I went over to my boss’s place to watch Game 4. This 2,000 square foot apartment at the heart of Wicker Park. Elevator opens up and you’re in the living room. Met by this white piano. As he starts to walk you through the room he says “viking table” and “I picked out the chairs, the rest is Mary” and you’re looking at the paintings of Chaplin and the white rug on the ground made from some animal he never identifies and there is glass and crystal and the smell of “Effort” everywhere.
If you fed Pier 1 an all-steak and red wine diet for a year you’d have this apartment. You start to think about what type of experience you’re about to have watching a game that’s very important to you. Can you really let your hair down in here, you ask yourself.
My boss is a tennis pro. He’s also been a school principal, on Wall Street, and for a brief period of time he tried to be a state senator but “couldn’t get enough votes, man.” He’s not a basketball man at all, but he likes to talk about it and he gets into it and I can deal with all that if he says he’ll get Lou Malnati’s pizza during the game. When the second quarter really got into itself and the Thunder extended their lead — Durant and Westbrook co-producing, co-directing, and co-starring in their own modern day version of Fantasia if lasers actually shot out from the screen and all the music was just them playing LaRue’s “Oklahoma Breakdown” over and over — my boss really began to feel it. Get tore up.
When TNT showed Pop making the all-time Pop face, looking something like this, my boss said, “Look at this guy. He needs some Advil.”
When Russ decided to dunk on two Spurs at once off a backdoor feed from Smiles Perkins, my boss said, “That’s a professional basketball player right there” which is great, and also fantastic, and more heavy of a truth than the million analogies/similes that get tweeted out by you, me, and everyone else with an ache for retweets when Russ does yet another something where he’s all, “No, gravity is for you. Not me. My home is (points to a starry sky) up there.”
In the third quarter when the Thunder were running at peak This Is Awesome, my boss, uncomfortable with extended silences, asked me, “How bout that movie Glory Road?”
He could’ve searched within himself for fifteen years and not found a more perfect question to ask. How about it? He followed that up a few minutes later with, “You saw that movie Remember The Titans?”
Yes. I did. I have a heart and a soul, don’t I? I agree. That movie was awesome.
When Reggie and Kerr and Marv were looking for something to talk about and found themselves so desperate they landed on the possibility of the Thunder’s starters playing too many minutes and being tired for Game 5, my boss, looking at Westbrook after he made the most ridiculous layup I might have ever seen, said, “Look at this guy. He’s not gonna get tired for ten years. He’s a (expletive) antelope.”
I’m leaving that alone because that’s perfect. That’s a perfect thing to say in that situation.
At the end of the game when the clock had struck 0′s and the wreckage fell where it had once stood, my boss asked me what the series was at now. I told him 2-2.
“Now it’s a mutually exclusive event,” he says.
And I loved that line, too. Because it is. Despite the lovely hell that the Thunder poured out onto the Spurs over the course of Games 3 and 4, all that’s really happened thus far is what was supposed to happen. The Spurs won two at their place and the Thunder won two at theirs. And if a series does not truly start until a road team wins one, then we’re all just waiting around for a series to start still. We all know the Thunder have to take one in the shadow of the Alamo. If we want to buy our NBA Finals edition Hasheem Thabeet jerseys, one game has to be won in the Silver and Black Death Dome.
And the Thunder look ready to do it. They look primed to continue their onslaught. The quotes out of the Spurs camp are promising because they’re so confused, so at the end of their rope, Manu saying they need to be more perfect, which seems like a high bar to set. But if this postseason has taught us anything, it’s that the game(s) that just happened meant nothing at all. Previous success, even if it’s major, does not then guarantee future joy.
The story has shifted now, from the Thunder being dead in the water, to the Spurs being helpless against the sheer Ibaka-ness of OKC and their aerial attack. The Spurs could come out tonight and lay one down and then it’s back to “WHATS WRONG WITH OKC?” Who knows. It’s the Playoffs. They’re so fun.