A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. A four-day weekend comprised of eating and sports? What's not to like? As I grew older and began to better understand what the holiday is about, I only grew to enjoy it more. Giving thanks for what one has, showing gratitude, is one of the biggest keys to living a happy life. If there is a human trait deserving of a holiday, it's gratefulness.
At any given moment, we can find something to complain about: we might hate our job, our family might irritate us, maybe we want more money, etc. As Suns fans here, our current complaint is that the NBA lockout has taken away the sport we love. Before that, our complaint was that the Suns franchise is in decline, with a front office full of numbskulls and rubes, and an owner who is cheap and incompetent.
This has created an interesting dymanic here at BSotS. It reminds me of the old joke: "the food at that restaurant is terrilble, and the portions are so small!"
Last year was disastrous for the Suns: a team that pushed the eventual league champion to 6 games in the conference finals in 2009-2010 dropped by 13 regular season wins and missed the playoffs. The hand-wringing and "woe is me, we're doooooomed!" was more prevalent here than Marcin Gortat's nose is on his face.
But, now that we're staring into the abyss, the possibility of no NBA season at all, wouldn't a season of even a medicore or worse Suns team be great in comparison?
I thank you in advance for jumping it.
I've been a sports fan for as many of my 30-something years as I can remember. When I was a kid, it would sometimes make me cry when my team lost a tough game. As a young adult, I'd brood for a day or two and lash out at anyone who talked trash to me after a loss. Then I began to realize that, of course it's more fun to be a fan when my team is winning and contending. But the real joy is simply in being a fan, win or lose, championship contenders or doormats.
There is always something in these games to appreciate: a spectacular Steve Nash pass, a thunderous Hakim Warrick dunk, an unexpected performance from an unpopular player. And if you choose to be an optimist, there is always hope.
"This young player is gonna be great for us!"
"Nash is a freak of nature and therefore has a few years left as a top performer."
"Veteran role player X will continue to improve due to his high character and hard work."
Then there is the community that sports fosters: fans gathering in person and electronically to cheer or groan, celebrate or commiserate. Sharing the emotions and analysis of the game is a great deal of the experience, whether that's excitement for a team that has a chance to win it all, or the desire to light an underperforming member of the team on fire, in jest (at least, I think in jest).
All of this is what makes it fun to be a fan. It's why we keep coming back no matter how many tough losses, how many players we see leave when we'd like them to stay. And it's all better than lawyers arguing while we have no NBA to watch.
On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010, the Suns lost a thrilling but heartbreaking overtime game to the eventual Eastern Conference finalist Bulls. The Suns led by 19 after the first quarter and 12 going into the fourth but Derrick Rose and the Bulls proved to be too much in the end, as this recap by Alex Laugan and Seth Pollack details. The word "frustrating" appeared several times in the comments.
And it was frustrating. The Suns had a very good team down big, and then let them take the game at the end. It was a performance that, unfortunately, displayed a lot of the weaknesses that would haunt the Suns for their entire 40-42 campaign.
This Thanksgiving, we have no Suns basketball. We have no NBA at all, and the best we can possibly hope for is games by Christmas. When the lockout does eventually end, there's a fair chance that the Suns will be no better or possibly worse than last season's team. And I'm guessing it won't be long until somebody makes a comment along the lines of "the Suns suck so bad, I wish the lockout hadn't ended so I didn't have to watch this."
That comment won't be coming from me.
On this Thanksgiving, one thing I'm thankful for is that I'm a sports fan. I live a comfortable enough life that I can afford to care, to cheer, to gripe, and realize that the fortunes of my team aren't any kind of real hardship. Win or lose, it's all a celebration. And this lockout isn't lasting forever.
Your turn now, BSotS-ers. My questions for you:
And, don't forget to answer the critical question in the poll. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!