Friday, August 14, 2015

Requiem for a loser

You know that guy (whoever he was) who said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"?

He was wrong.

Winning isn't the only thing. There's also losing.

There's losing with style, with grace, with dignity. There's losing epically, outrageously, heartbreaking-ly.

You know that other saying, "Can't win for losing"? Well, no one would have ever said it if it weren't for the ones who did the losing.

Which brings us to the most magnificent losers of all time, the Washington Generals. In 63 years as the willing foils for the Harlem Globetrotters, they lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 16,000 games. They won three -- beating the Taiwanese National Team (how bad were they?), a Russian Army team and, yes, the Globetrotters one fabled night in 1971.

Red Klotz, the ancient set-shot artist whose family still runs the Generals, hit the winning shot that night. He said later it was "like shooting Santa Claus."

Red had that backward. What happened recently to his Generals was like shooting Santa Claus.

What happened was the Globetrotters called and said that, after six decades, they were dropping the Generals as their principal opponent.  No more losses. No more sneaking up behind Red Klotz and yanking down his trunks, or the trunks of Red Klotz' spiritual descendants. No more buckets of confetti, no more Curly Neal dribbling around Generals as if they were traffic cones, no more Meadowlark Lemon running his zany sets down on the low blocks, making the Generals' post player look like, well, a post.

"All great rivalries come to an end," said Globetrotters' legend Sweet Lou Dunbar.

Although that great hammer-vs.-nail rivalry still seems to be going strong.

Not so Generals-vs.-Globies, the closest analogy to the aforementioned. The Gens have lost their last game, and it's their greatest loss ever. And so raise a glass, ladies and gents, to the end of era. Raise a glass to losing like no one ever lost. Raise a glass to losing in the grand style, and to the nobility that attends it.

Raise a glass.

Just make sure, you know, the glass has a hole in it.  

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