The NBA Finals have come to Orlando for the first time since 1995 and only the second time ever. The city is dressed in blue and white and Orlando, a city I often criticize, has rallied around a cause in ways I've never seen. What slightly irks me is that this surge of pride for its home team, the swarm of #12 jerseys littered across town, is just happening now. Where is this city during the lean years? Where were they when they won 21 games in '04? Were they wondering if the team would draft Emeka Okafor with the #1 pick instead of Dwight Howard?
The Magic are the only Orlando team in any of the major professional sports and sometimes I feel as if this city doesn't realize they exist. Maybe Orlando just isn't a sports city, but neither is Green Bay, who also has only one professional team, yet their city shuts down every Sunday during the fall and winter for their beloved Packers. Granted, that team has a tradition we don't have yet, but traditions start somewhere and ours should start here and start now.
However, as I said recently to a friend, I'll take this fair weather fandom as long as my team is winning. And to my next point, it illustrates how much sports has this ability to galvanize a city, a community, a family. There's a scene in City Slickers when Helen Slater's character asks Daniel Stern's about why he loves baseball so much. He says that even when he was 18 and couldn't communicate with his father, they could still talk about baseball. I'm not 18 and I can talk to my dad about a lot of things, but 9 times out of 10, the first thing we talk about when we meet is sports. It's part of the fabric of a relationship between a father and a son, or between friends, or among a community.
In my most immediate circle of friends, I'm really the only sports fan and I think they often wonder why I care so much about it. This is why. When people who having nothing in common, when a city that seems to have no actual direction can come together to support and rally around their local team, then it becomes bigger than the game itself. It may be fleeting--in fact it often is--but it's better than nothing.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I've been sick here for about a week and have yet to visit the brand new downtown Orlando theater, the Plaza Cinema Cafe. So far it seems as if the buzz has been mixed. My parents and sisters went and, while they liked it, weren't particularly blown away. I'm sure the less-than-stellar lineup didn't help.
I was able to sneak away to the Enzian to see the slightly redundantly-titled Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The documentary documents (see what I did there) the once-famous metal band whose name I'll spare you in reiterating and their attempts at a comeback. Anvil is essentially two men, it's guitarist and lead singer, Steve "Lips" Ludlow, and his drummer and oldest friend Robb Reiner. If, to my knowledge, he is of no relation to This is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner, this film is certainly a kindred spirit to that earlier mockumentary. But beyond the tongue-and-cheek tone to much of it, the film is carried by how earnestly and honestly Lips and Reiner approach their work and their friendship. It's difficult not to smile all through the movie and hope that these two crazy kids work it out.
This weekend I will attempt to finally visit the Plaza Cinema Cafe as well as see the premiere of the new Jim Jarmusch film, The Limits of Control, over at the Enzian.
Over the past week, I watched another altogether different documentary, Spike Lee's latest release on ESPN, Kobe Doin' Work. What separates this one from other sports docs, especially ones you often see on ESPN or other sports networks, is how focused and in-depth it is.
The smartest thing about the film is not that it just follows Kobe during one game day or that it gets unlimited access to the court and the lockers, but that Kobe himself provides a running commentary while we watch him doin' work. It's as enlightening a look into what a great athlete really does during a game as anything I've ever seen. And even as a die-hard basketball fan (and sports in general), I learned a great deal about him and the sport.
Too bad for his Lakers, my Magic are going to win the Finals!!!
(I'm watching Game 1 right now and already feel like I'm going to eat those words.)