Saturday, March 30, 2013

the last book I ever read (Bill Bradley's Life on the Run, excerpt eight)

from Life on the Run by Bill Bradley:

My guest for the evening has seen her first professional basketball game. I like her detached perspective. She waits for me with the wives, girl friends, and acquaintances of the other players. Twenty people sit in empty seats at halfcourt while the Garden maintenance crew dismantles the hardwood floor. As we leave the building, she comments, “What’s so strange is how quickly everyone leaves. There are these frantic emotional moments with everyone sky high. Then it’s over, just like that.” She is right. Although it will take me four hours to come down from the game’s high, it is over “just like that.” Massive amounts of energy are expended, and then there is a silent void. There is a feeling of desolation about the Garden after a game. Paper cups, hot dog wrappers, programs, and popcorn boxes litter the arena floor—the residue of the same appetite that consumed the players’ performance. The cleaning women, shrieking at each other in three languages and sounding like jungle birds in the vacant arena, soon sweep it all away, and tomorrow the excitement of another game will recharge the air.

The abruptness of a game’s end, however, never strikes me as much as the change that comes with the season’s end. For eight months you play basketball and think about basketball; your happiness depends on basketball. Then it is over. Nothing fills the void. Fans and reporters seem to accept it, unaware that for some of us it can never be just the conclusion of a natural cycle. At the end of the season I find myself struggling awkwardly for a proper rhythm, like a novice drummer. For a few days I wander aimlessly, unaccustomed to the slowed pace, to the absence of flights and new cities, to the prospect of no work for four months. Gradually other interests impose routines on daily living and purpose replaces restlessness. Then, as September approaches, preparation for another season speeds up activity and basketball again dominates. But when there are no more Septembers with basketball, what happens then? Will it be over “just like that”?

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