As You Stay For the Play/Fantasy Has In Store for You…

… A glowing light will see you through
It’s your day shining day
All your dreams come true

-Earth Wind and Fire

To be quite honest, while Earth Wind and Fire’s song does sort of correlate with this post, the picture is gratuitous. However, it is not often I have an excuse to post picture that begs the question, Does the guy in the top left corner get cold when he goes out wearing nothing above the waist but a tiny unbuttoned vest, or is this his spring outfit as the pastels suggest? This, of course, is not the only question that this glorious picture raises in my mind, but I digress…

Fall is here, which means the NBA basketball season has arrived. The beginning of the season is bad news for the part of me that wishes to be an active, engaged and productive member of society. This is not to say that I am not a bit distracted by NBA basketball year-round. Whenever the NBA Draft comes around, I seriously consider taking the day off. Additionally, Henry Abbott’s True Hoops Blog assures that I will be up to date on off-season trade rumors, which players have been most recently spotted at the Cheesecake Factory, and the number of players using alternative medicine to heal chronic injuries (You know, I really think Tracy McGrady’s new acupuncture regiment is going to help his explosiveness when he returns in late November).

My preoccupation actually intensified most in 2000 when I discovered fantasy basketball. For those of you who  don’t know what fantasy basketball is, it is an online competition where participants in a “league” draft players from the actual pool of NBA professionals in an effort to compose the most statistically excellent roster. The “team” that best demonstrates statistical superiority over weekly league opponents, or in some cases, accumulates the best statistics over the course of the  year, wins.

As if the inherent competition of fantasy basketball did not add enough intensity to the experience, good-natured (and sometimes bad-natured) trash talking can become a major part of the experience, which often further escalates the experience. Sometimes “managers” will take on persona, and talk utilizing this alter-ego throughout the season. I have taken to acting as Donald Sterling’s personal assistant as manager of the WWDonaldSterlingDo team; a play on WWJD (What would Jesus Do?) wrist bands, while referencing one of the worst NBA team owners of all time: current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. These personas and faux conflicts between managers can inspire some incredibly creative discourse and oftentimes amusing insults.

Typically one to shy away from conflict, swearing, and insults, I unleashed one of my brother’s favorite tirades upon a trash-talking competitor, during which I compared him to Aaron Neville’s mole, “useless, potentially cancerous, and nobody knows why the f*@k he’s there.” Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), coming up with such insults is both a source of mild pride and mild shame.

This year, I am in a league with my brother and some of his friends, as well as a family league, which includes four of my cousins, my brother, my uncle, my dad, and one of my close childhood friends. I participated in both leagues last year, and they provide endless entertainment, and in the case of the family league, some seemingly out of place dinner conversation (which, I know makes absolutely no sense to 99% of the world’s population).

I mean, there’s nothing like having one’s brother criticize one’s dad about fantasy basketball roster moves over Thanksgiving dinner: “Dad, I can’t believe you released Andrei Kirilenko. You have no idea how valuable he is! He gets you both blocks and steals! Can you pass the mashed potatoes?”

Family league also has the potential to facilitate embarrassment. Last year, due to a side bet, my dad and I had to get in line last for food on Christmas day since our teams were the worst two teams at the time. This is not a big deal as far as food goes, for there is always plenty. It is more about the public humiliation. (To add insult to injury, my team actually finished last. Though in my defense, numerous key players were injured.)

We drafted our teams on Sunday, and the season started last night. I look forward to telling my cousin that she needs to get to the back of the line at Thanksgiving because her teams sucks, and she over-reached to draft LaMarcus Aldridge in the third round.

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