Friday, February 13, 2009
NBA: Not that Baller
To start off today's blog, I have no idea where this photo came from. You wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how hard it is to find a picture of a ref calling traveling, so I had to settle for this guy that looks like a Boy George wannabe in some bizarre dance video. This my friends, is what is wrong with the NBA, there is no freaking traveling anymore. But in a larger sense, it is the decline of fundamentals, principles and character in the NBA that has led to such lousy product over the last 15 years or so. The rise to prominence of King James, CP3 and Glen "Big Baby" Davis is helping bring fans back to the game, but the NBA is rotting from the inside.
To the referees: The NBA definition of traveling is about 5 paragraphs long, but we all know what traveling is. I see traveling get called in college games (albeit not enough), but I haven't this year seen it called in an NBA game. How hard is it to see that a player has taken a step with his pivot foot? Do the refs honestly think that a player can get from outside the 3 point line to the basket in 3 steps or less? These referees need to start calling the game more strictly. Also, from the principles standpoint, what is with the referees giving a veteran player "respect" and not calling a foul or traveling on him? Honestly, how many times have you seen Kobe travel and gotten pissed off? Or what about Michael Jordan's famous "push off" on Bryon Russell against the Jazz in the NBA Finals that helped him hit the game winning shot? Every time I see that it makes me mad. Blow the whistle ref, I don't care who has the ball. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention Tim Donaghy in the referee section in terms of how referees have lost their principles. It is an extreme example, but worth mentioning nonetheless when describing how referees have helped lead to the decline of the NBA.
To the players: To quote one of the most famous high school football coaches of all time Bud Kilmer, "Stick to the basics. Stick to the basics. Stick to the basics." The NBA has quickly become a game of who can best slash to the basket and try to dunk the ball over the other team, or who can shoot the most 3-pointers. It has long been said that the mid-range jump shot is a lost art. What about defense? What about passing? Kids grow up these days worshipping the slam dunks, fancy dribbling, and general showing off displayed in street ball or And 1 Mix Tapes, and lack the fundamentals that made basketball better to watch. Crisp passes, sharp shooting from all areas of the court, and TEAM DEFENSE. Oh it was great stuff. I think the NBA would be better off abolishing the 3 point line and outlawing dunks; it would promote a return to fundamentals in basketball.
I don't even know where to begin when addressing the decline of principles and character in the NBA. Just like many of the others sports, it seems that every day somebody in the NBA is getting in trouble. In the past few years, we have heard tell of a player throwing jizz towels at his butler, witnessed several team vs. team brawls, witnessed team vs. fan brawls, a player requesting that a former team mate "tell him how his ass tastes", a player who shot his limo driver, and enough drug suspensions to last us 'til Rapture. Do you think Larry Bird would have done any of these things? What about Dr. J? What about the Mailman? I bet even he wouldn't ask Stockton to tell him how his ass tastes. There has been an extreme decline in morals in the NBA. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would say that the league is full of thugs, and that the coaches and league officials have no control over them.
The NBA is taking baby steps to bring back fans however. I can honestly say that I am considering watching the All-Star Game Festivities this weekend for the first time since A.I. and the Sixers were nasty in the year 2000 (cue Conan O'Brien). Even with that said though, the NBA is in need of some drastic changes both on and off the court to bring the league back to the prominent place that it was in the 80s and early 90s. There are a few all around "good guys" stepping up to the challenge, but the riff raff (both players and refs) are too much for them to fight on their own. My suggestion is to overhaul the entire system.