|What's It All Mean|
To which color analyst Jeff van Gundy, in his usual role as Guy Who Knows Everything and has Higher Priorities Than You, said "Who cares?"
He wasn't trying to be disrespectful of what Thomas was going through, just that we shouldn't care about a game when such More Important Things were going on.
And, well, um, screw you, Jeff van Gundy.
We have no idea what's going through Thomas' mind during this time of grief. From watching him in tonight's tight Bulls-Celtics game, I suspect there was distraction during his bench minutes, but when he was on the floor, muscle memory took over. Chicago won behind a great fourth quarter from Jimmy Butler, and because Boston plays tight games all the time and so be it.
But what's really telling here is that in trying to be supportive, Van Gundy was as reductive and reactionary as anyone who wants to just tell Thomas to suck it up and play. Grief is personal, and private, and unique and unpredictable. It hits you in waves, sneaks up on you in odd moments, and isn't something you can really speak to if you aren't going through it.
Except, of course, when you are employed by ESPN, and are paid to speak about anything and everything, without regard to human decency or societal mores.
When you are employed by ESPN, you just go and go and go, with a hot take on everything, because that's what fits their terrible, terrible business model.
Here's what you should say about Thomas and his condition: as little as possible. Respect that the audience for Game is an audience for Game, and does not need, nor even appreciate, your efforts to make it about anything else.
We don't need you to tell us what's more important than all of that, really. We've made the choice to turn on the game, rather than go do yard work or parenting or emotional labor or cleaning or walking the dog or sleeping or any of the billion of other activities that we could be doing instead.
All of which might have more Meaning, because Meaning is where you find it.
And what you should be doing is to respect that choice, and COVER THE GODDAMNED GAME.
Because that is doing your job. You know, what Thomas did by playing today.
Honestly, why is this so hard for them to understand?