It wasn’t that I couldn’t breathe, or that I couldn’t move, it’s that I couldn’t remember how. I couldn’t remember anything. My mind raced in place. All I could think was I need to think something. My eyes grew wider and wider as they tried to pop out of my skull, which felt like it was going to explode under its own pressure. I couldn’t see anything; I wasn’t blind, I just had no concept of what the objects in front of me were. Paranoia sank in. My mind & body conspired to lock me (whoever “me” was at this point) down. I was trapped. My breaths grew bigger and deeper, and yet somehow I inhaled less. Unable to move, my arms planted firmly on the desk, my feet bolted to the carpet. My heart raced, my throat closed, and all sense of reality dissipated. It’s not that my self-pleas were ignored. I just couldn’t make them.
I’m not quite sure if I equip the proper language to describe a panic attack. For me, it eluded words, eluded thought, eluded physical reality. It’s complete stagnancy. Imagine having no control of anything, not your mind, nor body, nor spirit; but you’re incredibly aware of that fact, and only that fact. My thought process wildly outpaced me. My body refused to heed my commands. I was powerless against the one thing that’s unquestionably mine.
To analogize with computers, my processor overloaded, and sparks started shooting everywhere. I rebooted for some time, simultaneously close to birth and death. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it started, but once it was in full swing, it didn’t matter. In the moment, beginnings and ends were irrelevant. There was only paralysis, manifested as fear of nothing in particular.
Here and there over the past few months, I’ve asked Brooklyn Nets fans to let it go. I’ve said the Nets had an off-chance, at best, of trading for Dwight Howard once he waived his ETO. I’ve noted that slim chance lost a few extra pounds once Brook Lopez signed his max extension not as a sign-and-trade, eliminating the possibility that the Nets could include him in a trade (which they’d have to) until January 15th. I’ve noted that the Rockets and the Lakers potentially have better offers. I’ve tried to change the subject to today’s roster. And yet, Dwight Howard is the focus, the stagnant grass that’s greener on the other side.
I think that’s why I was so relieved to let it go. In the past year, nothing mattered in Netsland except how it affected tomorrow’s trade talk. Every question, every move, every quote, every analysis, every rumor inevitably led to one center. Nothing mattered outside of how it affected The Greatness Chase. Nets fans touted the hell out of Brook Lopez all season just to justify shipping him away. The Nets acquired Joe Johnson, re-signed Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, and yet all eyes focused south: what if they got him? What if they didn’t? The marker of my attack was my inability to think beyond my panic-induced box for some unknown stretch of a Thursday afternoon. Sometimes it seems Nets fans have ridden a monorail in circles for 12 months.
The Nets finished their roster yesterday. They’ve got a structure of twelve men, ready to play in the Barclays Center. Barring injuries, they have an ironclad starting five — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez. They’re set. They’d be better with Dwight Howard, sure, but they’d also be better with LeBron James. Until January, no sense dealing in fantasy. Actively making that choice is freeing.
I’ve considered a few alternatives. I’ve wondered aloud to the Nets are Scorching crew about shutting down all Dwight Howard talk until something concrete happens. Conversely, I’ve wondered about posting every story, pushing every rumor, making sure the base understood where the conversation was at that point, if the end result was still an unknown. At this point, I think both sides are too extreme. But who knows, I could change my mind tomorrow. Roll the dice on me.
Eventually, you learn to breathe again. The tension melts away. Your eyes begin to focus. For me, it took a serious amount of weird self-realization that I couldn’t control. However you get through it, you do eventually. The one difference: for me, it could’ve been five minutes or five hours. I honestly couldn’t tell you. Time stood still, because everything else did. I didn’t have a say in that. But with Dwight Howard, after a full year and assuredly more coming, you can always let it go.