I don’t like math, and I don’t believe in it. I don’t think it should exist. But for now, while it does, I’ve had the math folks do some calculations for me, and they’ve come up with some really incredible stuff. The most amazing fact of all – and I had my math people send this to other math people just to make sure everything is as math-y as possible – is this: did you know that the average age of all Luka Dončićes and Kristaps Porzingii on the team is 23? I mean that really blew me away. I suggested doing some dendrochronology, but I was informed – rather rudely, if I may say – that neither of these players is a tree.
So why is this fact so important – the age, I mean, not the tree thing? Well, let me put it this way. I’m 35, and I’m still basically an effective basketball player most of the time. Never been great, still amn’t, but I frequently play in intramural leagues with people Luka’s age and younger and I hold my own at least one out of every three to five times. One of my favorite things – like many people who are on the verge of age-related death – is when some young person tries to back me down or post me up. What I tell them is this: you, sir or madam, are going to be less tired at the end of this game than I am at the beginning, but when it comes to elbows, no twenty year old who ever lived has the edge on a 35 year old who’s been playing since the mid-90s. But it is still true, that thing I said about how they’ll be less tired at the end of the game than I am at the beginning. And they’ll be less tired at every moment in between, as well. They’ll jump higher, they’ll run faster, and when the game’s over, their legs will probably still work in normal ways even without several days’ rest. EVEN without. It boggles the mind.
So here’s the situation: this is a season absolutely like no other. It started, then it stopped. It’s starting up again long after most seasons have been over. The last game of Raptors-Warriors, the 2019 Finals, happened on June 13, 2019, back when we used to go places, and do things, or enjoy some mysterious activity called “travel.” It is now mid-July of 2020 and it is the REGULAR SEASON that’s about to start up. It’s wild, it barely gets any wilder.
Meanwhile, the players are supposedly locked in some sort of Pauly Shore-esque Biodome, which I will believe just as soon as they stop getting caught not being locked in it. For anyone who thrives on routine – well, there is none. There’s been no season like this, and god willing, there won’t be one again. But you know who doesn’t need a routine very much? Young people. They stay up ‘til four, they get up at seven. They drink all night and don’t even need coffee in the morning. They sleep on the floor and are even able to get up without some sort of industrial crane. Their apartments look like hamster cages, except that sometime people who own hamsters clean those cages. “Breadsticks and diet coke” sounds like a good dinner to them. I could go on, but I’m getting heartburn just thinking about it.
The Mavericks are not the most talented team in the bubble in Florida. Continuing the annoying trend of making sure it’s virtually impossible for almost any team to compete with wherever the key free agent stars decided to go together at the last minute, the Lakers still have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Quinn Cook, and somebody named “Jared Dudley.” The Clippers still have Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Spongebob Squarepants. These are stacked rosters. Dallas has two budding stars, and, as in their golden years, a long and talented bench. It’s not the same.
You know what they do have, though? Extreme youthiness, at least where their star players are concerned. Those two guys are so young, neither of them knows who George W. Bush is. They’re so young, they think the Counting Crows are oldies, and think that Friends and I Love Lucy came out at around the same time. They’re so young, they can easily get up off the couch, whenever they feel like it. Nothing even pops in their knees and ankles! So if anyone can cope not just with starting the season at a dead sprint, but all the uncertainty and confusion of the Bubble Days, it’s the team whose two stars are together, just one year older than Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. LeBron James, who is 35 and has a different amount of hair every week, can’t say that. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who together have seen 59 years of age and only need twenty more to be considered for an influential position in the Democratic party, can’t say that. I believe. I believe.