I’m done with the NBA. It was a fun ride, but I’m done.
Not “just for now.” Not “until they start playing,” if they actually figure this out. I’m done for the season… if they actually have a season.
Thanks to the lockout, we’ve already lost the first two weeks of the NBA season and you know what, that’s good enough for me. I don’t need the NBA and their collective bargaining drama to interfere with my life. I have plenty of other things I can focus on to take my mind off of the fact that the NBA is wasting a golden opportunity here. I don’t have to sit and read and listen to interviews about the “poor players” or the “poor owners.” No, I’m done.
The NBA is more popular now than it has been since maybe the peak years of Michael Jordan. They have more young stars and young talent than they seemingly know what to do with and by not sitting down and seriously trying to figure this crap out, they’re wasting it. Wave goodbye to a year of The Big Three, Kevin Durant, and a second year of Blake Griffin.
Sure, the players and owners sat locked in a room talking jibber jabber for 30 hours over the past 3 days, but they haven’t accomplished anything. Well, except for pissing me off to the point of turning in my fan card for the 2011 season and moving on to something else to fill its void.
That something else, you ask… The National Hockey League.
You read that right… I’m shunning the NBA for the NHL. Congratulations David Stern, Billy Hunter, and all associated parties! You’ve forced my hand with all of this collective bargaining nonsense and your lack of urgency until games were already cancelled. So… I’m done with you.
Now, this is not as completely drastic as it may sound. It’s not like I’m shunning the NBA for cricket or pro beach volleyball… or even soccer. I like hockey. Actually, I like hockey a whole hell of a lot. The only problem is that since it’s forced to compete with the NBA for my attention each winter and early spring, I tend to put it on the back burner until the playoffs roll around.
But not this year.
I’m diving head first into everything that is the NHL. I’ve started reading articles and checking standings and statistics online daily. I’m turning on versus late at night to watch their nightly wrap up show or the last period of whichever game might happen to be on. I’ve even cracked and joined a fantasy hockey league team for the first time in 3 or 4 years. I am all in.
Of course, since I’m from Cleveland I don’t hold any strong allegiance to any team in particular. I root for the Blue Jackets out of principle, but watching them waste Rick Nash year after year after year has grown tiresome. I like the Penguins, if only because Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr are staples of my child hood. I even root for the Sabers thanks to the close proximity to Buffalo. In all honesty, it’s a nice problem to have.
With the other three major sports, my allegiance is tied to one particular team that I live and die with. It gets a bit aggravating, what with the constant losing and all. Hockey is different. I get to enjoy it just for the sake of enjoying it. I can pick and choose teams to root for. I can hop on and off of bandwagons as I please without hearing crap from my friends (first, because they have no allegiances in the NHL either and second, that’s because most of them don’t watch the NHL). I can enjoy the sport for what it is; a fast paced game that’s both violent and graceful. It’s amazing to watch, especially in person. Think about it… these guys are whipping around, lord only knows how fast, on razor-sharp skates hitting a frozen rubber puck upwards of 100 mph at one another.
And then there’s the fighting… and the traditions… and the superstitions. The Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry is a blast. The rivalries between the various teams that seem to date back to the dawn of time are spectacular. Bruins-Flyers, Bruins-Canadiens, Maple Leafs-Sabres, and Detroit versus everybody else just to name a few. There’s so much to take in and there’s so much to love about it. They had me at “hello.”
As for the NBA, I think they have seriously miscalculated their value in our lives. I know I’m not the only person to feel this way. Plenty of my friends are content to focus more on college and NFL football than ever before. Some have even gone so far as to join me in my hockey watching movement. If not for their stubbornness and inability to solve their own problems the NBA wouldn’t have to worry about losing fans to other sports. But they couldn’t figure it out, so this is the reality they now have to face.
The real question is, will people come back? The answer to that question is undoubtedly yes. In time, people will come back to basketball and the hardcore fans will always be there. It’s the casual fan that they will struggle with and the fans that choose to ignore them out of spite (I fall into the latter of the two categories for the record). It took the NHL a good 5 to 6 years before they could say they were fully recovered from missing an entire year. The NBA won’t take nearly as long as that, but it will still take time. Just add that onto the pile of issues that everyone continues to ignore. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to ignore them.
The NBA… where amazingly stupid happens.