Perhaps I’m feeling wistful because last October, we didn’t have our normal schedule. There’s a clock to this, a rhythm, that we have spent our entire lives attuned to. Hockey and basketball start during the MLB playoffs. Go a year without it, and suddenly the axis is off, red lights are blinking, there’s a weird clanging noise, etc.
So they may be insignificant in this season, but both the best of the NBA and NHL provided us reminders why we call them that last night. And it’s important, at a time when there’s much more to bitch about in sports, or to feel completely deflated by, to remind ourselves that it’s good to be wowed. It’s good to like stuff. After all, why do we do it if not?
Steph Curry dropped 45 on the Clippers last night in a 115-113 Warriors win. Which isn’t news in itself, except that when Curry drops a big number like that it’s usually in the most entertaining fashion possible. A lot of players put up 40 or 50 and a good portion is at the free throw line, or through economical layups with a sprinkling of midrange Js and threes. You look up and are surprised by the total in the fourth quarter. When Curry goes off, it feels like a firebombing. The foundations on the block shake. He keeps extending our perceptions of NBA offense. We know what reasonable scoring is supposed to look like, and then Curry comes along and sees the Matrix and bends reality just a bit. Still within the bounds of our perception, but enough to make us wonder how.
I mean, he pulls this up like this is a completely normal distance for a jumper. This is the parking lot that he treats like a corner three, if not even 12-footer:
We’ve been watching Curry do this for nearly a decade now. It shouldn’t even be a surprise. And yet every so often you remember that this isn’t normal NBA offense. That range is supposed to be a desperation heave or the ravings of a madman. It’s just part of Curry’s game. It stretches our borders. You can easily say that no one saw or thought of this before Curry made it part of our basketball lexicon.
On the ice, Connor McDavid is doing that thing again. He’s got 11 points in four games to start the season, with another three last night in a 5-1 Oilers victory. That would only be a 225-point pace for a full season, so clearly he’s not going to keep that up. But McDavid does make us think about numbers we haven’t since 1988 or thereabouts.
Here’s one of his goals tonight:
This isn’t his best goal, or even close. But it’s just so effortless. He can do this whenever he wants, or so it feels like, watching it. He skates around the Coyotes forward Johan Larsson like he was just some old coffee table dumped out on the sidewalk for someone to take, and deposits the puck at the far post just like a check at the ATM. It’s flippant. Yeah, it’s the Coyotes, and they look helpless most of the time. But this is a different level of it. This is getting their lunch money taken without even a threat. Just an acceptance that they’re beaten. A normal transaction.
This doesn’t happen every night. It happens a lot of nights, but not enough that we should always brush them off. There are amazing things happening on the fields, courts, and rinks, (last night we had them all) and sometimes you do have to focus so as to not let them drown in the bullshit that surrounds them. Do the latter too often, and you’ll lose the ability to see the former again. What would be the point of that?