It is 11:33 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 and I am so mad right now that I feel LIKE TYPING THE REST OF THIS POST IN ALL CAPS AND USING A LOT OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!
I very rarely get upset about anything these days but right now I am livid. Why, you may ask, would an otherwise level-headed, mature adult feel like throwing a temper tantrum like a 4-year-old who was just told that he cannot brush his teeth with ice cream before going to bed? Before I answer, let me back up almost eight years ago to the day.
It was the night of June 16th, 2000. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was a date which will live in infamy in the Normal Mormon Household for the rest of our marriage. You see, both my wife and I are a passionate Lakers fans. Although I grew up in Salt Lake City, I plastered my childhood bedroom with posters of Magic Johnson, Kareem, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis in his short shorts. (I still have nightmares about the Rambis poster. The word "pasty" does not even come close to describing the guy's thighs. Eeewwww.) As a kid I cried when the Lakers lost. Seriously. I cried.
As an adult, I'm not much better.
Okay, back to the day of infamy. The Lakers were playing the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals and were huge favorites to destroy the Pacers in that series. LA was already leading the series 3-1 and Game 5 was being played in Indiana. The NMW and I invited two of our friends who were also big Lakers fans over to our apartment to watch the Lakers close out the series and then celebrate the championship together. We never popped the celebratory Martinelli's (you gotta love those rip roarin' Provo celebrations) that night because the Lakers got destroyed 120-87. In the midst of the blowout, I completely lost it. At one point during the game I got so upset with the Lakers that I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated, tore it in half, yelled at the TV, and then threw the SI across the room. The other three people in the apartment looked at me with the same horrified expression that Ben from Lost had on his face when his daughter was shot. It was one of the single most embarrassing moments of my life and I still regret it today.
That night I made a vow to do a better job controlling my emotions when the Lakers lost. I had to make the same promise on the days that BYU's basketball or football teams would stink it up. Especially when the Coogs would lose to the U. of U. Shortly thereafter I read a life-changing General Conference talk called "Agency and Anger" by Elder Lynn G. Robbins which truly helped me to better understand anger and to hold myself accountable for it. If you or somebody you know has a tendency to "lose their temper", please read that article. It is outstanding.
Fast forward eight years.
Tonight, at this very moment, the Lakers are losing by 36 points to the Boston Celtics in what will be the last game of the 2008 NBA Finals. Kobe & Co. are getting destroyed and have been completely outplayed and out coached in every aspect of this series. While I am no longer ripping up magazines, I still have a very hard time controlling my emotions when the Lakers play this badly. LA blew a 24-point lead in Game 4 and went on to lose. They then choked a 19-point lead in Game 5 and had to rally late to eek out an ugly win against an injury-plagued Celtics team. Tonight, the Lakers didn't even show up.
The sad thing is that I have hardly been able to enjoy any of this great Lakers playoff run. I get so disgusted if the Lakers are ever down by seven points or if they allow the other team to go on a 13-4 run that I have to turn off the TV and go in the other room. I can't even watch. If the Lakers ever win in a dramatic comeback I will have to read about it the next day on ESPN.com because I cannot stomach to watch them lose. I wish that I could just tune out the emotion and simply watch my favorite team play in the NBA Finals and take some enjoyment out of the fact that they are Western Conference champions and had a great season. But instead of joy, there is only frustration. Instead of satisfaction for winning the West, there is only disappointment that LA did not win the title. I get so upset so quickly that I think I know what Dr. David Banner must feel inside when Hulk starts to emerge, his clothes start shredding, and his body turns green.
Of all the teams in the NBA that the Lakers could lose to, the Celtics should be the easiest one for me to handle. Heck, I should even be happy for Boston. Kevin Garnett has always been one of my favorite players in the league. I absolute love Ray Allen's textbook jumpshot. Paul Pierce is a warrior. Danny Ainge, a BYU guy, is the General Manager and assembled the current Celtics roster. There are no spouse abuse issues, drug problems, or 3:00 a.m. handgun incidents to make me dislike this Celtics team. Even with these additional facts, it is still hard for me to suppress those raw, primal emotions from surfacing knowing the Lakers will lose tonight.
Am I alone in this? Not just about the Lakers or BYU, but about sports teams in general. I would really like to hear from you sports fans out there (and those of you who are married to passionate sports fans as well) to see how you react when your team loses. Please complete the poll on the right-hand column and leave some comments to explain how you generally react. I firmly believe that watching your team lose can bring out the ugly side in otherwise normal, mild-mannered men more than anything else in life. Am I right? Let me know.
I just checked ESPN.com and the Lakers ended up losing tonight by 39.
DOES ANYBODY HAVE A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
***MY COMMENTS TO YOUR COMMENTS***
-The Normal Mormon Wife - Thank you for recognizing the ways in which I have mastered my temper over the years, sweet heart. While I have never had serious anger issues, it's good to see that you have noticed some progress. I still don't understand why I cannot control my emotions when the Lakers or BYU lose, either. I try so hard to keep it in perspective, but I still have a lot of work to do in that area. And hey, I love you too. Sorry for making you watch the blowouts by yourself.
-Bioman75 - I think every LDS NBA fan can relate with your, "Well I guess I get more sleep and I can stop breaking the sabbath" comment. Classic!
-Natalie - Umm....It looks like I should have added a sixth category to the poll that said, "Homicidal: People rooting for the other team may end up on the next episode of CSI." I can only imagine how difficult it must be when your dad is the head coach at a major program like UNC and you have a personal relationship with the players. After seeing the feisty side of you emerge, I'm just incredibly relieved that you coached our YW basketball team to the Stake title. I wonder what would have happened to the players/fans of the opposing ward that would have beat us...
-Danny Ainge - You decided to post "Ha ha ha...Lakers suck!" all over my blog. Well guess what? I know who you are. I know where you live. I know the code to your home security system. And I am going to tell Natalie that you have been badmouthing UNC women's soccer. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Have you ever seen "When a Stranger Calls"? Child's play, my friend. Child's play.
-Andymann - You said that one of your best friends is one of the biggest Lakers fans in Phoenix and that, "he has now gone into hiding and cannot be found today." Don't worry too much about him, he didn't do anything drastic. Your friend has been on conference calls with me and the 102 members of my "Loyal Lakers League" devising ways to steal the identity of the commenter known as Danny Ainge so that we can ruin his credit and register him as a communist with his elections board. Good times.
-Jon-Michael - No need to apologize for being on your soapbox. It sounds like you are one of the lucky ones who was able to go from an "insane" to a "reasonable" sports fan. I envy you for being able to do that. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot turn the emotions off. For example, my wife and I do not have cable TV so I had only watched one or two Lakers game before the playoffs started. When the playoffs began, I tried to convince myself to just watch the Lakers play and have fun. Afterall, I had invested absolutely nothing into the team this year. But as soon as I started watching the games and saw the Lakers' weak rebounding, Kobe's forced shots, Phil's refusal to call timeouts or pressure the ball, and listened to Boston crowd go nuts after a big 3, etc., I just got too upset. Being a passionate, emotional Lakers fan is like being in the mafia: As soon as I think I'm out...they suck me right back in!