Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ode to the '10-'11 Season

You think Joel Anthony can't shoot in games? I shoot worse in an empty gym!

I wake up at 7 pm. Realizing that I've slept through the first half of the Knicks v Celtics, I scurry to find the television remote. I wait impatiently as my TV takes it's sweet time turn as it always does (You'd think by 2011 televisions would have evolved to the point of turning on immediately, but I digress). The muscle memory of my fingers immediately finds the buttons for ESPN. Oh no, wrong station! My mind races to figure out what network as the game. TNT! Finally, success! And that's when it hit me. I'm completely addicted to the NBA at this point in my life. Every decision I make. Every social event I attend. It's all dependent on what's happening in the NBA that night.

I didn't always feel this way. There was a time in my life when I hated watching NBA games. Felt there was too much scoring. Too many inconsequential possessions. Sure, I kept up with the sport enough to know how the teams were doing and who the big players were, but I had no interest in making the NBA the Helen to my Paris or the Kelly Kapowski to my Zack Morris. Growing up I was always more interested in what I felt were more structured sports: football and baseball. To me basketball games always looked like ten guys running around with no real purpose trying to put a ball through a circle. I don't usually enjoy admitting when I am wrong, but I was wrong... So very wrong.

This was my first season to really watch NBA basketball. So what spurred my interest to make the NBA the object of my obsession? Those fourteen fateful words spoken on July 8th, 2010: “I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” I might as well out myself early. I'm pretty big LeBron James fan (Sorry, everyone). Needless to say I was giddy with excitement (Pet peeve: Why do people say “needless to say” before they say something? If it doesn't need to be said, then why are you saying it? Also, why did I just violate my own pet peeve? I suppose these are phenomena mankind will never truly comprehend). The possibility of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh playing together on the same team had potential to be legendary.

Like a little kid on Christmas Eve, I couldn't wait for the season to begin. I wanted to experience every second of every game. I bought a League Pass Broadband subscription, and that was the end for me. Sure, it started with a Heat game every two or three days, but it as with any epidemic, it spread and spread quickly. Soon I was watching every game I could, scouring the web for as much content I could find, and reading some of the wonderful books people had written on the game. I've watched more NBA games than I care to admit this season, and I don't regret a single second of it. Of all the seasons to focus on basketball, I believe a picked the best season. From the Melo Drama to the roller coast that has been the Heatles, the Bulls' emergence, the creation of the monster that is Blake Griffin, the return of Chris Paul, the amazing trade deadline, and the debate (or lack their of) over the MVP award, it's been a wonderful five and a half months.

NBA basketball is a beautiful sport when you really pay attention to what's happening, but it's easy to see how the casual observer can get lost in the process. To the casual observer, the game is nothing but chaos. Five players on offense running around, while five defenders chase them. But to those who eat, drink, sleep and live NBA basketball, it's a choreographed ballet as wondrous and majestic as The Nutcracker or A Midsummer's Night Dream. With pick and rolls, hedges and traps, slip screens, and defensive rotations, NBA basketball is a marvelous dance that's choreographed and directed by the likes of Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson (Phil Jackson is easily the Rodgers & Hammerstein of our generation. Would anyone really dispute this? Also I'm confusing metaphors here, but just go with it.). 

It's a beautiful game when played well, and I've truly enjoyed making it my obsession for these past months. Let's all hope that we get to revel in all its splendor again next season.

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