Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Welcome Back, NBA!

The NBA season dawns upon us, and I couldn't be happier. Seriously, the four months or so between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the season are way too long for me. As we start this NBA season, I want to look at what is it about the NBA that I enjoy so much, and what are some things I like less.

The first thing is the tempo of the game. In football, there are 40 seconds between plays. In baseball, there's almost that much time between pitches - and that's before the entire Yankees infield comes in to sing a chorus of Kum-by-ah in the rain during the 12th inning! That is just. Too. Damn. Slow. In contrast, sports like hockey and soccer feel too fast and out of control for me. As was said on "The West Wing" once, even the announcers seem surprised when there's a goal! In contrast, basketball is a high-paced sport but one that is under control (mostly). The pace can range drastically from the "Seven Seconds or Less," high-scoring New York Knicks to the slow, deliberate pace of the San Antonio Spurs. And the team that controls the pace has a huge advantage on the game!

The second is the team aspect of the sport. In fairness, other sports have this too, but I like it in those sports also. And for all the basketball haters who argue that the NBA has too many "me first" players and no one really plays "team" basketball, I challenge you to actually watch some good NBA teams. The Lakers won a championship last year playing the Triangle Offense, which is predicated on team play and cooperation. The Spurs, as much as I dislike them, are the epitome of team basketball. Teams that rely on one player - like LeBron James - often are stifled because team defenses are capable of stopping them. Watching an offense like the Lakers' last year is great to watch, as each player fills a role and does their job. It just makes the game pretty to watch.

Third is the amazing individual talent on the court. With only five players on the court for each team an individual player can have a dramatic effect on the game. When certain players (like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Dwayne Wade, for example) go into "Eff You" mode and just take over games, it is mesmerizing to watch. These players seem like they are in God Mode for a video game and are just unstoppable. It's a testament to their abilities and determination - and just tons of fun to watch.

So there are some of my favorite things about the NBA. Of course, there's plenty I don't care for, but we'll get to that in due time. For today, I'm just going to enjoy the game.

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