It's been one week since the great abomination ended and it seems much longer. I had thought to chronicle it, but didn't. Last Friday, I stayed up late, tracking yet another negotiating session, the first since the disbanding of the union. It wasn't the legal giants, the men who arch fingers and shape laws and landmarks. Instead, it was the same group that had battled so long and so hard. Minus Jeffrey Kessler.
My head hurt and my throat hurt. Sharp stabbing shards in my temples and the hard lump that makes it a chore to swallow. It was the wee hours and I packed it in, keeping my cell nearby. Only able to sleep in short stretches, feeling someplace out of body. Checking the tiny glowing screen in darkness, periodically. And at some point saw that it had finally ended. And could finally sleep.
I wore a stupid grin all day and exchanged messages and read a flood of accountings – time washed by like an ecstatic blur, white light and clicking keys. But distractions as well, work had rappelled down like an assassin and when the work's there you take it. And days passed with trade rumors and B-issues and I put down thoughts and filed them away and found myself returning to lockout wounds and wondering if you can just flip the switch. And working and typing and the screen goes black. "No operating system found."
Life can throw all manner of curves. You burn your toast, you discover a new cavity. A sunny day, your laptop crashes. You make a perfectly good piece of toast. Your middle-aged next door neighbor screams at his girlfriend between the hours of three and five AM when you have to get up at six. The cops come at five-thirty. Their red and blue lights throw a charming pattern on your blinds.
Yesterday, NBA gyms around the country opened for business. At the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, nobody bothered to show. Similar stories at other gyms and again I wondered, do we have the right to expect happy players after five months of ugliness? The owners could have gotten this exact same deal without losing a game, without breaking a sweat. Instead, they made it personal.
Forget about it Dave, it's Chinatown.
There are wild rumors about a trade involving some combination of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, for Dwight Howard. This is NBA normalcy. The season is returning. The players signed and scanned their cards and sent them in. The union is reforming. The lockout lasted 149 days. There will come a cold winter night, not long from now, when I'll be staring at a TV screen. Thoughts will go away. Shots will arc high, through a bank of lights. And it will have become the players' league once again.
In early June, I wrote about the uncertainty and the eventual coming of the season – that the clock would reset, the system would restore. It has been raining all day. Over the past hour, my sore throat has finally turned into a full blown cold. I have sneezed a couple dozen times, including on the laptop I borrowed. The neighbor has turned on his music. He's yelling again. My dog's sleeping, oblivious. In the cupboard, there are packets of Theraflu. I'm putting the water on to boil. The season is here again.