There are times when I see something happen in a basketball game so deeply irrational that even when it happens in service of the team I root for (The Portland Trail Blazers), I am haunted by an undercurrent of unnerved loathing for the very process of reality itself, of the fucking random nonsense that drives the moment to moment of existence, that I just can’t appreciate it in any real way. I am unable to truly celebrate. Instead, I am left like Roger Mexico staring at a map of V2 strikes and declaring, with full confidence, that there is no order in the universe at all, that death and victory alike are just matters of cosmic dice throws, that the world is not run by anything deeper in our minds or our hearts, but by trillions of quantum vibrations that we can’t feasibly sort through.
Would a more romantic reading of this shot mean that he is actually Damian Slothrop? Wandering around Europe, fucking everything that moves, inadvertently calling the horrifying force of the V2 down on his lovers?
Most of the shot was everything we’ve seen about the man’s greatest moments, playing out in a way that has become very nearly rote— clutch shot, hand in his face extraordinary distance. These are the shots that have made the Blazers fandom regard Damian as they would their father or Captain Picard, a force of paternal, warm goodness, the greatest Blazer ever and a sweetie to boot, an underdog who faced unspeakable odds blah blah blah you get it. Frankly, I’ve begun to think the relationship we have with this one guy has become somewhat unhealthy. We can’t make ourselves appreciate any other point guards without spitting on their graves and declaring them inferior to Dame, the way every media list becomes an excuse to really consider and meditate on how much the press disrespects Portland and Lillard and Us and Our Children and out War Dead.
But considering the ecstatic wonder of these shots, who am I to judge? He changes water into wine in a city where the home team’s most prominent moments have generally involved losing to world-historic basketball geniuses for stupid reasons. Why wouldn’t we regard him as one does the Christ and write breathless gospels exalting his glory and the persecution he faced?
But once the shot makes that down arc, it becomes perverted and twisted, inside out, staged in such an extreme and extravagant way that it feels like fate itself is somehow mocking us. The shot just sucks ass. A million out of a million and one times, that shit is as horrible as that hilarious Tim Hardaway side-of-the-backboard-brick that the game ended on. It’s entirely too fucking high. It bounces off the rim and soars in the air. It drops into the hoop. Here on the local broadcast, Lamar Hurd tried to give credence to Lillard’s touch as the product of that horseshit but, c’mon man. There is absolutely nothing about that make that has anything to do with touch. And unless you really think that A. Lillard actually IS God or B. Zeus himself has christened him new Hector* and warped reality in his favor, you watch that shot and know that outcome is fucking bullshit.
It stands all of the love Dame receives for his big moments in front of your face and it reveals that, when you stare a the map and really get down to the truth of it, this is just randomly dispersed dots on a fucking map, these shots are the product of leverage meeting luck meeting the subatomic fluctuations in the basketball. It takes the cultish love of the Blazer faithful and subjects it to the ultimate eye roll, a completely irrational event being infused with an absurd amount of meaning in the most absurd time to be alive that I can even remember.
*this would make LeBron Achilles, which probably bodes poorly for the Blazers in the playoffs. Also he totally is anyway. I must be like the five hundredth person to say this. If his career doesn’t end on an Achilles tear, reality should be regarded as fundamentally broken.