As many people know, I am a BIG sports fan. I love, love sports. Sports was one of the things growing up that gave me a sense of normalcy despite my development problems growing up. No complications or worries watching Magic Johnson no-look pass a ball to Big Game James on the fast break, just a great pass though I never really liked the Lakers (I hate you Kobe though you are really, really good).
Whether it was scooping up grounders at 2nd base or watching the Buffalo Bills Kicker Scott Norwood shank the potential game winning FG with my dad when I was 7 years old eating a Sausage & Peppers hero thus starting a 4-year saga of the Buffalo Bills losing the Super Bowl and constant mockery from me when I was a kid though my team, The Jets weren’t really good in the early 90’s until Parcells changed the culture for a few years.
While I worship NFL Football like it is Jennifer Love Hewitt with a really, really tight dress. There is a special place in my heart for the NBA.
I remember weekends at my great grandparents house in the Park Slope neighborhood when I was young. I would sneak upstairs to their bedroom and watch basketball on their small TV. I was hypnotized by the NBA on NBC theme music and they always had like two marquee afternoon games on Sundays to watch.
This was during the NBA Golden Age when you had stars like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Magic, Bird, Isiah Thomas and while the Bulls, Celtics, Lakers and Pistons really dominated that era, it always felt like any team had a chance.
All these teams all had a great player or deep rosters whether it was Dominque Wilkins on the Hawks or Don Nelson’s “Run TMC” Golden State Warriors teams, which was a fast break style of basketball featuring a trio of dynamic players of Tim Hardway, Mitch Richmond and Hall of Famer, Chris Mullin).
These teams while they didn’t have the talent, LA or Boston had but sometimes they would suprise like one season where Kevin “KJ” Johnson and the Phoenix Suns and upset the Lakers one year in the playoffs.
I remember really getting into the first playoff series when the NY Knicks under then coach, Stu Jackson defeated the Boston Celtics on their last legs because Bird and McHale were on their last legs as players. Only for the Knicks to get destroyed by the eventual NBA Champions, Detroit Pistons who were called the “Bad Boys” because of their forwards Rich Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer who loved mugging opposing team players and hardcore approach to overall defense.
I loved watching Basketball with my dad, I think growing up to the present day I must have watched more than 1,000 games on TV with my Dad especially the NY Knicks, our team or the national games on NBC, ABC, ESPN and TNT.
I remember my dad and I yelling at the TV during Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals when John Starks cost us the finals with unclutch shooting (2 for 18 in Game 6) or when notorious “Knick-Killer” Reggie Miller burned the NY Knicks in the final seconds of Game 1 of the 1995 Conference Semi-Finals for 8 points in 16 seconds in a stunning comeback at Madison Square Garden ultimately costing the Knicks the series.
The NBA, probably after the 1999 Lockout until last season wasn’t the same like it was when I watched as a kid. You didn’t have the dynamic the league has in the 80’s and 90’s where every team had stars, marquee franchises other than Boston’s Big 3, the Shaq/Kobe Lakers or Tim Duncan’s Spurs teams and, “The Battle at the Palace” (Google this, my non-sports friends and you will go insane) Free Agency/High Schoolers jumping into the league where “overpaid, too soon” immature punks and marginal, overpaid role players diluted the talent pool and hamstrung teams in the process like my New York Knicks (Fuck You, Isiah Thomas!) from being competitive for a decade.
While I felt the NBA was broken, I still watched and love the NBA even if the Knicks were terrible and I think Stephon Marbury was paid to be a team-killing asshole.
Last season was a revelation, it felt like a renaissance had happened and ironically started by one of the most douchiest things I ever saw when Superstar (and Choker) LeBron James embarassed/humilated his hometown team, Cleveland by announcing his decision to leave them on National TV and joined fellow Superstar Dwayne Wade and “Fake Superstar” Chris Bosh in Miami to play for the Heat.
This caused an uproar by many NBA Fans and non-fans, especially the city of Cleveland who felt betrayed by it’s “hometown son” (sorry LeBron, I don’t care that you grew up in Akron. Douche).
Contending teams and upcoming teams immediately all took action and all made moves in order to compete with the Heat who everybody thought was going to win the NBA Title because of their starpower whether it was Bulls overpaying Carlos Boozer, Knicks risking 100 million on Amare Stoudemire’s knees and trading a lot of players for Carmelo Anthony, and teams taking chances on Tyson Chandler and a declining Shaquille O’Neal.
What occurred was on of the best seasons I ever saw. I knew last year was going to be something when my kid brother, Tony was willing to pay half for us to get the NBA Package to watch ALL the games. Those who know my brother, would be shocked he was willing to pay for anything.
What happened was a memorable season when there were atleast 6-7 teams capable of winning the NBA Title. Rookie Blake Griffin was high-flying with monster dunks and injecting life into the shitty LA Clippers franchise and making Baron Davis give a shit for atleast 2 weeks. Even bad teams like Minnesota had exciting players like Kevin Love who was a monster on the boards and made killer outlet passes to start fast breaks. Dynamic Superstars like MVP Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Rajon Rando all making their marks.
It all culminated in a Playoffs for the ages with great series, buzzer beaters, little short spanish guys named JJ dominating series: Where the underdog bottom seed in the West. Memphis Grizzlies made a run after upsetting San Antonio. Miami was the team you hated yet just kept winning, driving me and others crazy. The possible finale of the Kobe/Gasol Lakers after they got destroyed by the Dallas Mavericks.
The finals was the best finals I saw in my life since the 1993 Finals when I saw the underdog Dallas Mavericks and their German Star Dirk Nowitzki and their army of skilled role players upset the unstoppable Miami Heat in 6 games where Dirk basked under pressure even when sick and we saw LeBron prove more and more that he is a choker. People thought he was an actual Zombie, the last 3 games in that series where he laid an egg bigger than an Angry Bird. I got excited when Dallas won and they weren’t even my team.
When the season ended, I knew this year was going to be a fluke and the NBA Lockout was going to happen.
Currently, The NBA is out of control as it stands even after one of it’s best seasons:
Too many bad players are getting way, way overpaid where guys like Eddy Curry make 60 million to sit on a bench and eat Klondike Bars and hurt teams in the salary caps hindering their success.
Too many bad owners are being allowed into the league affecting small market and large market teams from sustaining success.
I can’t even afford a ticket in the nosebleeds at Madison Square Garden where I used to watch a lot of Knick games even in their best seasons for a reasonable price.
The NBA doesn’t have the same marketing edge they used to have. I personally think there are too focused on expanding the game globally, they have alienated their main fan base in the United States which is affecting small market teams in need of a push.
Notice how the NFL and MLB seemingly have stayed a float recently, they really have been emphasizing playing up teams and stars in their marketing, weeding out “bad owners”. and reach out to the youth.
The NBA cannot be sustained as it is currently, if that means cancelling the entire season to get it right. I am fine with that. Sure come Playoffs, I will “kinda” miss it. But I rather have that than have another year with a broken system.
I always have College Basketball and Hockey to get me through 🙂
-V. for Vinnie