An athlete passing their prime is one of the saddest things to watch in sports. Watching Brett Favre’s last season was painful at times, to the point where you’d cringe watching an old man get beat up by a bunch of young players far better at the game he once owned. It’s tragic in the sense that it represents lost youth on a grander scale. Everybody goes through life with unfulfilled dreams and doors left unopened, and everybody thinks they can still achieve those dreams no matter how unrealistic it is for the point they’re at in life. Only an outsider can truly observe how pathetic it looks, but once in a while, an old athlete has a moment so pure and raw it defies the tragic cycle of aging.
Favre didn’t handle the end of his career properly, but his end of the game touchdown pass to Sidney Rice made all the shenanigans worth it. Federer might not be able to consistently compete with Nadal and Djokovic, but his French Open victory to end Djokovic’s win streak was an unforgettable and dignifying match, and as I watch the Heat-Knicks game, Baron Davis’ opening three is one of those moments.
Sure, it’s a smaller scale, and it wasn’t as dramatic as Federer or Favre’s heroics, but it signified the culmination of a comeback to relevancy. For the last couple years, Davis apparently filled in for Adam Richman on Man vs. Food, because he put on weight like Kelly Clarkson, you could just see he was depressed. A brilliant businessman who’s made millions through off-court ventures, Davis watched his career go by painfully. He had moments of brilliance, and his last playoff performance in 2007 where the Warriors beat the Mavericks was inspiring, but with no ring and definable legacy Davis must’ve felt unfulfilled. Now, he’s back in the spotlight, playing above average defense while saving the Knicks from the cruelty of starting Tony Douglas. He isn’t putting up ridiculous numbers, or sweeping the nation with dramatic performances, but he’s finally comfortable and dedicated to a team. New York probably won’t win a championship, and most likely Baron Davis will finish without a ring, but watching the smile on his face after he made the first basket of the game, it’s clear that he’s finally fulfilled.