It occurs to me I happen to be living my life as if change was bad, though of course I know it usually is not. This wasnt planned; it just worked out that way. Grew up in the same house in Hollywood. Worked for the same company since back when carrier pigeons delivered the news. Married to the same wonderful woman all this time.
Even in sports, the two most important athletes in my life formed a 40-year linear timeline for me, and represented the opposite of change. These are things you never think about, until you think about them.
Carl Yastrzemski, whose 1967 Red Sox were my first love, spent his entire 23-year career with Boston. And the very year Yaz finally retired, as if an invisible baton were being passed, Dan Marino was a rookie setting out on a 17-year career spent only with the Dolphins.
These were the two athlete/icons who helped transport me from young childhood to middle age and didnt even know it. I appreciated the constancy of them. Like some sort of living security blanket, they were always there.
What they represented is becoming all but extinct in sports one athlete spending all his career with one team to the point Dwyane Wades 10 seasons (and counting) with the Heat would be remarkable to me even if they didnt happen to include stardom and three championships.
Heck, I even felt a small, wistful pang the other day in hearing Stephen Weiss had departed the Panthers after skating all 11 of his NHL seasons here. And I can count on one hand the times Weiss and I ever spoke.
I appreciate loyalty, is what Im getting to. Im nostalgic for it.
I also understand we must change how we define the word, because we have little choice. I once clack-clack-clacked on a manual typewriter, too. Times changed. We adjust. But evidently, a lot of fans are having a tough time with that.
Dwight Howard is being called disloyal and worse because he dared leave the Lakers for Houston in NBA free agency, and little could be sillier. Only Yankees fans have a higher regard for themselves than Lakers fans, and so the purple-and-gold side of Los Angeles cannot fathom that anyone would rather play elsewhere than with Kobe Bryant. But this was never about loyalty not after a mere one season that found Howard not only battling old injuries but drowning in the curdling dysfunction that surrounded him.
Yet critics came out with words sharpened, including Shaquille ONeal intimating that Howard was not up to a big-city spotlight, and Jeff Van Gundy concurring that Dwight needed a friendly media environment. Ice Cube, of all people, chimed in, eviscerating Howard onstage at a has-beens of rap concert in L.A. on Sunday.
Lakers fans went to social-media sites to show themselves angrily burning their Howard jerseys in effigy just what Cleveland fans did with LeBron James jerseys three years earlier.
The truth is, Howard not only had every right to leave but was wise to. The Lakers are old and yesterday, just like biggest-fan Jack Nicholson mummified behind the prop of his nighttime sunglasses. They arent even the best team in L.A. anymore. Howard found a better situation, brighter prospects moving forward, in Houston.
That Chris Paul chose to re-sign with the Clippers does not make him a better person than Howard, or even more loyal. Neither situation was about loyalty. Both were about pragmatism.