Archive for February, 2011
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Basketball Coaching Nonsense, Existential Rambings on February 27, 2011
The presumption that we can understand the universe seems to be the single most absurd belief that human beings have formulated. Part of the problem with the question seems to hinge on how the word “understand” is interpreted. For the purposes of this article I will be using the word in a similar way that Robert Heinlein uses the word “grok” in his book Stranger in a Strange Land. To grok something is to comprehend something with all of one’s being. I can understand that human beings have 10 fingers, but I grok what it means to have and be able to use those fingers myself. They are a part of me and I know them to be incontrovertibly true. I understand my fingers in a pre-verbal, visceral way that can’t and doesn’t need to be explained. When someone watches a game of basketball they may understand that the goal is to put the ball in the hoop or that they have to dribble when moving or the fact that there are two sets of five different players on the court, etc. If you asked a person who knew this whether they understand the game, they would probably say “yes”. However, they certainly do not grok the game in its fullness. They do not know what its like to make an impossible shot or look up at an official for a brief second with the anticipation of a charge or blocking foul or to dive on the floor for a loose ball or any of the millions of possible experiences that could exist in a basketball game. They may hear the words but they don’t feel the music.
This problem of “understanding” relates to how our culture and many others tend to interpret the EVERYTHING. Often, humans are given two choices as if they reflected the only possible paths to groking the EVERYTHING in its fullness. We get a choice of science/reason/rational thinking or faith/spirituality/belief. I find neither of these answers to be helpful. Science has brought us many creations and understandings over the years. Scientists have given language to experiences like gravity. This language has allowed us to change how we perceive life. Without these understandings, many of the wonderful things that exist in our world (everything from flight to the internet) would not exist. Reason has brought us to heights never dreamed of by our forefathers. It has also brought us terrors never before imagined (germ warfare, nuclear annihilation). For my purposes, neither of these points is relevant to the question. Science has brought us to a place where we never believed we could be and the power of its creation has made us think that its potential for discovery is as infinite. I believe that science has limits. Heinlein gets the limits of science perfectly when Valentine Michael Smith (the protagonist in Stranger in a Strange Land) asks “How can you grok a desert by counting its grains of sand?” Science can create marvelous tools to manage parts of the physical world, but to grok it in its fullness there seems to be a need for something more. The explanation that love or joy or sorrow are nothing more than a few synapses firing in different directions seems woefully inadequate to explain us, let alone the interplay of billions of sentient creatures. There must be more.
But is that “something more” a belief in something beyond our understanding (a higher power?). Many people believe that God is an all-powerful; omniscient being that controls the universe. But if God is all-powerful and omniscient how could flawed, miniscule beings ever expect to understand anything about this God? How can we possibly grok something that is admittedly beyond our understanding? The idea itself seems bizarre. People often chalk up experiences to being “part of God’s great plan”. But, if we don’t completely understand what God’s plan for us is how can we possibly understand that an action is part of the plan? Why do those of faith assume that there is a greater reason for the things they do not understand? Maybe there is and maybe they are right but how would they know? We are given a scant few highly conflicting religious texts. Can it really be assumed that everything a person needs to know about the universe can be summed up in the Bible or another religious text? Many people believe this. I think the mistake in this is to assume that this thing can be understood using a book. One book, millions of books, cannot sum the EVERYTHING up. It is still greater than the whole of human knowledge, let alone the contents of one book. Belief often seems to function as a great off switch in the mind. We see something so beautiful or horrible or absurd that the mind says “Uncle!” and we give ourselves over to a belief that there must be some meaning to it that we are missing. But, how do we know that anything actually has a meaning? We can hope, we can wish, we can pray, but we can never know. We just chalk it up to an act of God or the workings of spirits that we can never conclusively prove to anyone including ourselves.
What troubles me about faith is not its deferment to a higher power but its willingness to concede truths to those who have come before or us or to books written before our time. Sometimes I wonder if the worship of God is merely the worship of the past. Maybe we are just harkening back to an illusory time where a more pious people than ourselves who knew more than us were able to connect with some great force in the sky and reveal its truths. Some religious folks look back to Moses or Jesus or Mohammad or a cast of many other characters and assume that they knew enough not only to understand their world but also to understand ours. I have a hard time believing that any person can possibly understand the world they are thrust into. The thought that a person who walked the earth 2000 years ago can not only understand his world but also understand mine seems highly unlikely. What if they are right? It doesn’t really matter because I can NEVER know for certain.
The “central” question faced by human beings is not spiritual or scientific but epistemological. How can we ever really know what we know or that we even know it? We are given limited and barbaric tools, our senses, in which to meet the world. These senses are easily fooled and can be manipulated by inside or outside forces. Yet I can’t even say for certain that anything is an illusion. If I spent a hundred lifetimes, I don’t know if I could grok in fullness the experiences that take place in one moment in one American town. And yet, somehow, humans feel it possible to understand the wholeness of everything. Science and religion fail to give the correct answer because they are asking the wrong question. The question is often posed as “How can we understand the universe?” (….and we get to choose between spirit and reason or some hybrid of both). The question should be “Can we understand the universe?” I simply don’t know that we are capable of this understanding. If we are capable of this feat of comprehension I don’t know that we can ever, for certain, know that we are capable of it. How would we know? What is our point of reference? How would we ever no for sure that our beliefs are not based on illusions or misinterpretations? We don’t know for certain and, yet, so many of our institutions, be they religious or secular, function on the belief that we know for certain how things are going to work out if we take certain actions or do things a special way. This belief pervades our churches, our hospitals, our schools and our homes. Our value judgments, our morality and our understandings are constantly shaded with the haughty taint of false understanding. Really, we know next to nothing. Maybe the only thing it is possible for us to completely understand about the universe is that we don’t understand the universe.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Mr. Spillett's Academy Of Film Study For The Mentally Tormented on February 23, 2011
James Isaac’s classic 2001 film Jason X proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that horror films can be about much more than blood and guts. Instead of plodding down the well-worn path of past slasher films, Isaac takes the series in a bold and beautiful direction. In Jason X, Jason Voorhees discovers that there is more to life than simply killing frightened co-eds with chainsaw. He has tired of a life of senseless murder and finally finds inner peace. Jason X is the redemptive tale of Jason’s conversion to Islam and the strange course it sets his life on.
The film begins with Jason’s arrest and capture for the murder of 827 people at Camp Crystal Lake. While in prison, Jason begins to feel a deep sense of inner sadness for his crime. He is lost in a sea of sorrow when he meets Baines, a convict who changes his life forever. Jason is introduced to the Koran and the way of Muhammad and for the first time begins to see something greater than himself in the world. One of the most poignant scenes in recent memory comes when Jason, feeling terrible remorse for his crimes, begins to cry uncontrollably. The image of tears rolling down that hockey mask is something I don’t think I will soon forget.
Jason is finally released 20 years later. He returns to society and begins to work for Elijah Muhammad, one of the day’s great religious leaders. At first, he gives speeches supporting Muhammad, but quickly becomes a well-known, popular leader with a slew of his own followers. In order to stop Jason from taking over the Nation of Islam, Muhammad has Jason kidnapped, cryogenically frozen and hidden in the basement of a local public library.
Jason is re-awoken in the year 2455 by a crew of space travelers who are returning to reclaim the Earth (which was abandoned years earlier because of global warming and high taxes). At first, when the crew discovers Jason they treat him well, but soon they begin to harass and chide him because of his unwillingness to take off the hockey mask. Jason’s spirituality is tested as he begins to consider taking a machete to the explorers in revenge for their taunts. Will Jason overcome his demons and chose the path of peace or will he go absolutely berserk and start killing people with random power tools? The conclusion is a deep and powerful statement on the human condition and on the effects of liquid nitrogen on a person’s skull.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Blithering Sports Fan Prattle, Totally Useless Information on February 19, 2011
Sometimes simple written juxtapositions can simply shutdown the inner workings of one’s mind. Zen Buddhism uses koans for this exact purpose. Mediating on the sound of one hand clapping or why Joshu would bother cutting a cat in half with a pair of shoes on his head are the psychological equivalent of throwing the emergency brake on a Ford Escort while doing 110 miles per hour on the Santa Monica Freeway. If a person pays attention and is tuned into the general weirdness of the universe it becomes apparent that these bizarre feats of language are everywhere.
This evening I found one such “accidental” koan on Yahoo Sports. It managed to make all of the synapses in my brain stop dead in their tracks. The current sports media obsession revolves around the potential trade of basketball star Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets. About an hour ago, I read a headline that said “Anthony To Meet With Nets”. Below it was a headline that said, with equal certainty, “Nets Not Meeting With Anthony”.
If these two headlines are read together they can cause severe damage to one’s cerebellum. How can Carmelo Anthony meet with the Nets while the Nets are not meeting with him? Does this mean that Anthony is in the room with members of Nets management who are spontaneously ignoring him? The Nets are trying to trade for him….why would they be so outwardly hostile towards him? Imagine Carmelo busting into a hotel room filled with Nets brass watching the All-Star 3-point shooting contest. At first, Carmelo talks softly, then he shouts and screams, but the Nets front office simply sits silently avoiding whatever Carmelo does. They shun him. Carmelo jumps in front of the television, he begins to sing the theme song from “Green Acres”, he pulls his liver out of his body and begins chewing on it….no response. What am I to make of these conflicting headlines?!?!?!
I need to know how this is possible. Maybe the two things ARE happening at the same time. Carmelo is in an alternate universe discussing his plans to go to New Jersey while in another dimension the Nets refuse to meet with him. Maybe there are two Carmelo Anthonys in this world and two sets of different Nets. Carmelo A is meeting with Nets A while Carmelo B and Nets B avoid each other. What if these two dimensions simultaneously converged upon on another and Anthony was traded to the Nets while he remained untraded? The Nets of the Nether Dimension would have added a 20 point per game scorer while the Nets of our current universe would still be stuck with Devin Harris and a bunch of guys in the witness protection program. What if the Nether Dimension Nets played the Carmeloless real world Nets? Who would win? If Carmelo scores 22 points in the Nether Dimension and 20 in the real universe, does it mean he’s scored 42 points? How would the NBA possibly track these statistics? Wouldn’t he have an advantage over, say, Kobe Bryant who is currently only allowed to play in one dimension?
What if the Nets got crafty and traded for BOTH Carmelo Anthonys? This would probably kill their salary cap number but they would have added two All-Star caliber players. I wonder if the two could co-exist? Is there room in New Jersey for one Carmelo Anthony? How about two? If the Nets learn to master the art of dimensional travel it is entirely possible that they could assemble a team of all Carmelo Anthonys. Twelve 20 point per game scorers on one team!?!?! They’d average 240 points per game!!!! They’d win the NBA title four or five times possibly in the same year. What if other teams caught on to their multi-dimensional strategy? LeBron James’ PR image issue would be gone. He could simply sign with EVERY team in the NBA. They’d love him again…EVERYWHERE! In other sports this could be huge. The Yankees would certainly go out and sign Albert Pujols 47 times. They’d have Albert Pujols selling tickets, serving hotdogs, playing first base, exterminating bugs, and on and on and on.
Eventually, it is possible to create a worldwide army of Carmelo’s marching towards endless victory. Millions upon millions of Carmelos pulled from millions of different dimensions. Imagine an enemy army trying to hold a city when thousands of 6’9 small forwards come racing over a wall. Who could stop them? They could forever change the world balance of power. What if a foreign government got their hands on a Carmelo dimensional prototype? They could create a nation of anti-American Carmelo Anthonys. The thought is terrifying.
Maybe I’ve taken this too far. I’m no longer sure of anything. I was having a perfectly normal night trying to find You Tube clips of professional boxers fighting kangaroos when this madness seeped into my brain. Yahoo owes me a basic explanation as to how a man can be doing something and not doing it at the same time. I will not rest until I’ve gotten one.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Existential Rambings on February 13, 2011
“The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying.”
–TS Eliot from Ash Wednesday
Recently, a terrible feeling has been crawling up the base of my spine. It awakens me in the middle of the night, it hounds me when I am driving home from work, it swims in and out of my mind every time I consider this cursed blog. I think I had this thought in my mind even before I started blogging, but over the last month its light buzz has grown to a deafening roar. This feeling is in the pit of my stomach and the recesses of my mind all at once. It is a voice that talks to me while I write and a spirit that haunts me when I do not. Nothing makes it grow quiet. It is omnipresent. It is a simple idea, but if you follow it to its logical extreme it is as dangerous as a nuclear bomb. The question is this…Is there that is really worth writing?
It seems a rather harmless line of questioning. That is how it starts. The point of writing is to create something. I hope to create something new. Have all the worthwhile thoughts already been had? Has someone else already put down all the truths and mysteries of life on paper? With the Internet, you can find access to nearly every idea that has been conceived of. Most of us concern ourselves with whether LeBron is better than Kobe or who is married to who and who is getting a divorce or who wore what on the red carpet or who embarrassed themselves in front of the world. If you want to dig deeper you can find recipes for how to prepare ox tail, the history of Buddhism, better and more in depth formulas to calculate the value of third basemen or the performance of treasury bonds, or the lost works of some 19th century poet you came across at three in the morning on some insomnia driven information binge. But to what end? Is it just more and more stuff to fill our minds with?
Maybe I shouldn’t concern myself with creating something original. After all, what is the point of originality? Am I simply trying to justify my existence by conning myself into the belief that I am so special and unique that I can think a thought that the rest of the 6 billion of us could not come up with? Am I so narcissistic that I think I am capable of an idea that has never been here before?
Maybe the point is to appreciate the experience of writing. Maybe the whole thing is about letting my synapses fire and my fingers pound away at some keyboard. To what end? I do it again and again. Words appear. More words appear. Then more. More. They mean something, but who really knows what? They dance in patterns. I already have forgotten most of what I’ve written. I could look back. To what end?
Why bother sending this nonsense out to the world? Looking for fellow travelers on the good ship Earth as we spiral towards our own personal oblivion. To what end? Am I simply standing in front of the Grand Canyon shouting at the top of my own lungs in the hopes of hearing an echo? And then what?
Maybe my words will help ease the pain of human suffering. A noble goal but when you look at what we are up against, it hardly seems possible. A dying heap of flesh and consciousness trapped in a fading world that is saturated with mountains of disconnected ideas adding up to nothing in particular is going to be helped by some random guy typing random words on a computer screen? Really? I haven’t watched enough Frank Capra to buy it. It is a pleasant delusion, but a delusion nonetheless. Maybe the goal is to delude others into forgetting their troubles. They will remember them soon enough or, worse, they will enjoy the delusion so much they will forget what is happening to them and the ones around them. Apathy or sadness. Ignorance or constant horror. To what end?
If I could write something that could teach people how to live forever or convincingly show them that their actions are connected to something greater then maybe I would be writing something worth reading. But I am not that good of a writer and I doubt I will ever be. I wonder if anyone is. Existential dread is what it is and I can’t write it away for myself or anyone else. Can writing change the truth of what we are? I simply don’t believe that. And even if it could…to what end?
Maybe all of the thoughts have been thunk and all of the dreams have been dreamt and we are simply recycling the same old nonsense in slightly different packages again and again and again. Over and over. The paint job changes but it’s still the same old world. Meet the new boss same as the old boss.
This isn’t my MacArthur speech to the troops blog. I plan to keep doing this again and again for no apparent reason. It is a complete waste of time. It has no value and is utterly and completely useless. I enjoy writing more times than I don’t. I like hearing how my words hit people. I am deeply curious as to how my innermost thoughts are perceived by strangers. I guess that is something, but it will fade after a while. These are simply words on a page and they don’t mean anything. Nothing lasting or real or forever or genuine will ever come out of my mind or my hands. They are shapes, they are colors contrasted with the background, they are a speck in the eye of history. They are words. Their lifespan is about as long as it takes to get to the next sentence.
It is a rare person who can make being a scoundrel seem like a completely respectable way to make a living. Occasionally, this sort of scoundrel works his way into politics. Most corrupt politicians today bathe themselves in the murky oil of self-righteousness. It is quite unique to find a man completely devoid of principals and willing to make that a matter of public record. George Washington Plunkitt was such a man.
Plunkitt was a State Senator in New York during the heyday of Tammany Hall. The Tammany political machine ran New York City for over a century by offering jobs and protection for new immigrants in exchange for votes and political influence. Tammany produced some of New York’s most influential politicians (William Mallory “Boss” Tweed being the best known) and even counted a Vice President (Aaron Burr) and a Presidential candidate Al Smith among its ranks.
The organization had many outspoken, charasmatic politicians, but Plunkitt was probably the best at explaining “The Tammany Way”. Plunkitt’s book “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, Delivered by Ex-Senator George Washington Plunkitt, the Tammany Philosopher, from his Rostrum—the New York County Courthouse Bootblack Stand” contains some of the most intriguing justifications for corruption that have ever been written. His distinction between honest and dishonest graft is deeply flawed but amazingly compelling.
Here is an excerpt that captures Plunkitt’s belief about how the system works…
Everybody is talkin‘ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin‘ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin’ gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.—and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.
There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin‘: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”
Just let me explain by examples. My party’s in power in the city, and it’s goin’ to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park at a certain place.
I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.
Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that’s honest graft. Or supposin‘ it’s a new bridge they’re goin’ to build. I get tipped off and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches. I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.
Wouldn’t you? It’s just like lookin‘ ahead in Wall Street or in the coffee or cotton market. It’s honest graft, and I’m lookin’ for it every day in the year. I will tell you frankly that I’ve got a good lot of it, too.
I’ll tell you of one case. They were goin‘ to fix up a big park, no matter where. I got on to it, and went lookin’ about for land in that neighborhood.
I could get nothin’ at a bargain but a big piece of swamp, but I took it fast enough and held on to it. What turned out was just what I counted on. They couldn’t make the park complete without Plunkitt’s swamp, and they had to pay a good price for it. Anything dishonest in that?
Up in the watershed I made some money, too. I bought up several bits of land there some years ago and made a pretty good guess that they would be bought up for water purposes later by the city.
Somehow, I always guessed about right, and shouldn’t I enjoy the profit of my foresight? It was rather amusin’ when the condemnation commissioners came along and found piece after piece of the land in the name of George Plunkitt of the Fifteenth Assembly District, New York City. They wondered how I knew just what to buy. The answer is—I seen my opportunity and I took it. I haven’t confined myself to land; anything that pays is in my line.
For instance, the city is repavin’ a street and has several hundred thousand old granite blocks to sell. I am on hand to buy, and I know just what they are worth.
How? Never mind that. I had a sort of monopoly of this business for a while, but once a newspaper tried to do me. It got some outside men to come over from Brooklyn and New Jersey to bid against me.
Was I done? Not much. I went to each of the men and said: “How many of these 250,000 stones do you want?” One said 20,000, and another wanted 15,000, and other wanted 10,000. I said: “All right, let me bid for the lot, and I’ll give each of you all you want for nothin’.”
They agreed, of course. Then the auctioneer yelled: “How much am I bid for these 250,000 fine pavin’ stones?”
“Two dollars and fifty cents,” says I.
“Two dollars and fifty cents” screamed the auctioneer. “Oh, that’s a joke Give me a real bid.”
He found the bid was real enough. My rivals stood silent. I got the lot for $2.50 and gave them their share. That’s how the attempt to do Plunkitt ended, and that’s how all such attempts end.
I’ve told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin’ the city get rich the same way.
They didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin’ to find the public robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don’t find them.
The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let me tell you that’s never goin’ to hurt Tammany with the people. Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn’t isn’t likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I do the same in public life?
Another kind of honest graft. Tammany has raised a good many salaries. There was an awful howl by the reformers, but don’t you know that Tammany gains ten votes for every one it lost by salary raisin’?
The Wall Street banker thinks it shameful to raise a department clerk’s salary from $1500 to $1800 a year, but every man who draws a salary himself says: “That’s all right. I wish it was me.” And he feels very much like votin’ the Tammany ticket on election day, just out of sympathy.
Tammany was beat in 1901 because the people were deceived into believin‘ that it worked dishonest graft. They didn’t draw a distinction between dishonest and honest graft, but they saw that some Tammany men grew rich, and supposed they had been robbin’ the city treasury or levyin‘ blackmail on disorderly houses, or workin’ in with the gamblers and lawbreakers.
As a matter of policy, if nothing else, why should the Tammany leaders go into such dirty business, when there is so much honest graft lyin’ around when they are in power? Did you ever consider that?
Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I don’t own a dishonest dollar. If my worst enemy was given the job of writin’ my epitaph when I’m gone, he couldn’t do more than write:
“George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em.”
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Basketball Coaching Nonsense, Blithering Sports Fan Prattle on February 1, 2011
Last night, Paul Pierce put together a game that will certainly go down in the annals of the Boston Celtics as one of the most warrior-esque performances in that franchise’s history. After receiving numerous injuries, Pierce returned to the game against the Miami Heat and scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 121-119 overtime victory. What made the game special was not just Pierce’s fabulous numbers, but the amazing series of setbacks that Pierce overcame to lead his team to victory. In the postgame press conference Ray Allen called Pierce’s performance “amazing” and said that he was “a true warrior”
About 3 minutes into the game, Ray Allen stole the ball from LeBron James and threw the ball the length of the court to Pierce. Pierce went up for a layup and was hammered to the floor by Udonis Haslem. The team doctor brought Pierce back to the dressing room and after a series of x-rays determined that he had a fractured orbital bone in his face. Grasping the importance of the game, Pierce put on a plastic, Rip Hamilton mask and returned to action with 3 minutes left to go in the quarter.
Upon his return to the floor, Pierce scored 6 quick points. He threw in a great slashing layup to tie the game up at 27. Unfortunately for Pierce, he landed off balance on his right ankle causing a severe sprain. Pierce was carried off the floor to the locker room by several teammates and it looked like he would be lost for the game. Three minutes after Pierce went to the locker room he miraculously ran out of the tunnel and on to the court just in time for the beginning of the second quarter.
Pierce faced more suffering in the second quarter. While taking a jump shot, Pierce was shot in the back by a deranged Heat fan in the 8th row. The shooter, Karl Lee Wiley, was arrested immediately by security. Pierce, who was lying on the court in a pool of blood, was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance. As the ambulance was driving away, Pierce burst out of the back and ran towards the court. With 2 minutes left in the second quarter, Pierce checked back into the game. Coach Doc Rivers was truly impressed. “I’ve had players play through injuries before, but I’ve never seen a player overcome a gunshot wound and go back in the game. Paul is a true warrior.”
The second half was also quite difficult for Pierce. While drinking contaminated Gatorade before the half begun he contracted a severe case of dysentery. Pierce spent much of the next 10 minutes shaking and running to the bathroom. He became delirious when he was in the locker room and claimed that he saw Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale walking through the door. Yet somehow, Pierce was able to get his symptoms under control and return with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
Pierce continued to play an inspired game. He went up for a monstrous dunk to cut the Heat’s lead to 9 with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, his fingers got hooked on the webbing of the net and he was stuck, hanging by one arm in the air. Doctors, worried that Pierce could die from being suspended in mid-air for too long, immediately amputated the arm allowing Pierce to be freed. Pierce was again rushed to the locker room by the medical staff. But, it a moment reminiscent of Willis Reed’s injured return to the court during the Knicks championship game in the 70s, Pierce came out of the tunnel with only one arm and checked back into the game with 2 minutes remaining. Showing no effects from the terrible, arm amputation surgery he had only moments earlier, Pierce quickly fired in two three pointers to tie the game at 107 and send it to overtime. “He’s simply a warrior,” said Celtics Forward Kevin Garnett, “and this was the most warrior-like performance I’ve ever seen.”
During overtime, Pierce suffered a severe concussion, a brain aneurysm, a broken leg, was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a contracted a severe staph infection. With 3 minutes remaining, Pierce’s heart stopped and he collapsed on the court. Medics pronounced him dead on the scene and began to cart him off the floor, but somehow his heart began beating again and he returned to action. On a night where nothing could stop him, Pierce threw in a jumper from the corner with 2 seconds remaining giving the Celtics the victory. Shaquille O’Neal added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Celtics pulled ahead of the Heat for the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Division. Pierce expects to play tomorrow night when the Celtics travel to Sacramento to face the Kings.