Game Notes: Perception vs. Reality

by March 07, 2008

By Jake Appleman

“You make the music selfishly. Then you put it out there and hope that it connects with the people. The third part is going out and performing it – that’s the part I love.” – Minority owner, Brooklyn Nets.

People occasionally send me emails asking how to get down with SLAM and the like, perhaps forgetting that I’m a freelancer that holds very little actual power. After the Cavs-Knicks game Wednesday night, Russ and I spent a while talking about a bunch of Appleson related topics. It was one of those awesome conversations that makes you feel alive because both of us knew how much we cared about what we do. Russ made an incredibly astute point: despite the fact that we practice an incredibly free-wheeling style of reporting/writing/blogging we are professionals when it comes to what we do; Russ because he ran the basketball bible for over half a decade and talking NBA is akin to breathing for the dude, and me because have two major addictions: writing and basketball.

(Footnote: my whole day and night was one of those periods of time that can remind a person of how amazing life can be: after receiving a totally unexpected and awesome call from Ben, I watched Real Madrid play Roma–I kind of hate both teams, so it was win-win–and then we went to the Garden and watched the King go off for 50. That combined with the first signs of spring being sprung, and it just proved to be a fantastic day all-around.)

Back to what I’m getting at: We interact with you guys and show you love on these web pages because SLAM is Love–it always has been and it always will be. Part of what I think makes Appleson special is that Russ and I are both old souls, and we both just really wanna do what we love to do. We’re sensitive to things going on around us and, despite occasional ridiculousness, we’re both very perceptive. More to the point, we want you to see what we see because SLAM is love and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t feel the same way. (By the way, did I mention that Slam is love? Word is bound.)

I’ve written a few pieces lately and they’ve pleased the commenting masses here to a very high degree. I appreciate the love, but I feel like I need to make something clear because a lot of people who could become writers read this website, a website that features a ridiculous arsenal of talented, versatile scribes. Everyone has their own process, but for me, this sh*t doesn’t just happen. I work my freaking a$$ off because I love basketball, and because, if you’re reading, I respect you, too. And I don’t work hard because I necessarily want to; it’s because there’s no other way for me. For what it’s worth, I’d probably much rather sit back with my girl in my lap and a beer in my hand while yelling at my television for not being interesting enough.

(Footnote: It irks me to think that there could be a potential person(s) out there that has his or her own voice that reads this–or anyone else on this or other sites–and thinks, “oh, well, I could never do it like that,” so why try?” I’m not some a-hole that sits here and spits word vomit onto a computer screen that more often than not people seem to enjoy. It doesn’t work like that.)

“This Applesauce is / from the Apple orchard.” – Minority owner, Brooklyn Nets.

When I was in first grade, my teacher–who would later get fired for making students give her foot rubs–nicknamed me, “The Absent Minded Professor.” The light bulb was on, and it saw things in a different, unique way, but the details were usually off. Was it ADD? Was it that I just zoomed too fast through my work so I could go outside and be uber-competitive in whatever sport was the being played at recess? I don’t know–how bout a little of both?

The truth of the matter is that I never wanted to be a writer. My dad was a writer and I wanted to do my own thing. It just sort of caught me (conduit, mentor, believer, purveyor of sarcasm and friend: Ryan Jones), like some sort of enjoyable disease or addiction that I had no defense against. Anyway, I was a terrible, if promising, scribe growing up whose work was corroded with typos and poor thinking, in part because I just didn’t care all that much.

(Footnote: They didn’t call me “Apple Turnover” on my high school basketball team for nothing…)

It wasn’t until I had to craft my college essay that I realized writing truly was a craft. “Writing is re-writing.” This guy I know pretty well had that quote taped to his computer screen like some sort of massive barnacle of truth enjoying a whale.
The thing about this blog, besides the fact that it’s somewhat personal is that I can’t post anything without obsessively going over it, minimum five or six times–and I still get shit wrong. A lot. Anything I rush will immediately get reamed for screwing something up. It’s happened before and I hope I’ve fully learned my lesson. So, I guess, at heart, maybe I’m not a blogger, even though I have a blog that let’s me speak in the first person.

Thing is, I’ve learned to self-edit–I never said censor–myself through incredibly hard work. Honestly, I feel like my approach to words is like Kobe’s approach to basketball in that it’s dogged and seemingly interminable. There’s a huge difference, though. As Russ correctly asserted last night, Kobe’s working his a$$ off to be the best basketball player on the planet–a title he shares with LBJ; like Russ says, get over yourselves, people, and respect that they’re both brilliant…just leave it the f–k be. Unless you want a migraine.

Unlike Kobe, I’m not trying to be the best. That’s stupid. Relentless egos strokes as building blocks, though enjoyable, are for p*ssies. There is no *best* in a craft that’s, ultimately, completely subjective. Really, I’m just trying to make sure I don’t fail. If being the best is the only acceptable (psychotic?) way Kobe can believe he hasn’t failed, maybe we share something: a fear of failure that serves as motivation.

An apple(sauce) and a (mamba) snake. We do theoretically come from the same garden.

(Footnote: I’m *Kobe/Jack Bauer/shotclock* years old. The fact that I’m dispensing what could be construed as advice is patently absurd. I can’t believe I just wrote this. I’m going to go word vomit all over myself and then edit it 24 times (self-imposed punishment). Not even Bob Saget, back when he played the wholesome Danny Tanner on Full House, chewed that thoroughly.)