Five Stages of Grief

Psychology and basketball go hand in hand like Freud and his theories about our mothers.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi taught me everything I know about psychology via her cross-legged conversations with Tony Soprano. Freud is king and his theories are gospel. Here are the cliff-notes: everything you do is to please your mother. Everything. It’s #Science.

Okay, I’m being a bit facetious. I did take some psychology courses in university and although I skipped/slept-through more than half the lectures, I studied enough psych to know that outside of post-Millgram social-psych and neuroscience (read: psychology studied as a science), everything else is mostly crap. That means that the forefathers of the field – Freud, Yung, Piaget and co – were mostly full of hot air and intricate hypothesis that simply served to justify their own personal insecurities.

But you know what’s not pure crap? The Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. Oh sure, the model has been debunk by numerous scholars, but think about the last time you’ve experienced a tragedy – did you experience denial? Anger? Bargaining? Depression? Acceptance? Probably, right? See? the crux of every good model is predicated on confirmation bias.

Anywho, the Raptors played last night and in the spirit of recapping last night’s loss, let’s diagnose last night’s tragedy through the frame of the five stages.

1. Denial

Flash back to the last play of the game. There’s 1.0 seconds left in overtime. Demar just tied the game at 102 apiece by splitting a pair of free-throws. McBob is in-bounding from the sideline and the only big on the floor happens to be the ground-bound Al Jefferson, meaning there’s only one option for the ‘Cats: fadeaway jumpshot from one of the wings.

The whistle didn’t blow. Patterson didn’t jump up and down, flailing his arms like a madman in an effort to cut off passing lanes. There’s wasn’t any weakside action from Henderson and he didn’t try to cut backdoor for an alley-oop. The play wasn’t totally obvious – a pin-down for Kemba. Jefferson didn’t sets a slightly illegal screen on Lowry and Kemba didn’t cut to the left side of the floor. With a mere second left on the clock, the Raptors didn’t switch and Jonas wasn’t tasked with guarding the speedy Walker and Jonas wasn’t a step too slow to react. Kemba didn’t catch the ball, turn, fade, and he certainly didn’t shoot a high-arcing jumper from 18 feet over the leaping wingspan of Valanciunas. The ball did not painfully arch over the height of the backboard, stopping for a second in mid-air before splashing into the basket, catching nothing but net.

The game was not over on that shot. Nope.

2. Anger

Okay, maybe all that did happen, but why did it happen? Why did it even get to that point? The Raptors were up 10 going into the half. How did they squander the lead?

AHA! It was that misguided coach! It was Dwane Casey! Lame ducks aren’t supposed to quack! Why doesn’t he have a playbook? Why did he let the Raptors descend into pure isolation plays for the entirety of the second half?! Why did he bench Jonas?!?! Why did he play so much of the two-PG lineups!?!?! FYI, Lowry/Vasquez is not Dragic/Bledsoe! Why did he give so many minutes to John effing Salmons!?!?!

I mean, look at this shot chart for the OT period. FYI: red means no!


And why did Derozan shoot so many damn times? 30 points on 26 shots? What was that about? Did the ghost of Rudy possess Demar (no, ghost Rudy was clearly haunting Baskets)? He was 3 for 9 in the fourth quarter and OT. ATTN: we have other options on offense!!!

And come on, only 24 and 22 minutes apiece for Ross and Valanciunas? What was that? I thought we’re tanking? Why not give these kids some time on the floor to try to work through their mistakes?????? Seriously, what the hell was going on in that second half?


3. Bargaining

Okay, Will, just breathe. Calm down. Calm down.

It was a pretty fun game. The view from the RR season seats were great. The game went into overtime on a clutch three by Lowry and the Raptors made a big comeback in OT to tie it. It wasn’t that bad, and hey, you have Kemba on your fantasy team. His 29/5/1/3 line is WHOA BOY! worthy.

And come on, the Bobcats are a top-10 defensive squad this season. I mean, you try to score on the likes of McRoberts and Jeff Adrien. That’s like going up against Hibbert and George! The Raptors were always going to struggle to score.

And hey, this gets the Raptors closer to Wiggins/Smart/Randle/Parker! If that’s not the silver lining in a gut-wrenching loss, what is? Cheer up, Amir! I know you’re working your butt off and you’re enjoying the best season of your career, but let’s just waste all that so we can catch a sniff at some more ping-pong balls! It’ll totally work out! Look at who we’ve drafted – Araujo, Bargnani, Graham, Ross – I mean how could you say no to THAT track record?

4. Depression

You know what? I just read through that list of names and I can’t do it anymore. This team is just awful. All of our hopes rests on the shoulders of a 21 year old big man with wonky defensive instincts and one post move. The only time we’re happy is when we get out from underneath a terrible contract that we put on ourselves (Bargnani, Gay, Turk). We have to force ourselves to love a player like Ross. I mean honestly, who had more skills in their second season: Sonny Weems or Terrence Ross?

And come on, it’s not like this is the calm before the storm or anything. There is no calm, there’s only ever storm with this team. If it’s not years of watching the aging husk of Jermaine O’Neal lumbering around, it’s cheering for Alan Anderson or Ben Uzoh. It’s seasons where Bargnani and Derozan are the only viable options on offense. It’s getting excited because some assistant coach brought a rock into the locker room. It’s getting excited that Hedo Turkoglu chose our crack-capital over beautiful Portlandia because his wife is “international”. It’s hoping so hard for Nash that we signed Fields to a ludicrous 3-year-18 million deal.

The boxscore said there were 15K+ in attendance last night, including myself, but I have to ask: why are we still here? Seriously, why? And why would you want a generational Canadian talent like Wiggins here? When was the last time we actually developed a draft pick? Bosh?


5. Acceptance

The Raptors suck. Teams that suck lose games. They’ve lost to the Bobcats twice this season. But hey, at least this guy doesn’t play here anymore:

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