Debunking the Reasons to Watch the NBA Finals

Like many of you, I have read several articles this week telling me why I should watch the NBA Finals. Not a single one is compelling enough for me—and most likely, the average American sports fan—to turn the channel from reruns of Wipeout or World’s Deadliest Car Chases and try to enjoy a competition that is probably fixed from the get-go.

In a season that began with a tug-of-war between owners and players over which party will have the privilege to pocket the majority of cash coughed up by a nation of fools, the 2011-2012 basketball campaign saw NBA Commissioner David Stern’s continue his masterful racketeering scheme more efficiently than ever. How he and the league attract anybody to watch regular season basketball after this public display of greed-laden grievance, let alone shell out $40 for a cheap seat, is perhaps the shrewdest scheme in the entire world of sports.

Image of David Stern getting rich

The inability for both sides to reach an agreement in a timely manner led me to declare a personal boycott on NBA basketball for this year’s games. As it is, I spend enough time and money feeding my appetite for spectator sports without basketball. If these multimillionaires feel the need to fight over my money without providing any notable service in return, I will happily watch other millionaires play a children’s game with a different-sized ball on TV while wearing a shirt that matches theirs. I can also fill the void of witnessing the nightly tattoo exhibition by attending a heavy metal concert or shopping at my neighborhood Safeway in Northeast Washington, D.C.

If there was any modicum of hope for redemption in my mind, it was shattered for good two weeks before the season was to begin.

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NBA’s Second, Less Boring Season Begins

Image of NBA fan

Many fans, including myself, are awakening from the typical slumber-inducing NBA regular season.

Many people mark April 15th on their calendars as a reminder to pay their income tax. It is also a day for large U.S. corporations to celebrate another victory over common man and revel in the fact that they will pay Uncle Sam jack squat as they realize $10 billion in profits (GE did just that in 2010). With these troubling disparities, all we have as working class slobs is the solace that only April can offer: relatively half-decent weather in which to drown our sorrows, a new Major League Baseball season, and the beginning of the actual NBA season — the playoffs.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will look at key playoff series — should they actually exist — and combine our efforts and energy so that we might actually survive the brutal eight-week trek to the NBA Finals. But first…

Regular Season Round Up
If you have not been following professional basketball up until the playoffs, fear not. You missed nothing. The 2010-2011 campaign offered few surprises other than Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and his meteoric rise to a chorus of overwhelming harmony in the likely unanimous vote for Rose as regular season MVP.

There was surprise in Utah, however, where the wishes of a fragmented Utah Jazz fanbase materialized in all forms during 2010-11. They ran Carlos Boozer out of town immediately following last year and Boozer now finds himself amidst a championship run with Chicago. Those who were jaded with Jerry Sloan and his 20-plus years reign as head coach had their call answered when the great Sloan, presumably fed up with today’s pampered athletes and a stubborn Deron Williams, retired before the All Star Break. To top it off, the Jazz lost the player that ran Coach Sloan out of town — Deron Williams, who was until then, the face of the Utah Jazz.  In essence, a lose-lose-lose in Salt Lake City.

People may attempt to qualify the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York as surprising; I file it under “who cares” (much the same way fans in Denver have).

Now, none of that matters. However, as lengthy and predictable as the regular season was, you can expect more of the same in the playoffs. Especially the length.

Only the NBA and NHL boast playoff systems that span the course of at least two full months. They are also similar in that less and less people actually watch — or care — what happens. Apathy aside, here is one reason to watch…

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The NBA: Es Fan-Tástico

Image of svelte Phoenix Suns fan

"Does this jersey make my beer belly look fat?"

Is there a more boring regular season in any North American professional sport than what the NBA offers up each year? Besides the WNBA? NASCAR doesn’t count–it’s not a sport. OK, maybe the PGA.

Out of the Big Three, regular season basketball is at the top of the list when it comes to forcing the sports-loving public into acts of desperation to sate the appetite for unparalleled drama; a drama which can only be fulfilled by watching men battle other men to advance a ball against the opponent’s will–with passion.

I must confess–I am a lifelong fan of basketball. Baseball is still my first love (apologies to the missus), but I have always held a soft spot for growing up  and cheering for Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers battle against Larry Bird and the hated Celtics in the 1980s, and witnessing perhaps the greatest athlete of my generation in Michael Jordan redefine the way the game was played. I particularly enjoyed watching the way these giants played against–and hated–each other. Every time they faced off. Even in the regular season.

Fast forward beyond the golden years of the NBA into the present day and you find that the competitive drive to pound the other guy into the hardwood that permeated throughout the league has transformed into a fraternity of collegial millionaires who are more interested in being invited to the hottest parties in Souf Beach [sic] by the very people they claim (and fans hope) they hate–guys from the other team.

The result? Fan interest is trending ever southward, particularly mine. Even with my favorite team vying for the cherished three-peat, I still find myself hard-pressed to sit down and take in a regular season game. Why? These games don’t matter. I know it, the players know it, and now–apparently–the league knows it.

Half of all teams in the league are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Good teams can usually sleepwalk into the post-season, so long as they stay healthy and/or out of jail, and bad teams are simply unwatchable.

I’ll tune in once the playoffs begin, but until then, my resolve is very similar to that of the average NBA player–I just don’t give a damn.

With apathy levels skyrocketing amongst traditional fan bases, the NBA is reaching out to a new demographic from which they will inevitably siphon as much disposable income as possible–the Hispanic population.

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