Couple of good pieces on the nature of fame this week in Sports Illustrated. First, from Charles Pierce’s profile of Phoniex Suns point guard, Steve Nash (and what a pleasure it is to see Pierce back in the pages of SI):
His globalized upbringing and the cosmopolitan view of the world that it developed in him have given Nash a firm sense of who he is and, with it, the freedom to explore all the aspects of who he is. It armored him against the way that celebrity can be isolating. It gave him ways out of the bubble. He was a globalized man before the NBA became a globalized product, and that has made all the difference. It made him free to run around in his bachelor days with Dirk Nowitzki, when they were both young and Mavs together, just as he is free today to bring his family to New York City for the summer, and to play in his soccer games and drink beer with his teammates afterward. It has enabled him to avoid being “authentic” by remaining genuine.
“Sometimes,” he says, “it takes a lot of dusting off to say, ‘Where am I? What am I doing?’ because it’s such an all-encompassing pursuit. It’s such a marathon, whether it’s a season or a career, that you can easily lose track of what’s taking place. A little bit of you, I think, disappears every day. You’re city to city, and you’re in such a routine and it takes so much to get through it that you just kind of get numb to it and, in the process, you lose a certain amount of consciousness of what you’re actually experiencing, every day. You don’t see anything anymore.”
Also, be sure and check out S.L. Price’s excellent profile of Tiger Woods:
“One thing Tiger’s not is vulnerable,” says John Daly. “It could be worse for us, I think. I think he’s going to come out and just kick everybody’s ass.”
Woods knows that only winning can begin to dilute the sewage surrounding his name. Playing, though, will be the easy part. Tiger has never shown much ability to laugh at himself, and he is now a global joke. It’s unclear how, aura dissolved, he’ll react to the thousands of faces staring, to the once-ignored crowd that now knows him, in a twisted way, better than his wife ever did.
After 15 years in the cultural firmament Woods has become three-dimensional at last: The crash and the stint in therapy, his February statement of remorse and his self-immolating critiques revealed a champion at war with himself. To have him detonate the biggest public-relations bomb in the history of sports feels almost tragic, until you recall that his marriage and career still draw breath. Nothing died but an image.
The Masters starts today.