By Ben Osborne
Opening Day is here, and I am so ready.
No one asked, but in light of the season starting and with my excitement growing, I thought that I, a massive sports fan, would give my personal explanation for what I love so much about the NBA. In short, it’s the players, and how incredibly athletic/exciting/entertaining/fresh/savvy/really f-ing good so many of them are.
Check it out. Besides the NBA, my favorite “sports” to follow are Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball (with some love for college football, European and MLS football/soccer and even hockey/tennis/golf when the time allows).
I like the history and tradition of baseball, and I love the stats, but truthfully, this year’s Playoffs kind of put me to sleep. Thing is, I’m a lifelong Dodger fan, and when their season ended in late-September, so did any true passion of mine for the game. I get the Extra Innings package, which is great, but over the course of the season I bet I watched three games on there that didn’t involve the Dodgers; the rest of the players/teams just couldn’t sustain my interest.
I like the hoopla of the NFL and I respect the execution of these 11-man units, but truthfully, it’s rare for me to watch an entire NFL game…unless the Giants are involved. Like with my baseball team, I go out of my way to watch the Giants, and I care deeply about how they will do every Sunday (making this season surprisingly fulfilling so far), but my knowledge of who plays for the Giants and what their strengths or weaknesses are is about 10 times stronger than the rest of the league. I know what’s going on around the NFL, sure, just like I always know the basics of a given MLB season, but my true caring in both cases is team dependent.
Ultimately, I don’t have this problem with the NBA. Put a gun to my head, I’m telling you my favorite team is the Bulls, forged by MJ, Pip and a father who grew up outside Chicago loving the likes of Jerry Sloan. But it’s been an up-and-down fanship. For much of grammar, middle and high school, my main focus was the Nets, as I loved being different from the Knick fans I went to school with and I dug Net players through the years like Micheal Ray Richardson, Chris Morris and Kenny Anderson.
There were even stretches where I reversed fields, rooting for the Knicks, at least when the player I fell in love with as he hot dogged his way through his St. John’s career, Mark Jackson, was in his prime. Then there were times I pulled for the TWolves because they were cool enough to draft KG out of high school and team him with Steph. Or the times I rooted for the Clippers and then Pacers because Mark was running the show for them. Or the Blazers cause Sheed was so ill for them. These allegiances were confusing to my friends, and even me, and they only “worsened” as my time spent on SLAM increased. A Cav was cool to me in the locker room? Go Cavs! The Knicks locker room was about as much fun as middle-school detention? F the Knicks! It just got silly.
Meanwhile, the talent level of players on every team grew. Steve Nash blew up. AI went all out, every night. The Bron/Melo/Wade/Bosh quadrant entered the League the same year.
So I made a new decision: besides the faintest of loyalties to the Bulls and Nets, I don’t root for any team. And I watch every team. Considering the early signs of fatherhood indicate that this season might have me on my couch, chilling with my daughter, five or six nights a week, this policy will pay dividends: since I can be easily entertained by any NBA game, I be in for a fun season (esp if my Fantasy Team does well…speaking of which, I love that Slamonline readers organized a League, but I’m in year 5 of a $ league with friends and I can only concentrate on one fantasy team per season).
And yes, I know that caring who wins a particular game has its value, but so does not caring; lets me enjoy the individual talents that much more.