In basketball, as in life, there are times to be happy and times to be, eh, not so happy. Sometimes things are grand, and other times your life is tumbling along in a direction you do not enjoy — you’re in a job you don’t like, or a dead-end/contentious relationship, or you’re just crushed by a certain nagging day-to-day anxiety. It happens. And we’ve all been there.
Lucas Nogueira of the Toronto Raptors has been regarded as many things. He is energetic, and lively, and also very tall. His hair is tousled and teased in many different directions. He is, as you may already know, referred to as Bebe — owing to that delightful Brazilian nicknaming tradition that, for example, turns soccer players with four or fives names into guys known only as Kaka. But Bebe’s also had something of up-and-down NBA career, a time spent mostly not playing, or being in the D-League, or being injured. He knows about being happy and, well, all of the rest.
A couple of days before the Raptors’ final pre-season game, Bebe was in an expansive mood. This happens quite often; Nogueira’s candor is something to be appreciated. As a launching pad for Bringing Up Bebe, a space to discuss the happy/unhappy dichotomy of our collective lives, I can think of no better starting point then here. (With a huge thanks to Blake Murphy for eliciting this quote from the big man.)
Here's Lucas Nogueira on his positivity, how it's perceived, and why he always tries to smile. pic.twitter.com/5A2y1L6Qqo— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) October 17, 2016
Thus begins, at week one, Bringing Up Bebe.
As the subhead of this week’s debut entry suggests, there’s not a whole lot to report on here, basketball-wise. Owing to his appearance in last week’s pre-season game, Nogueira got eight minutes of (non-real) basketball action in and while he looked great, it was a short-lived run. Still, memories:
After a summer spent wondering if Bebe was ready to become the Raptors’ backup centre, a role that would require him to digest regular minutes on a night-by-night basis, the pre-season crystalized his role on the team. Toronto was ready to roll with Nogueira, which, if you’ve been following along, is reason enough to smile. The waiting game is almost over.
Likewise, on a personal happy note, after months of procrastinating, I managed to finish a long-ass writing project (a screenplay!) of which I’m proud. I mean, it needs a ton of work — no script is solid after the first draft — but the intent is there on my part to revisit, revise and improve. That’s what’s got me on the upswing this week. How you?
I was going to title this section Sad — as per the aformentioned Bebe quote — but thought it too direct. The followers of Bebe are not sad (we’re not!), we are just waylaid on the path back to happiness. Hence: not happy. It’s unfortunately not always golden in the land of Nogueira.
The starting point here is obvious: Bebe was rolling in the Raptors’ final pre-season game last Friday against the Wizards. He was active on both ends, had altered a couple of shots and then... ankle sprain. The dreams of playing in the home opener dashed. The Raptors won last night, behind a fearsome 32-point, 11-rebound Jonas Valanciunas game, and Bebe was on-hand to rejoice in that victory. But it is a decidedly not happy thing to not be able to play. There are high hopes for Friday’s game against the Cavaliers.
Speaking of the weekend, who’s got some Halloween costume ideas? Do people out there still care about such things? My usual run of ideas has come to an unexpected end — an inspired stretch that included Rorshach, Hal9000, Steve Zissou and the Dude as costumes. But now, I’m drawing a blank. Not good, not happy.
Level of High Level
For most of last season, Bebe leaned on the descriptor “high level” to explain the goodness of something. Bruno’s skills? High level. The Toronto fans? High level. The hopes of Bebe? High level.
For Bringing Up Bebe, I hope to assign some numeric value to this High Level assessment. Sometimes the scale will make sense, sometimes it won’t. And then we’ll open the floor to everyone else in the comments to provide their own thoughts — on Bebe, on the Raptors, and on life. This whole thing is a work in progress, but I’m hoping the result will be, you guessed it, high level.
High Level Result: 5 out of 10 — the NBA is back, but we’re all not quite at 100 percent. Here’s hoping for better things next week.