I realize that this is becoming a tired subject around these parts, but, if you're anything like me, you understand that getting something out in writing really makes it a lot easier to accept.
And for every Bright Sider's sake, I need to accept it. So, bear with the emotional ramblings of a teenage girl as I work towards moving on.
I remember the first time I saw Goran Dragic. It was during the home opener of his rookie season. Scanning the Suns bench with a pair of binoculars, I saw him. And it was love at first sight. Not wanting to be shallow though, I came home and looked him up, watched his play, and made the decision that I was going to be his biggest fan.
I had been away from Suns basketball for a little while, somehow forgetting what it meant to me, and Goran, in a way, brought me back to it. I re-fell in love with Suns basketball through Goran Dragic. I found Bright Side of the Sun because of Goran Dragic. I guess, more than anything, I'm just thankful that I saw him.
Last year, I went to the Suns vs. Wizards game for my birthday and I asked in the team shop if they had any Goran Dragic merchandise. The salesman looked at me like I was crazy. So, I had a jersey custom made. And I wore it every day for the whole week after I bought it. Almost everywhere I went with that jersey on, I heard some sort of comment about "Goran Tragic" or how "that kid" won't make it in the NBA. I even heard "Why would you waste your money on that?" I refused to accept those comments and it only fueled my loyalty towards him. One thing you have to know about me is that I am loyal, almost to a fault, when it comes to things I care about. That is why it's second nature for me to stand up for Goran whenever he is being put down, whether it's true or not.
I constantly say that I don't need a boyfriend as long as I'm a Suns fan. They provide as much happiness, confusion, and heartbreak as any man could.
Goran being traded was something I was always secretly afraid of. I honestly wanted this season over with so he could sign an extension and I could stop worrying. While I never wanted to believe it, somewhere in the back of my brain, I knew this was possible. You could see it in Goran's eyes. Something was missing that was there at the end of last season. And you could see Alvin Gentry's growing impatience. But my love defense mechanism kicked in and forced me to continue believing in Goran until it hurt.
Two days ago, when it actually happened, I realized that I didn't really know how I would react. I went into a numb panic; I found my way to class without realizing it. And that's when I lost it. I was confused, I was shocked, but mostly, my heart had just been broken. I didn't know what to think. I had spent 3 years working towards supporting him, feeling on top of the world when it seemed like I had proved everyone else wrong. When you work so hard at supporting someone, at loving someone despite their faults, seeing someone else lose their faith in them feels like a kick to the stomach. I was sad for myself, but I was even more sad for Goran.
I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I thought I could never watch the Suns again. I was absolutely determined to not give Aaron Brooks a chance. But then a funny thing happened. I got on Bright Side of the Sun and knew that I should never have dared to even re-consider my Suns fandom. While I was angry with Alvin Gentry and with the front office, the trade changed nothing but my SB Nation signature.
I bought NBA League Pass today. Since I'm saving my money right now, I was cautious about giving up $99 just to watch great match-ups and Blake Griffin whenever the Suns weren't playing. But seeing Goran sent to Houston was the push I needed to go through with it. I'm not going to support Houston, but I could never just dispose of Goran.
I prepared for tonight's game carefully. I had my pillow, tissues, and an alarming amount of chocolate at the ready. Surely, I would get emotional.
Which is why I was shocked when I began to watch the game and only felt a small pang in my heart.
Goran missed a 3-pointer: Big surprise...
Goran missed a free throw: I shook my head in disgust.
Goran turned the ball over: Like I haven't seen that before.
Goran Dragic plays for the Houston Rockets now. That's just the way it is.
Yes, seeing him in the jersey for the first time was... weird, to say the least. But somehow, it didn't hurt quite as much as I thought it would. More than anything, it just finalized it. Like when I first saw Amar'e in a Knicks jersey or J-Rich in an Orlando jersey. It hurts, but it's real. And I can accept reality.
Please don't take this the wrong way. I still love Goran with all my heart. He is still my favorite basketball player, and I will defend him until the end of his career. I still think Goran can be a good player in this league. But that's just it: I think he can be good.
The hardest thing I've had to accept about being an NBA fan is that the NBA, while a source of entertainment, is, in fact, a business. A business I want to make a career in, no less.
So today, when Seth said that Goran needs to toughen up, I realized that I need to toughen up too.
Now, I am fully allowing myself to still feel upset and sad that Goran is gone, that he was, in a sense, given up on.
I will be at the Houston game on May 8th, wearing the same Goran Dragic jersey I bought over a year ago, when everyone was still calling him "Tragic." I will stand up and give him the loudest and most heartfelt ovation that I can. I will probably get emotional. Heck, I'll probably even cheer if he does something cool.
But if Aaron Brooks does something cool, I'm going to cheer for him too.