Age. It puts things in perspective. Once, life was a series of open windows, each and every one lined with an invitation to flights beyond your wildest dreams. But the onset of age brings aches and pains, a deep and profound awareness of your physical and mental and emotional limits, financial and social responsibilities that hold the head of your ambitions and dreams under the water until they stop thrashing and accept the fate they’ve been assigned.
This offseason, we’ve already seen one NBA player accept the end of his most glorious ambitions. LeBron James has exiled himself to Los Angeles, divorced himself from anything resembling a title contending core, opted out of the race for titles and sliding into a lane where he can pursue his post-playing career ambition of being a pizza salesman who produces movies. Homer won’t write “Iliad 2” about it, but it will almost certainly make him successful and rich beyond the wildest dreams of any rational person.
Earlier this week, we saw the next one succumb and accept the knife of middle age, when it was reported that Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder, facing a colossal tax payment on his account, would part ways, either via trade or some other mechanism.
Melo spent his career seeking something different than titles or whatever. What Melo wanted was less grandiose but, in its way, more heroic: He wanted to be the man. Get the ball in his hands and let the man score. Beat that buzzer on TNT. Perform admirably in a seven game series that he loses with honor. It wasn’t what society tries to tell players to do, especially in this quantitative age, but it wasn’t for society, man. It was for Melo, it was for the art of being the man.
But it’s over as hell. After a year getting utterly sidelined by Russell Westbrook and becoming more massive-cap-burden than man, Melo is washed, and it’s time for him to play out the string on a team where he can sit back and enjoy himself in some weird milieu and just like, be washed and accept it about himself. Fifteen points a game on too many shots, occasional vintage revivals, chilling at nice restaurants and galleries, doing some speculative real estate purchasing. You know, all that older moderately wealthy guy stuff.
And so, in this time, we set aside and observe a few teams and cities, seeing if Melo could bring them something, but, more importantly, seeing is Melo can get something out of them, one by one.