Ricky Davis

Originally published in SLAM 83

This is what you’re waiting for. This is what, mere days after you pick up this issue, will start. There’s no waiting period, no time to warm up, no easing your way back into it. When the ball goes up for real ’round Halloween, it’s on. Midseason form? That’s an expression. Once leather smacks hardwood for the first time, it’s full-throttle.

Sure, the early season games don’t really count. (Or, if you choose to believe a theory espoused by Charles Barkley, the entire regular season doesn’t really count.) But is that why you really watch anyway? Is that what you pay for League Pass and top-deck seats to see? Wins and losses? Sure, in the end, wins are what you want. But while the games are happening, you don’t watch the scoreboard or the standings. You’re watching the game.

You think you had a long summer without the NBA? How do you think the players feel? Some got their fix in the Olympics, others in charity games, yet others in semiformal runs at Hoops in Chicago, or at Venice, or Rucker or the Westside Tennis Club. Some partook in all three. But none of that’s the same as running in front of a full gym with strobes flashing and the season’s clock officially ticking off. So it’s in that first real game, with summer over and everyone fresh as can be, that you get a little more lift in your step, a little more bounce in your hops. Right, Ricky?

Russ Bengtson

At 0:33 in the video below…