Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Basketball Jonez

Well, the NBA and its network affiliate, ABC, finally got their way.

The Finals start tomorrow night, between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. I'm sure that David Stern, the commissioner for the NBA, and all the execs at ABC are breathing a sigh of relief that they don't have to endure yet another year of Spurs vs. Pistons, of trying to find a way to market fundamental, team-oriented basketball based on winning through good defense and consistent free-throw percentages. No longer do the producers have to try to find some way of making soft-spoken and well-mannered Tim Duncan into a superstar, nor do they have to find a way to force every Rasheed Wallace outburst into their narrative of, "He is such a talented player, and could be a Hall-of-Famer, if it weren't for his Achilles' Heel of being an asshole."

No! Instead, they get the gift-wrapped Finals that dreams are made of, Lakers vs. Celtics! Every storyline is prefabricated for them: Kobe Bryant trying to get his first championship sans-Shaq, the Celtics trying to win a title just one year after a total over-haul, Phil Jackson trying to pass Red Auerbach as the coach with most championships. And the history, oh the history! Expect lots and lots of cuts to old banners hanging from the rafters, video montages showing the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabar wrestling a bear during halftime. Believe me, the networks are going to milk this for every penny it's worth, and then some.

But where does that leave the rest of us? Consider this: Since the founding of the NBA in 1950, there have been 58 Finals. 36 of those have featured at least one of the Lakers or the Celtics. This will be the eleventh time that they have played each other, with the Celtics having one eight of their ten previous Finals matches. After this year, the two teams will have combined to win thirty of the 58 titles - that's more than half. It may not be as bad as the Yankees, but let's face it, these two franchises have dominated professional basketball.

But, more importantly, where does that leave me? What happened to my dreams of a New Orleans vs. Toronto match-up? As someone who usually roots for the underdog, how do I choose between a match-up of Goliath vs. Goliath, of two No. 1 seeds, of the two winningest franchises in NBA history? Simple: I'm rooting against Kobe. If you tortured me, I would eventually have to admit that he is, far and away, the best, most valuable, and most talented player in basketball today. But reading this article on cnnsi.com confirmed what I already knew about Kobe: not only is he a jerk, but he's an obsessive-compulsive, sociopathic, narcissistic jerk. And I don't know about you, but I'm still bitter about how quickly he got off of that little "rape" incident in Denver a few years back. No one can say whether or not he was guilty, but the fact that the whole case got dismissed and then quietly swept under the rug did nothing to lower my eyebrows of judgment.

1 comment:

jim v. said...

What? Am I suppose to believe that there are other teams in the NBA besides the Lakers and the Celtics? Off hand I can't think of any. The solution to making sure Kobe doesn't win is to have Joel go to every home game. Apparently when Joel attends a game, the home team looses. In fact if Vegas odds makers ever learned what games Joel was going to attend, I am sure the odds would shift dramatically. What ever you do, keep Joel away from the floor during Karrem Abdul-Jabar's halftime show, for the number one threat to America truly is.......Bears! Maybe we can let Kobe do the halftime show instead.