We spend a lot of time on the website speculating about whether Anderson Varejao will be able to play good basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers on a consistent basis again. We don't spend a lot of time appreciating the fact that an injury he suffered last season playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers almost caused him to lose his life. An anonymous reader recently suffered a personal loss. These are his reflections, and I am proud to publish them here. I don't believe I need to say this, but please don't make the comment thread about trying to figure out who wrote this.
Whenever tragedy strikes on a micro or macro level, it is quite common for people to band together. Tragedy isn’t usually serious enough to cancel sports. They say that the show must go on and it usually does. This leads to an awkward dichotomy where the participants (this can include the audience) feel as if the sporting event is something that will help speed along the healing process despite the fact that it just doesn’t feel right playing or watching a game. "This is one of those moments that puts things into perspective. This is only a game and is not real life" might be one of the most common sports-related cliches.
We treat our favorite athletes as commodities. This should not come as a surprise in the age of having ruthless and cold decisions being justified by said decision-maker saying that they "are doing what’s best for their family." Sometimes athletes treat fans quite poorly. We are aware that "it is just a business" is an easy explanation to the fans when a player wants to leave in free agency or sit out an entire season with an injury. That shouldn’t give fans a green light to treat players like objects.
I recently lost a friend. She passed away unexpectedly . I visited her in the hospital where she appeared to be on the mend and on her way home. The ailment was a blood clot in her lung which presumably traveled into her heart and killed her. Her body betrayed her in the worst way possible.
It has taken a few days for me to gather my thoughts. Moments being left alone almost certainly meant that I was going to start tearing up. My perspective was doing crazy things after she passed. The big takeaway that I have from this personal tragedy is that we do not know how long we have on this earth. We should aim to treat people with more respect and show more patience towards others. I began to think about how strange it is to perish in this manner after enough time passed that I could form coherent thoughts. I couldn’t help but think of people I know who have had blood clots who survived. There was one other acquaintance who developed them and managed to not have any long-term effects. Other than that, I couldn’t think of anybody.
And then I remembered Anderson Varejao.
I certainly did not think that Anderson Varejao would miss the remainder of the 2012-2013 season when he injured his knee against the Toronto Raptors in December. That did not even strike me as a remote possibility when he continued to miss games with a knee contusion.
Reports came of Varejao developing a blood clot in his left lung after he had surgery on his right knee. On , Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports interviewed Varejao:
"They told me stories like, 'Oh my God, I had a friend who died of a blood clot in their lung,' " Varejao said. "And then somebody else tells me the same thing. ...
"Then you start to think about it and realize that this is more serious than I thought. A week after the surgery I was at home thinking about how I could be gone right now."
The gravity of Varejao’s situation did not strike a nerve with me and a lot of other Cavaliers fans. The reality is that Anderson Varejao’s life was in danger; I know this first-hand.
It is easy to get frustrated over the fact that he has only played eighty-one games in the previous three seasons. The talent is there for him to be an all star, but it is thwarted every year by a wide-array of injuries. This previous season-ending injury for Varejao was literally life-threatening. Like my friend, his body has betrayed him. Luckily for him, he lived to tell the tale.
Type into Google "Anderson Varejao trade" and 236.000 results appear. One of the top links is a blog post about his trade value being "spoiled." Quite frankly, we should be grateful that he is still alive. We should not be treating him as a commodity. On a personal level, I would take a lot of joy in watching Varejao finish out his career in Cleveland. Seeing him play will always remind me of my friend. His presence on the court will serve as a personal tribute for me. I saw my friend the day before she died. As a sign of encouragement, I told her about Anderson Varejao and how he had a full recovery. Little did I know how grave the situation was.
If the Cavs do trade him, he will have a fan regardless of which team he ends up on. I hope it doesn’t come down to that. In an era where decisions are made solely over the bottom line, it would be refreshing to see Varejao finish out his contract and career with the Cavaliers.
After all, he put his life at risk playing the game for the team. Human life is a very fragile thing and it should never be taken for granted.