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Suspension Journal: When old basketball games aren’t enough

Trying to find reassurance in the things that usually bring us reassurance is tough these days.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

I have a pretty set idea of what a perfect summer weeknight looks like. It involves ordering in, plugging some combination of teams and a year into YouTube, and letting that old NBA on NBC theme blast out of the sound bar and fill the living room. Along with cooking and low light food pictures (guilty pleasure), I’ve always counted this as one of the most therapeutic things I can do for myself when stress or anxiety hits. Knowing the outcome of a game but forgetting details of how a game got to that point is something of a warm blanket — you know where the journey leads but you get to revisit certain things along the path.

Over the last three weeks, though, I’ve found it distressing that old basketball games can’t hold my attention like they used to — and it’s not for a lack of options. There’s nightly rewinds on the NBA YouTube channel, with the league emptying the archives of Gen Z favourites (including a nerdy, yet awesome high definition look at the mid-2000s).

Then, of course, there was the announcement that TSN and Sportsnet had listened to loud calls on social media and would play the Raptors 2019 playoff run nightly, in its entirety, through March and the beginning of April. This has been great on a few levels, even though we’re less than a year removed. I’m sure I’m not the only one enjoying the separation from the constant intensity of watching those games in the moment, where — embracing the worst habit of every Raptors fan — I always expected something bad to happen. Rewatching them is informative on remembering just how championship-ready that squad was, how different they were from other Raptors teams, and, yes, how that entire playoff run sat on many razor’s edges — many of which were transcended by Kawhi Leonard. (While this 2019-20 edition of the Raptors are more fun, it was still going to be those sticky offensive momentum spots in the playoffs that stood as their biggest hurdle. Kawhi jumped over a metric tonne of those.)

Even considering the sheer volume of games presented, though, the coronavirus has changed my ability to keep attention in one place.

While friends use their time working from home (or just being at home) to start new TV series, finish a book, or take up a new hobby while staying inside, I find myself doing one thing for an hour then focusing on something else. It’s been just doing enough to whittle the time away while trying not to read the news. There’s a certain fear of the unknown that comes with these things that I think we’re all feeling. We know that staying inside is doing our part to stop the spread, but the posts about packed grocery stores and parks, pickup games on blacktop, and filled beaches somewhere far from home brings on dread. There’s reassurance in doing your part, but is it enough to matter? Should we be angry or distressed, and how much of that should we let out?

Through these feelings, I’m setting small goals for myself and I encourage you to do the same. While doing my part and not going outside, I’m trying to get back to those therapeutic things on a daily basis — cooking something new, trying to write (look at me go!), and yes, watching an old basketball game with my phone safely out of reach.

These are times where putting on that warm blanket is endlessly reassuring — knowing exactly what the end looks like, especially when we can’t say the same for this virus’ place in our lives.