One of my favorite blogs, FreeDarko, is coming to end. Ironically it is ending in the same year that Darko has finally been set free in Minnesota, under the tutelage of none other than the unofficial HJ sports mascot coach Kurt Rambis. The sound you hear is two worlds colliding.
While those involved with FreeDarko will continue to write elsewhere, I still feel a twinge of sadness that FreeDarko as I knew is over. Because of what it has meant to me and how it has changed my relationship with sports.
One of the main tenants of the FreeDarko blog is the idea of “Liberated Fandom” which is the idea that, not only is it possible to enjoy the NBA without forming an allegiance to a single team, its actually a preferable existence.
You can form allegiances to individual players and coaches rather than living and dying with each loss. You just enjoy the ride. You watch the growth of players like Derick Rose with awe rather than frustration as he rips apart Rajon Rondo. You can enjoy Miami Heat games as a spectacle of a collection of talents not before seen in the NBA, rather than hoping for them to lose in bit of schadenfreude.
Its an interesting idea and something that really took hold of me. Why should I watch a collection of players that frustrate me? Just because I happened to grow up in a certain area or have childhood memory of something that was great a long time ago?
That’s not very logical. That’s not smart. What it is is a form a self flagellation that I no longer wanted part of.
The freedom from the lack of an affiliation means no season is a lost cause. If the Celtics only win 20 games, so be it. It is not a lost season if I still get enjoy the talents of the various other stars in the league.
Something interesting, or as the league’s marketing department would prefer “amazing”, happens. Shedding the shackles of a monogamist relationship with teams allows you to the see the league on a wider level. Instead of an intense (and often intensely flawed) knowledge of the Celtics I can say that I have a moderately solid understanding of mostly every team in the league.
But boiling down Freedarko to just this one idea does a disservice to them.
The writing was frequently funny, usually insightful, and always thought provoking.
Not to mention the art. Their NBA inspired art is original and fun. I wish I had money to blow and frame a large print of Charles Barkley as a blimp-like figure over the sport.
I don’t think I’m doing a good job of articulating how important FreeDarko ended up being to my view of sports. But it allowed me a freedom to let my freak flag fly and develop my own tastes and opinions on players without the distortion of viewing the world through green lenses that give me Tommy Heinsohn vision.
When I think of being a sports hipster I think of FreeDarko. I mean that in the most positive way possible. There was no writing in sports that’s as hip, artistic, creative or philosophically thought provoking as the works of Bethlehem Shoals and the boys of FreeDarko.
FreeDarko has two books, The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac and The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History.
If you have an open mind and like basketball they are a must read.