The Sports Niche
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The Sports Niche

Your Team Just Won a Title. Remember to Enjoy It.

Photo by Shaheen Karolia via Wikimedia Commons

With Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and their unlikely group of teammates pulling off one of the more unlikely title runs, the Raptors secured the first season since 2006 in which the NBA and NHL champions were first-time winners. And within minutes of the final buzzer going off and the celebrations kicking off, ESPN posted an article titled “Can any team possibly replicate what the Raptors just pulled off in the NBA Finals?” A similar article, titled “The St. Louis Blues’ path to repeating as Stanley Cup champions,” appeared on the same site the day before.

Now, I get it. I used to be part of the all sports, all the time ecosystem. I understand that ESPN needs to be constantly looking forward, that no one other than the fans of the teams cares to read gushing profiles about the winners. But it’s also part of the reason I left sports journalism, because it’s exhausting. It’s not the first story like this, and it won’t be the last, but it reminds me of the 2006 BCS National Championship. As the confetti fell around Vince Young, who had just led Texas over USC with a transcendental performance in one of the greatest games ever played, a reporter asked him if he would “be back [for his senior year] to try and make it two in a row?”

In this era obsessed with cracking the code of a winner and constant arguments over who the GOAT is, it can be easy to forget that the point of winning is to enjoy the victory. While every fan would like to root for the next version of Jordan’s Bulls or Gretzky’s Oilers or Brady’s Patriots, and ESPN would love all the talking points that would come with it, don’t hope for it. Don’t get so obsessed with the long-term legacy that you forget to enjoy the wins along the way.

The Blues’ futility was unique in that the team was rarely bad, but also rarely more than just good. Photo by David Herholz via Flickr.

St. Louis and Toronto have a lot to be happy about. The Blues are no longer most famous for exceptional mediocrity. The 25-year playoff streak that didn’t even result in a conference title, much less a Stanley Cup title, is a thing of the past. The 0–12 finals record may now be just 4–15, but that “4” comes with the most impressive hardware in North American sports. The Raptors, whose most famous player later became their most hated (they’re on better terms now) and who were previously known for losing to LeBron, bucked the conventional wisdom that it was time to rebuild. A franchise that had won five total playoff series since 1995 (four of them since 2015) won four in a row. A laughingstock both for their play on the court and a name that gets increasingly anachronistic, the team did what James Harden and Chris Paul and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook couldn’t do: beat Golden State. So what if Kawhi Leonard never plays another minute for Toronto?

It’s normal to want to look ahead, especially when the sports media is so quick to do so. The Anthony Davis trade certainly isn’t helping matters, and we’re already looking at the 10 decisions that will shape the NHL offseason. But for fans of Toronto and St. Louis:

Breathe. Celebrate. Enjoy this feeling, and remember it when next season starts. Remember it when things inevitably start to go downhill. It could be a long time until the next title, or it could be next year. But no matter how long it is, be grateful you got the one. There are more than 40 fanbases who can’t even say that.

I’m a freelance writer who’s accepted that the LA Kings are going to be bad again before they can even think about title number three. Follow me on Instagram @anthonyjondreau and reach me at anthonyrjondreau@gmail.com

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Anthony Jondreau

Anthony Jondreau

I use the basics of fiction writing to tell help people and companies tell their stories. Find me at www.anthonyjondreau.com or anthonyrjondreau@gmail.com.