There’s nothing worse than showing up to a party that is just winding down. That’s kind of how I feel watching these NBA Finals. This has probably been the least amount of hoops I’ve watched in the past decade or so. I’ve always been a night owl, so one of the small pleasures of my life has been staying up to watch random Western Conference basketball games until well after midnight.
Life has changed a lot since our daughter was born last July, and while it’s mostly been an incredible ride, there have things that have just fallen to the wayside. I’m not going to bother you, dear reader, with all the details of what it’s like to be a new parent, others have written more eloquently about the joys and horrors of parenthood than I ever could. For the purposes of this post just know that my nights have become mostly a resource management game with sleep and doing anything else - and I have it easy compared to my superhuman wife.
The short take is that I’ve gone from studiously watching hundreds of games a year, to kind of half paying attention to a couple dozen this year. In a way it’s been a nice break. I’ve definitely had years where I’ve been completely burnt out of hoops by mid-April because I was so invested in how every team was doing in December. Let me tell you, that there is nothing more exhausting than getting really worked up about how the Los Angeles Clippers are playing in the middle of winter. I love following the dozens of stories that define an NBA regular season, but it does eventually wear you down.
There were nights during the Playoffs when I would, against all wisdom, try to stay awake to watch a Golden State or Portland playoff game, and then hate myself when I had to get up at six to watch the baby. The result has been this give and take with my own sanity. There are days when I just have to completely rip myself away from the NBA Borg that is watching games, reading Twitter or Reddit, or listening to the increasingly exhausting number of quality hoops podcast on the market. I knew all it would take to make me want to stay up too late again, would be a couple hits off of NBA Twitter. There are no half-measures when it comes to my NBA fandom.
The thing that makes following the NBA so great is also the thing that makes it hard to quit. When you are fully invested there is an almost limitless amount of content to take in. I’ve always said that hoops writers are the best sports writers on the planet. There’s always a handful of good things to get up and read in the morning, and at least two or three NBA podcasts to make the commute go faster. If you want to catch up on last night’s games there are a number of startling good Youtube Channels that have you covered with game recaps and player highlights. If you’re bored at work you can jump on NBA Reddit, which is one of the last bastions of great, really funny internet discourse. Then there is glorious NBA Twitter, which has made watching games about 5x more interesting, and is a 27/7 resource of hilarity, analysis, and general hijinks.
It’s easy to get sucked into the NBA in a way that can completely consume you more than any other major sport. It makes it tough to break-away from. I’ve definitely had withdrawal symptoms this season. Which probably explains why I would stay up way too late to catch a meaningless mid-season game just to get a taste of that past life. I don’t do well at multitasking. The most frustrating moments of being a new dad have been trying to watch games, or write a blog post, while my daughter is upset that we are not playing. It was easier to go all-in on being a full time dad than it was trying to split my time and attention between work and fatherhood.
Not writing about basketball has been rough. It’s my favorite way to express myself creatively, and not being able to do so much this year has made me a lot crankier, and tougher to live with I’m sure. Just ask my wife on that one. But getting to watch my daughter go from being this helpless and helplessly adorable newborn to a crawling (almost walking!), laughing, bundle of joy has been the greatest pleasure of my life. I know that next year I’ll probably be back in the fray, watching too much basketball, complaining about the Lakers front office to anyone who will listen, and trying to find that perfect work-life balance. For now I’ll take in these last moments of this season, grateful that I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter. I missed being away from the game I love this season, but I’ll remember the moments I spent with my daughter this year for the rest of my life.
That said, I would love for the Warriors to make this season just one game longer.