Do injuries to stars matter?: The Bucks Fan’s Dilemma

Dilemmas abound in the history of thought and literature: Sophie’s choice, Hume’s fork, Euthyphro’s dilemma, etc.

Some of my Greek friends here might help me, but I believe that the word dilemma comes to us from two ancient Greek words: the prefix ‘di-‘ (which means two or twice); and the word ‘lemma’ (which means something like premise). So a dilemma is a particular way of arranging speech such that you have two premises (statements), and what is characteristic of a dilemma is that in a dilemma you end up with two premises neither of which are desirable. It’s a forced choice between two undesirable or unthinkable, in the strict sense of the term, alternatives. Theoretically speaking, a true dilemma can defeat an argument, but also force us to think deeper. Practically speaking, dilemmas can force us to make tough choices. Damned if you, and damned if you don’t.

Sophie had to choose between her two children or they’d both be murdered; Hume, in short, forces us to choose between tautology and mere belief (ruling out the possibility of any knowledge of the outside world); and Euthyphro had a complicated choice to make that undermined his definition of piety (which was a big deal when he was using this definition of piety as a justification for prosecuting his father for murder).

Unfortunately, the lingering injuries to Khris Middleton, as well as all the time missed by Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo have, in my opinion, left Bucks fans with a dilemma of their own. I’d articulate it like this:


Fork 1: Injuries to stars don’t really matter.

Fork 2: Injuries to stars do matter.

This may seem innocuous, obvious, or even stupid. But it might just present us with a dilemma.

If we choose the first fork, then the Bucks current level of play and the fact that they sit as close to the play-in as they do first place is a major disappointment. After all, injuries to stars don’t matter, especially when it helps you overcome the presumptive favorites to win it all in the 2021 playoffs.

If we choose the second fork, which appears much more desirable (since it would justify the Bucks current play and last year’s disappointing playoff run), things might get worse. For if injuries to stars do matter, then we have to admit that maybe all the pundits and Nets fans were correct. Maybe the Bucks were quite fortunate to play the Nets in 2021 with an injured Harden and without Kyrie.

But this isn’t just about losing face in front of Nets fans and national pundits. If the Bucks needed quite a bit of luck (i.e., injuries to star opponents) to make it to the Finals in 2021, and if this is essentially the same team that only through fortune made it to the Finals in the first place, then they’re going to need those same breaks (and then some, since the conference has gotten better) to make it to the Finals again. And unfortunately right now, it doesn’t seem like lady luck is with the Bucks.

Someone help me out of this dilemma.

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