The reality of the Game.
I know that I am not the only person who felt bad when the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the NBA finals. I did not feel bad because I am a Laker fan (Good god, no). I felt bad because Karl Malone and Gary Payton were denied, yet again, a Championship ring.
I was pleading my case to the NBA Gods: how can two future hall of fame players remain ring-less while Stanislav Medvedenko and Mengke Bateer get the girls with their jewelry? There has to be some sort of justice, right? The answer is No. The NBA is just like life: there are winners and losers. This is especially defined in the sports environment, where the rules declare that there has to be a winner and loser. There is no such thing as a “tie” business, like hockey or soccer.
I believe that the North American society and culture seeks to find definite results in their sports. We live our everyday lives dealing with shades of grey: are we doing well at work? Does that girl like me? Am I eating healthy? We always get stuck with “maybe”. This is why it is refreshing to go home and watch something definite and final. Final in the sense that we sleep better at night when we know that something is agreed to be true: the Pistons won. Our need for final rulings is also evident in the way we treat the referees: these guys hardly get overruled. Even when it is an obvious blown call, we all stick to the ruling. We may not like it, but the call usually stands.
This is where Malone and Payton step in. These two guys will probably retire without a championship. While this maybe a crying shame, their roles as perennial losers reinforce basketball’s reflection of Life in general: there will always be victims. The league cannot just give championships to people “who were really good”. Playing in the league for 20+ years does not guarantee you anything except bad knees. Just like how not everyone can be in the Hall of Fame, not everyone can win the championship. Unfortunately, that’s just life.