Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Attraction of Audacity

We love audacity. Love it. Of that I am convinced.

There are many different types of human behavior or accomplishment that fall under that heading, of course -- boldness, courage, outlandishness, novelty... even rudeness (when not directed toward us personally). But all of it fascinates and therefore attracts our attention, and often our approbation, too.

Think about it. Audacity is often attractive. It’s true in politics. It’s true in entertainment. It’s true in poker, too -- why else would we all have become so infatuated with such a long sequence of daring, intrepid players with “alligator blood”?

It’s true in sports as well.

I sat up late last night with a lot of you watching those two regular season-ending NBA games -- the one in which Golden State defeated Memphis to finish 73-9 and set a new standard for wins in a season behind Stephen Curry’s out-of-this-world shooting, and the other in which the L.A. Lakers came back to beat Utah behind Kobe Bryant’s jawdropping 60-point performance.

Both Curry and Bryant were utterly audacious, although in different ways.

Curry hit 10 three-pointers and in his usual effortless-seeming manner tallied 46 points in just three quarters before sitting the fourth. He also finished the season with 402 three-pointers, breaking his own record set last season of -- get this -- 286! That’s a Bob Beamonesque leap ahead. Outrageous!

Then there was Kobe, shooting 50 times last night (!), something he’d never done in 20 years in the league. In fact, no one has shot that many times in a game in 33 years. (Again, outrageous!) Sixteen of those shots came in the fourth quarter, during which he reached the 40-point plateau, then hit 50, then after hitting a go-ahead basket finished with 60 even, the most of any player this season.

Different degress of audacity -- Curry’s more smooth and masterly, Bryant’s kind of stubborn and ferocious. But similar in that in each case an individual played and performed in a way that completely transcended the idea of a team game. (Or “undermined,” I suppose some might say of Bryant’s unembarrassed and endorsed-by-all ball-hog-itude.)

Both were a lot of fun to follow, too, and almost impossible not to enjoy.

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