The competitive part of last night’s Game 2 between the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards was over, long over, by the time some combination of shame and embarrassment sparked a smidgen of detectable pride or competitive intensity in any Washington player. The result was a laughably misleading 11-point margin of defeat, on a night Toronto could have doubled them up.
Great googly moogly, did the Raptors ever mop the floor with these frauds! The first quarter was about as lopsided a basketball exhibition as I’ve seen that didn’t involve Curly Neal.
Here is how basically every possession went: A Raptor made a simple pass to a teammate left wide open on the three-point arc by the Wizards’ trash-ass flat-footed defense; whichever idiot Wizard happened to be nearest panicked and flew by on an out-of-control closeout; the Raptor with the ball took one dribble inside the arc, then kicked the ball to yet another wide-open teammate, who either repeated the process, or, out of pity for the blue-clad crap-bags standing around with glazed eyes and fingers jammed up their noses or throwing themselves into the stands in empty performance of “defense,” could rise for an open jumpshot. Whereupon Bradley Beal would foul him in the act of shooting.
The Raptors are very good, because they have lots of big and athletic and multiple-skilled dudes on their roster, but much more importantly because those dudes do not need the humiliation of having their gonads punted out through the tops of their heads to arrive at the idea that maybe they should start investing some bare modicum of focus and dignity and effort into this thing they do for a living on television with many millions of people watching. In all of these respects, they are nothing like the Washington Wizards.
The Raptors scored 44 points in the first quarter and led by 17 when it ended, though they’d had more than double Washington’s point total for most of it and led by as much as 22. Some shit happened after that; at some point the Raptors relaxed, sensibly, and John Wall decided the time had arrived to save face via an insulting and too-late 18-minute demonstration of the level of aggression and intensity a player or team who actually wanted to continue their season—rather than avoid blame for the early end of it—would have brought to the opening tipoff. Bradley Beal continued fouling jumpshooters.
Do you remember the old NES game Gyromite? It was a side-scrolling platforming game in which you controlled a little white-haired mad scientist as he attempted to defuse bundles of dynamite, in what I remember as his science laboratory, rendered as a screen full of layers of platforms connected by ropes or ladders. You had to be thoughtful about how you approached each level: The scientist could not jump, and could only use ropes or ladders to ascend, so you wanted to make sure you didn’t end up beneath where you needed to be unless you had access to a rope or ladder to get back up.
When I was a kid, we had a hair-metal frontman living in the basement of our house; he was sort of like a surrogate uncle, with a giant mane of spiky black hair-metal hair and lots of eyeliner. Anyway, one time he was playing Gyromite on our NES, and he somehow got the little scientist guy stranded in a small pit on the bottom floor of a level with no way to get back up and like 900 seconds left on the countdown clock. This was doom; the only thing to do was to reset the NES and start over.
But instead of doing that, he began making the scientist run back and forth, rapidly, inside the little pit. “I’m digging him out!” he insisted. For like 900 seconds he insisted that he could see the pit getting wider, that eventually it would be wide enough for the scientist to escape, somehow. Even as a very little kid, I knew this was insane, but I also couldn’t help but root for this stupid doomed effort, and even maybe admire it a little for reasons I never will understand. Only years later did it occur to me that he was probably stoned.
Is that a parable? I honestly don’t know. It had more drama than last night’s game.