Dev starts to tear up as Sasha Vujacic hits another free throw, putting the Lakers up 4 with 11 seconds left in the game.

I feel like Dev looks, but an ingrained parental mechanism keeps me from showing it. Something about a father and son jointly overcome with grief over a sporting event strikes me as pathetic.

So I have to be the strong one.

“No need to cry,” I say as the clock ticks down.

I fumble for the remote. I can’t watch the Lakers celebrate. I hit the power button just as Kobe Bryant starts to jump around the court. At least we manage to avoid the confetti.

“So you want to play some pool?” I say.

Dev just sits there, red-eyed and sniffling.

“It’s just a basketball game,” I say.

God, listen to me. The Lakers just squeaked past us in a Finals Game 7 where we led most of the way, and I’m calling it just a basketball game. I can practically hear Jack Nicholson cackling all the way from Los Angeles.

“That was bullcrap,” Dev says. Bullcrap is one of those borderline curse words he’s allowed to say without being yelled at.

“Yes it was,” I agree, keeping calm.

“The officials sucked,” he says. Suck is another one of those words.

Now if I were talking to Bill, I would agree wholeheartedly that the officials sucked. I’d go off on the home-cookin’ calls down the stretch, and I might even gripe about how I thought Kobe intentionally undercut Perkins from behind in Game 6 to bust up his leg and keep him out of Game 7. With Bill, I could be my illogical, irrational fan self without consequences.

But this isn’t Bill. This conversation has consequences. Hell, past conversations had consequences, the result of which I’m seeing right now.

Time to end the cycle.

“Now, now,” I say. “The Lakers won fair and square.”

Dev drops his face into a couch pillow and cries into it. His muffled weeping makes me feel concern, guilt and anger all at once. Concern because I worry how he’ll weather disappointments in the future. Guilt because I may be partly to blame for his breakdown. Anger because I want to just put this moment of Celtic defeat behind me, and his crying isn’t helping. Not to mention, I really hate the idea that the Lakers can make my kid cry. It’s like they have power over us, and that’s discomforting.

“Hey, hey, hey,” I say. “Come on. This isn’t the end of the world.”

The noise from the pillow stops, but Dev keeps his face buried in shame.

“You know what?” I say. “In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal.”

Dev lifts his reddened face off the pillow to absorb my words of wisdom.

“I mean, someday, I’m going to die,” I say. “And someday, you’ll die. And…this game won’t mean anything at all, really.”

Dev looks at me like I’m insane. I think he might be right.

“That wasn’t very comforting, was it,” I say.

Dev’s head drops back into the pillow.

Billiard balls rattle behind us. Tooth and Patch are at the pool table. I wait for the inevitable snide comment – to be told how closely I came to acting mature, and blew it.

No such comment comes. For the first time, Patch and Tooth are speechless.

I leave Dev alone to mourn in private. Anything I say at this point will only do more harm than good.

And besides, I can’t take any more crying.

************

Links:
Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly, Chapter 21 / 22: standard deviation, all the pretty flowers, Chapter 23: Game 3: Black Hills, Chapter 24: Twister, Chapter 25: Game 4, Chapter 26: Patriotic Agony, Chapter 27: Locusts, Chapter 28: skype, Chapter 29: Click, Chapter 30: Superman, Chapter 30: Ass Brunch Chapter 32: Mammoth, Chapter 33: Pathetic, Chapter 34: Purple and Gold, Chapter 35: Chowdah, Chapter 36: Mastermind, Chapter 37: m&m cookie dough, Chapter 38: taste, Chapter 39: Dance with the Devil, Chapter 40: Game 7, Chapter 41: 17 to 11, Chapter 42: One Mold

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9 Comments:
Anonymous Math2 said...
Chapter 40?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Misprint! Fixed.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Another video of Bryant to Rose

Bryant to Rose

Anonymous Danny said...
That game was so surreal. It is one of the ugliest games I'll ever watch.

In the first half, KG made a ridiculous banker after being fouled that was for some reason waved off, every Laker not named Sasha managed to brick a FT, and Rasheed-fucking-Wallace, who was thoroughly obliterating the L.A. frontline in the post, decided to retreat to the perimeter. Actually, now that I think about it, Sheed was also a part of that 2000 Portland team that "choked" in Game 7, where the FT disparity was pretty egregious. Must've sucked to be a part of that twice.

Blogger lordhenry said...
Good writing I actually feel bad for the celtics fans in the story, even though this was one of the greatest moments in my sports life.

This is hard to do simply becuase all thru game 7 my buddies (who became celtics fans temporarily during the finals) rooted against me, and then when Sasha hit those free throws, they walked away in disgust, defeated at last.

And props for giving nicholson a cameo, even though we disagree about Heath, who I agree was excellent in a "Knight's Tale"

I'm sorry, Gary Oldman does a good job as the commish, and I always enjoy Aaron Eckhart, who I thought did a great job as Harvey Dent. It's hard to make a character like that 3-dimensional, when you are waiting for him to turn into two-face for most of the movie.

Blogger Rhett said...
you continue to surprise me! great touch with the storytelling, using the game 7 reveal to build suspense and develop the character. well played, sir, well played.

Blogger Dan B. said...
Completely unrelated, but this had to be shared: a 1995 Washington Bullets rap. Phenomenally mid-90s.

Blogger TeamD said...
Oh man, my Muresan is there, and Cwebb LOL, nice track.

Ted, rock on... enjoy reading it everyday.

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