by Paul West
Friends and neighbors, we already knew that sports is a gift that keeps on giving. You know about its emotional highs and lows; its sublime manifestations of the human condition in so many of its forms; what a sense of loss so many of us felt in its absence. And if you follow the humble offerings on this blog, (thank you and) you know how I feel about all of the above…and you might understand when I echo the sentiment that few things exemplify all that’s great about sports like a winner-take-all, series-ending game.
In other words, a Game Seven.
‘Game Seven’ has been called the greatest phrase in sports; and while this is up for debate, what’s indisputable is these two words’ impact on the minds and hearts of countless sports fans.
By Game Seven, you’ve likely seen more breathless changes of fortune than you can count. Maybe you’ve held your breath, or covered your eyes and peeked between your fingers; maybe you’ve jumped up and down in joy, balled your fists in frustration, screamed your lungs out for a variety of reasons, or been too anxious to speak above a whisper. Your individual experience, by the time Game Seven rolls around, might vary–but if you’re an avid sports fan, emotionally invested in the fate of a team who’s made it to the last of a seven-game series, your experience has almost certainly been vivid. And if you’re someone who appreciates sports’ virtues independent of who’s playing, then Game Seven is an evocative phrase even if you’re only keeping a casual eye on the series in question.
Tonight–on a Friday the 13th, of all days–the sports universe has granted you, dear sports fans, a weekend in which there will be SEVEN Game Sevens in a two-day stretch. You read that correctly: five NHL series and two NBA series, all of which have been chock full of storylines and plot twists, will all be decided in winner-take-all affairs in roughly the next 48 hours.
You’ve got rising stars like Igor Shesterkin, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Conor McDavid, Devin Booker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo; veterans like Jalen Brunson and Mika Zibanejad breaking through into stardom; ageless-wonder stars like Chris Paul and Jonathan Quick; and teams that have arisen from presumed-done status, like the Dallas Mavericks and New York Rangers. You’ve got anything you could ask for…including months’ worth of bated breath crammed into a two-day span.
Game Sevens are notoriously hard to predict, and I won’t even try to predict a weekend full of them; but I will join countless other sports fans, from avid to casual and coast to coast, in rejoicing in this gift from the proverbial sports heavens. Take a deep breath, get lots of sleep, and enjoy the madness.
By the way, here’s the schedule (all times EST):
Boston Bruins @ Carolina Hurricanes, 4:30pm
Tampa Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs, 7pm
Los Angeles Kings @ Edmonton Oilers, 10pm
Milwaukee Bucks @Boston Celtics, 3:30pm
Dallas Mavericks @ Phoenix Suns, 8pm
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Rangers, 7pm
Dallas Stars @ Calgary Flames, 9pm