Empty basket

Olympiakos-Panathinaikos in the basketball cup final. Highlight number one: Ahead of the game, in true-NBA fashion, a girl sings our national anthem. Some seem to believe that music soothes the heart and that the words of our national poet can mitigate fans’ passions and bring out the most pure of sentiments in them. It didn’t quite work that way. The fans, at least half of them, chanting over the national anthem, chanted their club’s name over the word «freedom.» There goes the first part in the triptych country-religion-family. Highlight number two: The empty stands separating the rival fans. It’s probably where the immortal Ancient Spirit (a spirit, therefore invisible) sat to watch the game. And given that it is accompanied by the Beautiful and the Great and the True, as another of our great poets assumed, it was given an entire section on the stands. Highlight number three: Judging from the slogans about pleasure-seeking mothers chanted by the supporters of the two clubs, a second part of the triptych – the family – is also in serious trouble. Highlight number four: Before the game, the TV runs an Olympic Properties commercial. As we stand on the verge of bankruptcy, the ad is a painful reminder of the squandering of funds in the bid to realize the vision of a pharaonic Olympic Games in 2004. Highlight number five: One of the players takes up position on court and crosses himself, in that cute way as if we are casting some spell rather than expressing our faith. In the end victory went to the religious man. But if we believe that the 17 offensive rebounds were won by St Jumper rather than Childress or Kleiza, then the third part of the triptych – religion – is also in trouble. Highlight number six: Winners and losers congratulate each other. A brief moment of civilized behavior in a lengthy show that has for years now been staged by people who say that a celebration must not turn into a battle, only to issue battle instructions just a minute later.

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