Who are we? Why do billions of us exist together on this spinning blue orb? These are questions that have perplexed mankind for thousands of years. These are also questions that came to an abrupt halt Tuesday as Andre Drummond pulled down rebound after rebound after rebound. One might think that knowledge of our origin and our reason for being would bring serenity. Unfortunately, it only brings more questions.
If this isn’t quite making sense to you yet, set your religion’s sacred books down and hang in there for a paragraph or two. Think back to your childhood - well...my childhood, at least. Sitting at the computer, joystick in my hand, popping the disk into the disk drive (just upgraded from a tape player!) and typed LOAD"*",8,1 into my Commodore 64. What pops onto my screen? That’s right, my first basketball game, One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird. This game features only three characters: Dr. J, Larry Bird, and a chubby little ref who sweeps up the shards of glass following a backboard-crushing dunk.
This was followed closely by my next game: Street Sports Basketball. This game featured schoolyard-style captains picking their teams. Those in the know pick Butch, Vic, and Magic as these kids trip over potholes playing in an alley, at school, or on the tough streets of their cul-de-sac. While these were incredible basketball games, there was something they lacked - something that, as it turns out, defines who we are as a human race.
This missing element was introduced modestly in Double Dribble. What do you see if you look beyond the players and beyond the referees? You see the crowd. Sure, everyone is wearing jeans and one of two colored T-shirts, and, sure, these are the creepiest looking people you’ve ever seen with nothing but flesh on their face with no eyes, noses, ears, or mouths, but there they are! People! Regular ol’ workin’ Joes out enjoying a game with their families and friends. Soon, these fans evolved to have faces. They moved. Their evolution progressed from Arch Rivals to 2k16. As humans have progressed, so have computer generated basketball spectators.
Have you ever wondered, though, what happens to all those basketball fans once you turn your console off and leave the house? Do they just sit idly in their seats twiddling their thumbs until the lights come back on? And what does all this have to do with Andre Drummond anyhow?
Well, thanks to his 29-rebound destruction of Indiana’s frontcourt, I realized something. Those pixelated spectators? That’s us! Not in some obscure metaphorical way either. Literally. We are in a video game. Think about it. Countless writers have joked about a player getting hot and going into video-game mode. Andre Drummond’s epic performance proved that that’s just what has happened. No mortal man plays against a group of the best basketball players in the world and comes down with 29 rebounds and 25 points. It just does not happen
Your life? The life of your girlfriend that dumped you? That degree you worked so hard for and the job you’ve been slaving away at? Your wedding? Birth of your children? Andre Drummond, with his so-good-it-can't-possibly-be-real-life-game has just proven that it's all a computer-generated fantasy. We were generated by a greater being’s gaming console. Billions of people created so a small percentage could fill the stands and cheer Andre Drummond on to victory. THAT is our sole purpose in life: to occasionally go to basketball games because some kid is playing a game and needs to buy into the fact that the experience is real.
So now that you know, how do you feel? Liberated or trapped? Has life lost its meaning or do you see meaning in the worlds behind the arena that we have created for ourselves? While we have learned a little about ourselves, we are inundated with new questions: Who do we worship as our creator? The boy who turns us on every day or the software company that designed us? Are they also unwittingly characters in a greater video game? Could we all just be in a game within a game within a game?
Perhaps the next time you play a basketball video game and look out into the crowd, you’ll look on them less as little soulless pixelated blips and more as brothers caught up in the matrix. All thanks to Andre Drummond and his 29 rebound game.