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Sunday, December 6, 2009
Sherman Alexie on loss, and Greg Oden


By Henry Abbott

All day I've been thinking: At some point, somebody will hit on the right perspective, to shine a little light on this Greg Oden story.

More than anything, I just feel like that young man has had to deal with too much. I know he's a millionaire and we should all be so lucky, but seriously, he defines himself by his ability to play a game, and he's really good at it, but a really young age he has had some strong messages that his body just doesn't want to go along for the ride.

Just about everyone who has a  major injury like that wrestles with gloominess and depression. Imagine if your entire profession was on the line.

Anyway, chin up, young man. I'll try to think of a more inspiring message soon.

As for us Blazer fans, well, we have nothing to complain about, by comparison.

Writer Sherman Alexie, noted Seattle SuperSonics fan, explains:

I've been working on a poem about how, even after six years, it feels like my late father is still dying, that he dies for me every day. It's how grief works, I guess.

In this poem, I also liken it to the every day death of the Sonics. I feel their loss constantly. And then, seeing that Oden is down for the season (and likely done as an everyday player for good), I first thought, "Well, I'm glad I don't have to feel the kind of pain that Blazers fans are feeling today. I don't have to feel the pain of every Sonics loss or injury anymore."

But then, I thought, no, I miss the losses as much as the victories. I miss the pain as much as the joy. I miss the losing streaks as much as I miss the wins. Hell, I miss Luke Ridnour. And so, I think, my grief for my father -- my ever-present grief -- is so important because he never goes away. I don't forget him. I keep him alive that way. And so, I think, my grief for my Sonics -- my ever-present grief -- is so important because they never go away. I keep the team alive that way.

Ah, my father, the Sonics, basketball in general, all intertwined. So, I guess, if I could console Blazers fans, I would tell them their Oden-grief is valuable, that it is about hope and love, that it is about keeping memory -- their love for basketball -- alive.