I grew up as a New York Ranger fan just a few miles from Nassau Coliseum when the hated New York Islanders were winning four Stanley Cups in a row in the '80s. I think that's why I am so thrilled about the Dallas Mavericks beating the arrogant Miami Heat for the NBA Championship last night.
Those Islander teams were entirely too good - Billy Smith, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and so on - so the only thing we Ranger fans could do was accuse them of lack of class. [This charge coming from fans who chanted obscenities about Denis Potvin and domestic abuse... or who urged Flyers goalie Bryan Hextall to buy a Porsche because his predecessor, Pelle Lindbergh had been killed in a car accident in a Porsche... ah, the memories.] In some sense, we were the equivalent of Jews in the ghetto finding negative things to say about their powerful oppressors, regardless of how absurd or far-fetched, just to be able to say something at all.
It took me years of sports fanhood to overcome the memories of being a grade schooler and high schooler surrounded by fans of a team that won many more games, and many more titles, than we did. In the last several years, though, as I found very little time to pay attention to sports, the whole issue receded in my mind -
- Until there arose a team so arrogant, so classless and yet so talented, that it was the New York Islanders of the '80s all over again, and for real. Who cares if it was the wrong sport, and it revolved around a player [Lebron James] I had admired until then for his work ethic and humanity? Conspiring to join forces as though three powerful players could constitute a team, declaring themselves a dynasty before they had won a single game, celebrating and partying on an international stage - yes, I was good and ready to despise them.
Humility is good, Lebron, and it doesn't come from saying, "I'm humble," as you like to declare. It comes about when you suffer humbling experiences.
So now that Dallas has dispatched the Heat, I'm feeling pretty good. Is it beneath me? Probably. File it under indulging my inner child.