It’s all the fog and crud on the pane between writer and subject, and it’s also that most people who play sports for a living aren’t that interesting or complex. It’s the content churn. I have theorized, densely and not a little disingenuously, about every athlete I’ve ever had half a thought about, because that’s what pays the rent, and what you discover, doing this for years, is that you’re often baselessly making shit up, metaphorizing ballplayers beyond recognition, ascribing them thoughts and motivations they don’t have. There’s urgency and shame in this, a word count to fill out, a spiritual need to feel like spending all this time considering the inner lives of jocks isn’t a complete waste. You overreach and sputter, self-satirize. It’s not great.
So it’s a gift when someone like Kyle Lowry waterbugs across your consciousness, because discussing him is, for once, not an exercise in over-interpretation. Here is an athlete who provides a rich, uneven text to sink deep wells into. The piece I wrote is a personality study, and it’s glib in places because it takes the measure of Lowry’s entire arc. Someone else could perform an engaging, narrower examination of his bummer years in Houston, his turbulent collegiate career, or his friendship with DeMar DeRozan. The material is there; the protagonist is compelling.
I just like the guy, too. Lowry meets the baroque strangeness of his profession with rare and searching skepticism, and if this is not always a helpful thing, it reads much more believably than, say, Jimmy Butler’s bellowing truculence or Kevin Durant’s very-not-mad theater. I don’t get the sense that Lowry is secretly really nice or that he’s correct nearly as often as he thinks he is, but what he gives us isn’t a front, and whether he intends this or not, he respects our intelligence with his lack of pretending. Every eye roll is genuine. He won’t tell you he likes his boss. When he seems happy, it’s because he is.
As a writer, you can do something with this, because it is something in the first place. Kyle Lowry has a personality, and it’s kind of defective. I will let you in on a secret: writers tend to be defective as well—moody and petty and untrusting. I relate to Lowry, aspire to his level of grouchy excellence. Maybe this makes him easier to explain. At any rate, it stirs voracious interest, which is a good resource to start with, and not always in ready supply when deadlines are looming and the checking account balance is low. You’re never going to understand your subject perfectly, but some are more substantial than others, and it’s the wanting to, the ambitious headlong here-we-go pursuit of it, that makes the work worthwhile.