Playoff Experience Enlightens Pacers Rookie Orlando Johnson to Low Bar of Greatness at UCSB

Magic vs. PacersI recall my tenure as a Gaucho with the retrospective fondness of a virile man married too young—he gazes backward at the freedom of his past conquests, while I gaze ruefully backward at my freedom to take jump shots.

I am Orlando Johnson—The Innocent OJ, His Imperial Juiciness, The Most Relevant UCSB Alumnus since Folk-Pop Singer-Songwriter Sensation Jack Johnson—and I have swallowed the bitter pill of disappointment.

Having earned the honor of Big West Player of the Year and having led my fellow Gauchos to two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, I was drafted into the NBA by the Sacramento Kings and traded immediately to the Indiana Pacers. At the time, this appeared to be the realization of a grand dream.

After leaving the sunlit shores and green hills of Santa Barbara for the industrial wasteland of Indianapolis, I received news from the Pacers organization that I would start my professional career with the Development League’s own Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Commenting in any way on Fort Wayne or on its name and mascot would be entirely superfluous. I ascended to the Pacers’ active line up.

You may have seen me on television recently, since my team was recently booted from the playoffs by the tenacious Miami Heat—or you may not have seen me, since I averaged two minutes of playtime per game. I hoped that the talents with which I carried the Gauchos would be invaluable to the NBA, but in a league lousy with backcourt specialists, many of whom are far more agile than I, my presence is akin to that of erroneous chorus member under basketball’s great proscenium.

Rubbing up against Lebron James during my minimal playtime has been both an awe-inspiring and emasculating experience. I cannot deny my boyish admiration for his skills, and yet to do so acknowledges my own lack of them. Here is a man without a college diploma breaking the heart of a boy who clings to his own; a man who amassed over 10,000 career points and one MVP award by the time I sat for my last university exam. The standard for greatness at UCSB has proven a farce in the great ocean of athleticism that is the NBA.

To where have my university days flown? How, dear reader, might I return to my time as UCSB’s only academically engaged sociology major? For truth be told, therein lies my deepest passion: sociology. I long to read again the merits of agent-based modeling.

But I digress. I have not returned to you to bemoan my misfortunes, but rather to deliver a message from spheres not reachable by bike path. That message, dear confidante, is this: life after graduation from UCSB is even worse than you’ve imagined. Congratulations, Class of 2013. At least you won’t get drafted.

Advertisements