Typical sports highlights are full of winners hitting winner shots, wheeling around to their teammates (also winners, in these moments) and doing winner things: embracing, jumping up and down, hugging, maybe injuring themselves, usually just letting winner-elation course through their winner bodies.
Ogle the winners if you like. Me, I look at the losers.
The second round of the NBA playoffs this year gave us three fantastic examples of why this is. Case study the first: Derrick Rose with this buzzer-beating bomb.
Perfect Vine-length, this clip. Rose pulls up, throws up that long three, even pulling his fingers away from it at release to beat the clock. The camera follows his teammate Mike Dunleavy racing back to embrace the statuesque victor. But look at the Cavs, in various states of disappointment. Arms flop. Heads sink. Feet shuffle. The life falls out of them. That little lift and release of the hands by — Shumpert, is it? The international signal for "I give up"? This is quality emotional vacancy on display.
Case the second: Same Cavs, this time on the other side of the ball. LeBron atones for a bit of crunch-time garbageball to catch-and-shoot the Bulls to a state of total inertness. The Cavs are all pumping legs and little skip-hops of kiddie joy. The Bulls have just been told that the next Blue Line train will be delayed seven minutes. This legend-building LeBron dagger is the 2,000th most interesting thing that happened in their day.
Not so with these morose Atlanta Hawks! Once Paul Pierce called "game" and hit glass, the Verizon Center erupts into a scene that looks more like ol' alma mater punching a ticket to the Big Dance than a bunch of Beltway mopes winning Game 3. But because the Wizards have one of the most beat-down fan bases in sports, and are more used to amazing shit happening to them instead of for them, they go berserkers. Pierce goes bananas. The other Wizards go bonkers. And those pitiable Hawks. Look at them. Kyle Korver doing the once-clap knee-lean. Dennis Schroder getting his hand practically into Pierce's nostril, then having his arms turn to jellybags once the ball falls. Who is that tangling in the paint with Gorat — is that Mike Muscala? Braced to block out 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds of Lodz's finest and then suddenly left with nothing to do.
All these professionals, stabbed in their hearts, say with their bodies, "nothing to see here." Except that Vine, the social media of schadenfruede, lets us watch on perpetual loop.