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If Patience is a Virtue, Sports Fans Are Virtue-less

Latin poet Prudentius extolled the virtue of patience in Psychomachia circa 1170 BC. I didn't learn that in school, I wiki’d it, because who wants to sit in a Latin class. And like my impatience with learning, we as a society seem to no longer covet the virtue of patience. We simply don’t have time for that crap.

Gosh! We suck and it is everyone else's fault!
Gosh! We suck and it is everyone else's fault!
Christian Petersen

Today, fans, players and management will not settle for the time it takes to develop success. Rookies are busts unless they perform out of the gate. Coaches are losers unless they win right away. Teams are doomed during the pre-season. Players are disgruntled after one minute of play without a “touch”! Fans no longer jump on and off the bandwagon, nowadays they blow it up with an IED.

No longer will we wait for the results of our work, mostly because we don't actually want to take the time to put in the work to get results. Players walk into the gym feeling entitled to everything. Coaches feel the pressure to get instant wins from GM's that cannot wait for success. Fans want heads to roll before the pre-season even finishes. In today's landscape of basketball, you better win fast or you aren't going to be around for very long.

Nowhere was this more evident when Mitch Kupchak waited all of five games to fire the head coach. After an off-season makeover that had the world abuzz and engravers at the ready, Kupchak waited patiently as the Lakers took their time to gel, went through some early season ruffles and ultimately won the NBA championship... Wait! What?

Maybe that is what he should have done?

While nobody except his wife really likes Mike Brown as a coach, a five game leash after a complete makeover seems a bit drastic.

Five Games? Gasol didn't even have time to start sulking. Ron Artest [I refuse to call him that stupid name] hadn't even changed his name to "Flaming Hot Cheeto". Heck, Kobe hadn't even called out his teammates yet. Kupchak probably anticipated all of the above and decided that since he was already going to fire Brown at the all-star break, he might as well just get it over with.

And so it goes in this new age world we live in. Quick to anoint and quicker to hang.

Jeremy Lin got three weeks of unabashed lust from the world, only to be quickly cast aside like a package of undies from Mom on Christmas morning. James Harden was traded, put up MJ numbers in his first couple of games, was nominated alpha dog status, only to fall back to earth and declared "at-best" a #2 [as in a #2 guy, not poop]. If Lebron James had a bad game, I would expect the world to rip his crown off and stomp on it, only to feel really bad about after the next game where he has a quintuple double [although the bad feelings would dissipate within an hour].

We here in Phoenix aren't immune.

Shannon Brown goes all "microwave" on us in one quarter and everyone in Orangeland gets giddy, never mind the fact that Brown also dug us the whole he had to carry us out of. One moment we are lamenting his abhorrent play, the next moment we are solidifying him as our go-to all-star shooting guard, only to finally look for our shovel and measure the size of the trunk in our car. It is dizzying, confusing and exhausting.

This leads us to Gortat.

His ridiculously stupid comments to a foreign language publication are a perfect example of our disinterest in the virtue of patience. Rather than working hard and giving this team an opportunity to gel together, Gortat went the route of a petulant, entitled child. While there is usually a nugget of truth contained within anyone's rants, that truth is overshadowed by the mere fact that we are only eleven games into a season with a roster makeover that makes the Lakers look like they have been together longer than the Temptations.

Gortat's willingness to throw his entire team and coach under the bandwagon only shows impatience gets you nowhere fast. His bomb-dropping comments did little to improve his or the team's situation. Instead of showing up with something to prove, his chose to talk as if his words would get him what he wants.

Well, talk is cheap.

From the fans standpoint, I get it. Fans have always been impatient. We want to win now. We don't have time to wait and watch as some rookie goes through the growing pains of learning the game. We don't want to sit idly by as lineups are tweaked and players adjust to a new system. We don't want to deal with new players figuring each other out while we lose winnable games.

Win baby, just win.

But what of those who are supposed to be professionals? What happened to people in the know who have experience and truly understand that it takes time and patience for success to come? Since when do GM's and players start griping after a couple of pre-season games?

The problem stems from what we are teaching young people. What does a child want? They want their way. They do not have the patience to wait. They don't understand how to earn it. They believe they deserve whatever "it" is and if they don't get it, they throw a fit. As a parent, nobody likes tantrums. They are infuriating, excruciating and embarrassing. You just want it to stop and your first instinct is to do whatever it takes to get it over with. When the noise subsides, you feel instant relief; maybe even feel successful that you were able to manipulate your child to stop their tantrum.

Well, I have got news for you: what you think was a great move on your part, only ingrained misbehavior into your child's repertoire. Rather than enduring the wrath of your child's disgruntled outbursts, you chose the path of least resistance by reinforcing a tantrum as the path to obtain what your kid wants.

Great job parents!

In the world of sports, parents are doing no different. Believing that their child is of unlimited ability and can do no wrong, parents spend their entire effort advocating for their child by fighting their battles, pushing for their way, and reinforcing their kid's belief that they are entitled to things without earning them.

Now we have grown up millionaires who never learned to cope with disappointment. These rich babies have never faced an obstacle in their life that couldn't be eliminated with a well-placed tirade, a pointed finger of blame in the other direction, or the threat of transfer/trade.

Marcin Gortat is a little kid throwing a tantrum. He wants to play, wants the ball and will kick and scream to the media unless someone does something about it. He believes he is the top talent that can bring us to the promise land despite no actual evidence to support it. He believes that this is both a problem with coaching, as well as teammates who clearly don't get "it".

What a big gargantuan wealthy child!

Rather than waiting patiently to let his teammates figure out their roles, he complains. Instead of realizing that it takes time for a coach to work out strategy with new players in the fold, he points fingers. He could have shown up to work ready to prove himself through maximizing his effort, but that takes work. No, it is easier to complain your way into getting what you want.

I applaud Alvin Gentry's response to this. As the "parent" in this situation, Gentry said "NO" to the child. He didn't placate Gortat by coddling him and telling him what he wants to hear. He didn't substitute something that would make Gortat happy enough to stop his tantrum right then and there. Gentry did what every parent should do, tell your child "that is nice kiddo, but you suck in the post and I am not giving you jack squat. You have to earn it!"

Kudos to you, Dad!

Tough love is necessary, but it doesn't provide immediate results. In fact, when you say "NO!" usually the noise gets louder and the tantrums get more pronounced in the immediate. Sometimes that is hard to take. Losing is hard to take, but someone has to have the cajones to understand that the process of growing and learning takes time.

We as fans should pay attention. Our grumblings push front office types to make hasty decisions like bad parents. Rather than understanding the value of patience and making quality choices to develop fundamental foundations for success, GM's are pushed by feeling the need to meet the unrealistic expectations. Coaches make drastic moves in order to get in front of things before they are blamed for the failure. None of this is a recipe for success.

After eleven games, we have already gone from proclaiming Marcin Gortat our most valuable asset that would require a superstar and multiple high draft picks in return for a trade, to someone we need to dump. After eleven games, our most beloved hustle guy and in-house basketball genius Dudley has played his way to being a throw-in on a trade simply because he has disappeared. We have already written Luis Scola's obituary, written off Kendall Marshall, have determined Beasley is bad for us and know that Wes Johnson is useless despite not even playing.

Remember the thing about the nugget of truth. Well, that is the sad part of it all - that it may be all true. But what we have lost in all of this is the fact that we haven't even given any of these guys a chance to figure it out. We have not given them any time to make adjustments and deal with their obstacles. We haven't allowed them to work at it to see if they can earn our respect.

Which brings us back to Prudentius . The guy was right: Patience really is a virtue.

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