Confessions of a sentimental sports fan
Sports is hard. My experiences of playing on perennially losing teams since my youth can speak to this. Even after twenty-two years, my jump shot remains unreliable at best, which may be why I’m often picked close to last at Sunday rec games. So like many others, I’ve celebrated and lived out my basketball success vicariously through professionals who make it all appear much easier than it ever could be. Success has become quite a relative term for many Warriors fans though. For most of us who’ve been around since the basement dwelling days of yore, the forgettable seasons of nightmares past, the squadrons chockfull of your Bobby Suras, Adonal Foyles, and Mookie Blaylocks, the past half decade has been unimaginable. The younger version of me would find it incredulous that Larry O’Brien has found his way to Golden State not once, but twice in our lifetime — with the outlook of making this his permanent summer vacation home for many more years to come. With that being said, I’ll preface my following thoughts by acknowledging them to be “first-world” problems.
I say this, because no sports fan in their right mind should be able to find any semblance of disparity in winning. But “we be championship” would always represent the end for some of our players’ tenures in blue and gold. And even though we’ve been fortunate to only witness the exit of mostly fringe bench players, they affect me all the same. Maybe it’s because I am a fringe player myself — although in my case that means barely stepping foot onto a court. But I’ve always built a deeper attachment to the Mo’ Buckets and J. Holidays of the world. That sort of sentimentality took root in Ian Clark this past year, and continued to build throughout the wild and arduous season. While he never fully developed into the reliable 3pt threat we hoped he’d become, I’ll never forget the beautiful chemistry and plays that developed between him and David West through the journey’s end. In a microcosm, they encapsulated so much of what the Warriors system has come to represent. Player movement, beautiful passing. And on a personal level, Ian embodied so much of what the Warriors themselves are. Joyful, unselfish. About halfway through the season I started calling Ian by the nickname “Chuckles” because every time the cameras cut to him, he was always smiling or laughing. Always bearing a grin whether he was on the court or on the bench. This never wavered, even after Patrick McCaw surpassed him on the depth charts towards the tail-end of the season. For all the talk about team chemistry these days, I can say confidently that you need players like that to be able to thrive like the Warriors have.
Now I’ll admit this isn’t a statistically backed argument nor is it well researched. But in my purely-anecdotal opinion, Ian “Yaaan” Clark will be the most significant loss for the Golden State Warriors this offseason. I just think his absence will be felt if not amongst the fans, within the locker room. To this date, he still hasn’t found a home for the 2017–2018 season, which is lunacy considering he was a healthy contributor to a championship team. Averaging close to 7 PPG on 63 TS% throughout the playoffs isn’t a non-factor. Helping a team climb the highest mountaintop in this league should be worth something. But then again, sports is hard. And in some fashion, winning it all can be tough as well.
As of now, Clark signed with the New Orleans Pelicans. I’m glad a team saw him as an asset and I wish him all the best with his new squad. Except for when they plays us. Yeah, he can just go kick rocks then.