It's 9:47 PM on New Years Eve.
OMFG, right? The biggest party day of the year is even bigger this year because so many people are optimistic about next year. Count me among the optimistic and among those with a penchant for turning nights like this into the "Superbad" variety.
Last year? Last year I was in Reno. 'Nuff said. The year before? The year before I was in San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, and Seattle. All places that I've kicked off the following year with a countdown the previous night.
This year, right now, it's currently just me and my Macbook. Pro, of course. Still, it's popped open and I can feel my eyes turning red as I stare at the screen. Not only am I exhausted from a losing effort on the court earlier, but I can feel my hype dwindling as I realize that my prospects of doing anything but staring at my computer screen are dwindling even faster. I guess I never imagined that I'd spend a New Years Eve in Wonju, South Korea.
I would call someone, but it's not even 5 am in California, and everyone's getting the proper sleep to celebrate on unprecedented levels when the time comes. That time is 17 hours from now, my time. Texting? Out of the question. My Korean cell has the original numbered keypad that I forgot how to use the minute I got my Nokia N-Gage eight years ago. Besides, everyones sleeping.
I know what I'll do.
I pick up the phone and call my teammate, Victor Thomas.
"Yo, Rod. What you want?"
He's a jerk, but not really.
"I hate to admit this, but it's kinda lonesome up here. Wanna do something?"
I really do hate to admit it. I can feel the jokes being told about this from the future already.
"No man. It's just me and my wine. Sorry, Bence."
He calls me "Bence" because my Korean coach does. It doesn't bother me. Jasper Johnson's coach calls him "Johnce." It does bother me that I'm alone.
Back to the computer, I guess.
It's 10:20 PM on New Years Eve.
Cool story, bro. I keep refreshing Facebook just in case Google Chrome is malfunctioning and there are people who want to talk to me. It isn't. There aren't.
I decide to visit the team website to look at pictures from the game. Despite the fact that I absolutely purified a 7-foot-3 Korean in the waters of lake Boom Tho earlier, there aren't any pictures of it. Coddamnit, now I'm angry. It was bad enough that we lost and fell out of first place in the KBL standings, but to calm myself down, I imagined myself clicking on a picture of a sea of Korean hands down below, and mine soaring above like a majestic translucent steed, ball in hand, thrown it down. Instead, there are pictures of the same guy punking me for three straight offensive rebounds that were crucial to the game.
And I'm supposed to be the rebounder.
I have no choice at this point but to start blasting Kanye West's The Blame Game as loudly as a 17-inch MacBook will play it (which is actually kind of annoyingly loud), lean back and reflect on my past year over a bowl of rice.
For some reason, the song reminds me of a love song between myself and the NBA.
"On the bathroom wall I wrote I'd rather argue with you than to be with someone else / I took a piss and dismiss it like %#^%^$ then I went and found somebody else"
It seemed like we were destined for one another, but in 2010 I had to make the move and take my talents to South... Korea. The more time I spend here, the more I think about the reasons why I'm not there. The simple answer is that I'm not good enough, but it's not so cut and dry as that. Still, if I could pull a Derrick Rose, to myself, then Blake Griffin on a team of Al Jeffersons, I wouldn't just be in, I'd be the man. But let's be honest, I'm just a slightly too skinny, misunderstood San Diegan (SD gets little respect in the ball "tough" factor), who spent most of his career in the D-League (the D-League gets just slightly more respect that San Diego). This was always an uphill fight and it didn't help that, by blogging, I was fighting against myself.
"But I love to play the blame game…"
Blame the blog. Blame the GM's. Blame the coaches. Blame the D-League. Blame everyone but myself. It's clearer now on NYE than ever before.
I'm having a great season right now. Seriously, I'm doing things athletically that I've never done before. But why wasn't this the case before? Because I spent my time blaming other things for my misfortune instead of doing what I'm doing now. Now I'm staying in instead of going out. I'm watching film. I'm lifting weights aggressively. I lost a little weight, even though I'm skinny, but now I don't have to wear knee braces at all anymore, instead of the two I wore this summer that had Marqus Blakely say to me, "So your knees are just done? Already?"
Umm, no. 25 year old knees aren't done by any means. But I can see how it could look that way. In the Korean League, nobody questions the strength of my knees, because chances are that the only time they see 'em is when they're taking knee caps to the face as I fly to the rim. In a league full of athletic players, I'm one of the most active, have the most dunks (by far), and literally posterize someone on a nightly basis. It turns out that being forced into a situation where I had to take care of myself or get sent home has brought out abilities that I didn't know I possessed. Abilities that just may have gotten me into the league.
"I can't love you this much…"
Man, this song is like 10 coddamn minutes long.
Truth of the matter is now I'm torn between making all the money there is to be made in the world, especially given my increased skills, or going back and trying it again. Let's face it, with no one else to blame and no excuses to make, the only outcome from a failing performance would be heartbreak.
Damn, I hate heartbreak.
It's 11:54 PM on New Years Eve.
Wow, did I just spend an hour listening to "The Blame Game?"
I decide to change the track to Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness."
Reflecting on the bad, I come to the good. I'm not going to drink the Kool-Aid that my blogging kept me out of the NBA. In fact, if anything, blogging made me realize an entire set of skills (skills that make me a nightmare for people like you) that I never knew I had. For that I'm thankful, and unapologetic. And my future thanks me more for discovering such skills, rather than only a mid-range jumper. Not getting into the NBA was the best thing that ever happened to me, because now I have so much more than I would have otherwise.
It's 12:08 AM on January, 1, 2011.
Did I seriously just miss the countdown?
I have a lot to look forward to in the new year. Ill be trying to win my third championship since becoming a pro basketball player. I'll be wasting every witty thought I ever have in an effort to get more followers on Twitter. I'll be spending downtime working on my clothing company and managing two blogs (hardly work at all). And I'll be out and about in Wonju, South Korea, where just the other day a girl told me she'd never seen a black person before. She also said I had "handsome" lips. Go figure.
2011 will be the year where my goals achieved will be the direct result of the work I put in and the professionalism I apply to achieve them. 2011 will be the year of blaming no one but myself, and therefore taking solace in the fact that I tried my best. 2011 is gonna be more Boom Tho and less Gloomtho than ever before.
That said, I'm gonna listen to "The Blame Game" again.
"Yeezy taught you well. Yeezy taught you well…"
* Note: Since writing this I have uncovered video of the NYE dunk.