For as long as I can remember, anytime someone would ask me what my favorite sport was, I would, without hesitation, say “basketball!”
But last year, something started to shift. I began to realize it’s been a very long time since I’ve voluntarily put on a basketball game (March Madness excluded). Yet I live for Sundays in the fall. And you can put me in front of any NFL football game, any time, any where, and I’ll watch it. Even most high profile college games I’ll go out of my way to watch.
I’m not surprised by the shift. It’s been a long time since I’ve had love for the NBA. But usually when the Finals come around I’ll become interested enough to watch. But this year, I found myself turning my nose in disgust at the thought of having to watch it, which did surprise me. I was always the girl who could watch any basketball game, any time, any place.
So what happened?
When I sat down to write this post, I thought I knew where this story was going. I was all prepared to talk about why after March Madness I go on hiatus because of how loooooong the NBA post-season is and that’s why I lose interest. Which is why I don’t usually get into baseball. And that since football is back, so is Stiletto Sports.
But then I typed that question “so what happened” and it made me really think. I kiddingly said “well, it’s because the Lakers always win so what’s the point since you hate them?”
I laughed. Then said, “huh….That’s kind of true.” So I Googled it. (By “it” I mean, “NBA Champions” not “why do I not like basketball anymore….”) And I think I finally figured what happened to my passion for basketball.
It can be best explained in a Best of Three Series of Posts.
The Business of Basketball:
Back in high school (without disclosing my true age, let’s just say it was mid to late 90s), I was introduced to college basketball and March Madness. I was wowed by the passion and intensity that these kids played with. As if every game could be their last. Because to most of them, it was their last. As the commercials say, most student athletes go pro in fields other than their sport. Or some other cheesy version of that statement.
Then there was the NBA. Obviously skilled players. Duh. But, something really bad started to happen to the NBA in the ’90s. It wasn’t about the team or the players. It became all about money.
I grew up in a family in New York that inexplicably loved all things Boston during the Celtics Dynasty. It made me love the idea and the integrity of a TEAM and the team history. I was taught to love the players and the coach and the unit that they built together. To respect the rivalries and HATE that other team with all your heart.
I grew up in the era of basketball when team loyalty actually meant something. I grew up with Larry Bird (Boston Celtics 1979-1992), Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers 1979-1992ish), Isiah Tomas (Detroit Pistons 1981-1994), Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls 1984-1998, minus his “I retire” years) Reggie Miller (1987-2005) and Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks 1985-2000).
Obviously, trading was not unheard of in in those days. But those team leaders and players wouldn’t dream of leaving their team, their city, their fans (and bad mouth them) to pack up and move to Florida to join their buddies on a team. Just saying.
I got my first taste of this trading business when B.J. Armstrong of the Bulls was moved out to Golden State. Then to Charlotte. Then Orlando. Then back to the Bulls. And suddenly, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley were teammates on the Houston Rockets. While it wasn’t an actual rivalry between the Suns and the Bulls, there was definitely no love lost between them in the playoffs. And Pippen even wound up back on the Bulls. Patrick Ewing (who I don’t even care for) was uprooted from his team of 15 seasons and shipped off to Seattle. And how many teams has Shaq even been on?
It left a really bad taste in my mouth. And that way back in 2000. Things have not improved in the last 11 years.
As Jesse Dorsey of Bleacher Report said, ” The NBA is a league in constant flux. Players are constantly going from one team to another more so than any other sport, as teams are constantly looking for that one player to get them over the top or get them preparing for their future.”
Instead of building an actual team with a history, loyalty and rivalries, it’s all about the quick fixes and big ticket money makers. Sorry, I don’t want to invest my time and loyalty into that fickle of a “business.”
Basketball might be a sport. But since the late ’90s, to me, it’s been a money hungry, greedy, boring business.
Stay Tuned! Game Two: My, How the West Has Won! is coming up next in this Deflated Hoop Dreams & the Business of Basketball Best of Three Series.