Free the Warriors from Draymond Green, and nine other prayers for the sports gods in 2019
For years now, the Golden State Warriors have been more than just a good basketball team. I hate to be hyperbolic (note: I don't), but they are the purest distillation of the emotion we call "joy." Steph Curry is a manifestation of divine energy, Klay Thompson is human lightning, and Steve Kerr is galactic wisdom made flesh. The addition of Kevin Durant (the righteous rage of the cosmos, or something...I'm running empty on descriptions) brought the show to dizzying new heights, and the thrilling combination was the greatest pleasure to be had in the sports universe.
Still is, sometimes. But now, when I think about the Warriors, I'm forced to think first about Draymond f'ing Green. Who is Draymond Green? A decent, annoying, complementary puzzle piece who bears within his DNA the poison that will destroy this team. We saw flickers of it in the past—locker room fights, resentment that simmered and then abated, an idiotic suspension that probably cost the Warriors the 2016 title. Now, though, the poison is spilling over. He's the epitome of the upjumped egomaniac who doesn't know how good he has it, and can't stop himself from letting his petty grievances corrupt everyone around him. Worse, he kinda stinks this year, which, instead of giving him perspective, has only added fuel to the illogic of his bitterness. He's draining the magic, and he's too marginal to be allowed to continue.
Someday soon, if there's any justice, he'll be a diminishing role player on a bad team regretting that he didn't understand how good he had it—how there are many, many players who could look just as good as Draymond Green if they played for the Warriors. Until then, he's a toxic saboteur threatening to spoil something special, and today, one day away from the start of 2019, I would like beseech the sports gods to dispatch him elsewhere in the coming year. Free the Warriors from the scourge of Draymond!
Here are nine other prayers that I offer to the gods as we turn over the calendar...
Let an American man win a tennis grand slam
I know this is impossible. I know it's not going to happen. I know our greatest hope is Isner, who is really no hope at all. But my God, it's been 15 years! This is embarrassing and heartbreaking at the same time...how long can the nightmare go on? Need I remind you, sports gods, that before 2003 it had been 15 years since American men went even one year without a win? That the longest drought in the open era, since 1968, was four years, and that the second-longest drought was a single year? This is torture! This is ahistorical and cruel!
Let a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup
Take the frustration from the previous entry, and now imagine that tennis was America's national sport, raise the drought from 15 to 25 years, and pretend that the country that always won in your stead was a smug rival...like, I don't know, Iran. That's the situation with NHL hockey in Canada, where no team from northern soil has won since Montreal in 1993. This gets harder all the time, with fewer and fewer teams making their home above the border, but there are still seven Canadian teams in the league, and they've had five finalists in that span. At least, for the sake of all that is decent in sport, let them win one before the team from Las Vegas does.
Expand the college football playoff to eight teams
On Dec. 5, I "predicted" that Clemson and Alabama would meet for the national title game, and it was the easiest prediction anyone will ever make, ever. College football has simultaneously become boring and villainous, and its problems run deeper than the playoff format, but an adjustment to eight teams would make a huge difference. Some people, witnessing the bloodbaths of the semifinals this past Saturday, made the easy joke that if the no. 3 and no. 4 teams were blown out so thoroughly, how would eight teams help? But that's just it—the no. 3 and no. 4 teams weren't really the no. 3 and no. 4 teams. Georgia, at no. 5, nearly beat Alabama in the SEC Championship. Ohio State, Big Ten champions, were clearly miles better than Notre Dame. Those teams should have been allowed to destroy the Irish and Sooners in the quarterfinals, and it would have made the semifinals way, way better. Instead, we have Inevitability Bowl IV.
Let the Kansas City Chiefs win a Super Bowl
They're fun! The NFL needs fun! Failing this, I would submit this alternate prayer: "Let any team who isn't the New England Patriots win a Super Bowl."
End the curse of James Dolan
By now, it's resoundingly clear that the Knicks will never be good while their blundering weirdo failson of an owner still has the reins. This has gone on too long. I'm not asking for him to come to harm, but I do want the chorus of recrimination to become so loud and intolerable that he decides to give up the team for good...and not to anyone else named "Dolan," please.
Selfish Entry: Please let Duke, the Yankees, Aryna Sabalenka, Rory win the big ones
Yes, I root for evil teams by accident. Get over it. (And don't worry, the Yankees aren't winning—they haven't won a World Series with a Republican president since Eisenhower.) Also, I want it known that if it works out with Sabalenka, I called it.
Save college basketball from itself
We are dealing with a broken sport, and the fixes aren't mysterious: Fewer charges, fewer reviews, fewer timeouts, more defensive fouls to discourage "physical" (read: thuggish, Wisconsin-style) defense, shorter shot clock. Basically, make it the NBA in style, and either pay the players or kill the one-and-done while you're at it. And as long as we're wishing, destroy the NCAA.
In my mid-30s, I figure it's time to start having some old fogey opinions that make younger people think of me as a stodgy idiot. And let me tell you: eSports? It's people playing video games! It's dumb! You will never shake me off that hot take, and believe me, it's only going to get worse as I get older, and the time between the present and the last time I played a video game increases. And hell, I'll go a step further: Video games themselves are a scourge on society. Go to Reddit Relationships sometime—every thread is some poor woman who can't get her husband to acknowledge her existence because he's been playing World of Warcraft in a diaper for 56 straight hours on their honeymoon. Video games should be illegal.
Bring back American Gladiators
WHY. IS. THIS. STILL. NOT. ON. TV.