be prolonging the abuse. So, with that, I went back to work on the book. The book is something that really energizes me and seeing the Mavericks play all throughout the playoffs was some great inspiration. The path to a better understanding of yourself is not easy and this year's playoffs were not easy. While there were a couple of blow-outs, both teams played incredibly well in the finals.
We can be easily led into thinking that life is about big wins and big losses. Well, so much of what I've experienced are small victories at the same time of small defeats. As someone who couldn't fully enjoy these small victories for a long time, I'm glad that I can now. No, I don't enjoy not getting what I want when I want, but who am I kidding? I'm thankful for what I have, but there's always a desire for more. I try and really focus on the matters and things that I have over the ones that I don't, but that's kind of difficult to do most of the time.
Jason and I have a friend nicknamed Goose, who is from San Antonio. I remember how happy he was when the Spurs won the NBA playoffs (the thrill in his voice, his message board avatar featuring a Spur), but was his life forever made better by these wins? I don't think so; he's moved on with his life with finishing up school and moving out to San Francisco to do graphic design. I'm sure he'll still brag about the Spurs to us, but I don't think their wins affect his times with his friends, his work and his overall view of life. That makes me wonder: how important are wins to the fans? They are very important, but I think there are much more important things in life to cherish.