I was a fan of the "This Is SportsCenter" commercials from the start.
The self-depreciation of the athletes. The mocking. The writing. The comedic timing. It all reeled me in to the point where I looked forward to the next one, and the next one.
These days, often, I think about the one that arguably is my favorite, because the tone – while comedic – actually fits the present seriousness.
The commercial is this: Fully-uniformed basketball star Dwyane Wade sitting in the editing room next to an editor, attempting to construct a highlight package featuring Wade. The star is describing intricacies he wants to see included in the package, and an anchor opens the door and tells Wade that they're waiting for the package.
"When it's ready," Wade replies.
Sheepishly, the anchor subtly suggest to Wade that his "attention to detail" already has caused the highlight to not be included in the previous two shows.
"When it's ready," Wade says again, a bit more sternly, as the anchor silently moonwalks away from the door as he shuts it.
Maybe, not as funny in the retelling, but you get the idea: Wade wasn't going to be rushed.
I'm thinking about that these days, because worldwide, there's such an anxiety and anticipation permeating the sports world, as we contemplate and theorize and project when the games can begin again.
And by games, we mean any games.
And when I hear and see the pining, the answer that comes to mind is this: When it's ready.
The games will commence again when the time is right, and they shouldn't be played a second before that.
I don't say that lightly. I miss sports. God, do I miss sports.
I've been blessed to be able to make a living covering games my entire adult life, first as a reporter and columnist for three newspapers, now as a writer for the Saints website and radio broadcaster for the Pelicans. The withdrawals are real (we'll get a temporary fix Sunday and Monday nights with the re-broadcast of a Cavs-Pelicans game and the Rebirth game on "Monday Night Football.")
Events I've been paid to cover – Super Bowls, NBA Finals, Final Fours, football national championships, College World Series', high school championships – are events people would trample me in order to do for free (at least, that's what they tell me when they're not suggesting how I can sneak them in undetected).
And the people I personally have seen do legendary things in real time – Jordan's jumper in Utah, Webber's timeout call, the fourth of Kobe's four straight 50-point games during the Hurricane Katrina season, Gleason's punt block, Porter's pick-six, Brady's first Super Bowl win, the Honey Badger at LSU, the list goes on and on – are too numerous to count.
But I know this, too: We're not ready. And regardless of how impatient we are, we can't hurdle that indisputable fact.
We're not yet prepared to assemble in tens, hundreds, thousands. Unfortunately, we collectively haven't displayed the wisdom not to expose ourselves to COVID-19, nor the wholesale sensitivity not to expose others who are exponentially more vulnerable to the worst of the coronavirus' symptoms and conclusions.
People knowingly and willfully have collected in masses on beaches, have consciously gathered in churches, and have organized and executed at least one second-line in the midst of the pandemic.
Some NFL players are clustering to work out, even after having been barred from their team facilities as a safety measure.
If any one person in those gatherings was a carrier of the virus but was asymptomatic, he or she possibly unknowingly exposed tens, maybe hundreds, of people who, in turn, left that event and probably went on to expose tens, maybe hundreds, more.
The positive diagnosis' and the death toll keeps climbing, as we attempt to get everyone to listen to one voice and get on the same page and simultaneously run the same play.
We're not ready. But that's not the same as saying we're not trying or that, hopefully soon, the numbers will start trending in the right, healthy direction.
The work being done and precautions being exercised aren't in vain; applaud the outpouring of heroics by medical professionals who are risking far more than they probably ever imagined they'd have to risk. It's the kind of strength we often associate with matters that don't require half as much fortitude and character.
Catching a pass over the middle, or sinking a game-winning jumper requires stones, but that doesn't quite measure up to risking your life in order to preserve another life.
It doesn't measure up to law enforcement attempting to protect us, often from ourselves, during this needed hour. Or Saints returner Deonte Harris – an undrafted rookie who isn't swimming in cash – ensuring that 10,600 meals will be provided to the less fortunate because he was taught, essentially, to help take care of those who can't take care of themselves.
All those things are making our lives better in the interim. Those numbers are the ones relevant now, and in the immediate future. They're the ones worth concentrating on.
Scoreboards? Not so much.
We're not ready. And we shouldn't proceed with anything until we are.