An Expert Weighs in on the Meaningless NBA

by Jared Wheeler 2 years ago in basketball

Should we give a crap about an NBA offseason that moves mercilessly toward inevitability (paging Mr. Durant)? The Unbalanced consulted the preeminent voice on meaninglessness.

An Expert Weighs in on the Meaningless NBA

I hate being happy so I recently watched the Emoji Movie with my wife and three children. Thirty years from now, when main character T.J. Miller reveals that the Emoji Movie was, in fact, a cleverly veiled attack on the American Tween’s loss of autonomy as a result of widespread digital addiction, I may appreciate this film.

During the recent viewing I texted my wife the eggplant emoji and giggled.

The main character of the movie is a “meh” emoji which is ironically the only apt emotional response one should have to the movie. The meh struck a chord with my feelings about the upcoming NBA season as well. As an NBA fan I should be thrilled by the ongoing offseason. Gordon Hayward to the Celtics! Jimmy Butler to the baby T-Wolves!! Paul George somehow finding his way to Oklahoma City!!! I should be enthralled. I should be counting down days. I should be doing the LeBron Challenge, or the Drive By Dunk Challenge or driving a Dodge Challenger.

*Holy Crap CP3 to the Rockets!!!


Meh because all roads lead to the Bay (which is a shit place for roads to lead FYI), Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, the suddenly “team-first” Kevin Durant, and anime star Steph Curry.

The previous season’s preordained narrative arc was tiresome but interesting. Would LeBron cement his legacy? Would Durant accept his role as the most high-powered mercenary? Would Draymond kick all the nuts? Would the Warriors exact revenge on the Cavs? Those questions were all answered (kinda. sure. no. yes.). There are some neat things brewing this offseason, but is NBA league pass worth “neat”? My wife would suggest it is not.

As the meh washed over me I felt as though I needed to consult a true expert of meh — Friedrich Nietzche. Nietzsche was a German philosopher during the late nineteenth century who espoused a philosophical position called “Nihilism”. One could, via massive oversimplification, call Nihilism the belief that nothing really “matters” (I know…I know…@ me). Meh. Nuanced and brilliant and gorgeous — but Meh none the less. Through the marvels of my imagination I was able to holler at Freddy Nee about the upcoming NBA season.

Me: Mr. Nietzsche, thank you so much for making time for me. Especially considering the fact that you’re, um, super dead.


Me: uhhh

FN: HAHAHAHAHA. Relax man. I’m dead. I know.

Me: Whew, okay. So I wanted to ask you about the NBA season and dealing with the meaninglessness I feel in response to it. Shouldn’t I care? Should I even watch or follow it if I don’t?

FN: So you came to me? The godfather of the shrug huh? Is that what you think I am? Is that all you’ve reduced my legacy to?

Me: Bro. Philosophy is long. There are so many dead white dudes. Expediency is our friend.

FN: HOW DARE YOU — no, no, no…I’m not going to get worked up…okay so why are you feeling so ambivalent about the NBA? Just because of the superteam thing and the Warriors?

Me: Whoa. You know about all that?

FN: Sure.

Me: How?

FN: I’m dead fam. Spooky ghost magic.

Me: Okay…yeah, what’s the point of following it? Isn’t the point of fandom-

FN: Man “fandom” is a dumb word

Me: …not all of us are syphilitic geniuses


Me: Yeah, so. I hate the idea that I would waste my time with something that can’t provide suspense. It would be like reading the last chapter of the book first.

FN: Yet you’re talking to a guy who died 117 years ago…Here’s the deal — Nihilism, the idea that culture’s great institutions or beliefs can’t really deliver what they promise, doesn’t suggest you just crap away the stuff you love. You need to relax.

Me: You said “God is dead”! I’m the one who needs to relax??!?

FN: Sure, I said that…but it wasn’t like I was thrilled by the idea. You should watch for the same reasons I wrote about religion and morality even though I didn’t believe in those things — because they still motivate people. Will Golden State win the title again? Almost definitely. Therefore the season is pointless — but it can still be compelling! Is Giannis gumby with a euro-step? Do the Sixers make a leap? Can the Wolves teach Andrew Wiggins to play defense in time to be playoff contenders? And what about LeBron? Is he the Superman I wrote about?

Me: Now that Kyrie is jumping ship…

FN: You should be thrilled by that! I mean if anything meant anything you should be. Kyrie is doing exactly what cry-babies like you want him to do. He’s abandoning the superteam format to blaze his own trail. He is trying to swim against the tide! Like all human enterprises he’s ultimately doomed to the slow, ponderous progress of doom. But hey — he’s trying!

Me: That is legit the most and least exciting thing I’ve ever heard.

FN: Shoutout Nihilism. Shoutout the NBA.

Jared Wheeler
Jared Wheeler
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Jared Wheeler

I teach philosophy, religious studies and communication at a small college. I am a dad and husband and spouter of multiple opinions. @jaredawheeler

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