I used to be a huge fan of the NBA. In fact, I was pretty much obsessed. Basketball was my favourite sport, and the NBA trumped the MLB in my preferences as a kid. My brother collected baseball cards, I collected basketball cards. I probably can attribute much of my inspiration as a kid to David Robinson, the hall of fame center for the San Antonio Spurs. I read about him in a book about Christian athletes at my piano teacher’s house, and was hooked from then on. I focused my attention and financial resources on collecting as many things David Robinson as possible – I amassed more than 300 of his cards (not including duplicates), more than a dozen magazines with him on the cover (in pristine condition), several posters, and a couple jerseys. I even submitted a picture and article about my collection to Beckett Basketball Monthly’s feature on kid collectors (I didn’t make it in). Once he retired, my allegiance to the NBA dwindled.
It dwindled perhaps because I was growing up. Or maybe I just didn’t have any strong allegiance once The Admiral retired. Or maybe the quality of NBA games severely diminished after the passing of the old guard – when players like Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and John Stockton retired, the game just didn’t seem the same. I blame it more on the latter. Players didn’t seem to play with any heart or play with any effort, especially during the regular season. I started to greatly prefer the passion and purity of the college game to the highly individualistic, statistic-driven NBA.
I didn’t watch a lick of NBA basketball this season, but I read and heard about its resurgence due in part to the influx of new stars. It’s a different game than the Jordan era, but it has rediscovered the passion (apparently). I didn’t buy it – until last night. I decided to turn game six of the NBA Finals on in the background while I read and did some homework, mainly because my brother was doing the same. I was hooked. I didn’t read a single page or write a single word. What happened to the boring NBA from a few years ago? What happened to the endless isolation plays? What happened to selfishness and lack of team effort? While I didn’t really like either team, I was impressed by the collective passion and team play of the Celtics. I ended up mesmerized by the entire first half – more NBA than I have watched in more than three years.
But then my wife called and needed to be picked up from the Pearl Jam concert. I didn’t even think about watching the second half when I got home. Seems like it wasn’t an instant conversion. Maybe I’ll watch another half in three more years.