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15,000 Words

Last week, as part of his semi-regular Mailbag feature, Bill Simmons, the ESPN Sports Guy invited SuperSonics fans to write in, to vent, to scream, and to generally raise hell about the NBA's seemingly inevitable move away from the Emerald City. The result was the longest piece to ever run under Simmons' byline. The final product was 15,000 words, 15,000 words of heartache and rage, opened by Roger Angell's classic summing up of what it means to be a fan:

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

Simmmon's piece is a worthwhile read. Angry, aching, often ridiculous and always heartfelt.


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