Monday, October 24, 2005

It's NOT all about the bling

There's nothing quite like the sound of millionaires who have spent their entire lives from age 12 on reacting to the news that they can't do what they want all the time. I'm not sure you can call their indignation righteous, because most everyone else on the face of the planet has to answer to someone each and every day.

But to hear some of the NBA players react to the news of the upcoming dress code (or code of dress conduct) would lead one to think they've been told they can't dribble from coast to coast any more, that it's 4 star hotels henceforth, not 5 or that they're riding coach from now on.

Yet, in this case, I actually happen to agree with them. I understand that the people who run or manage a business have it within their rights to impose a standard to which all the employees of that business will be held. But in most cases the reasoning behind that standard is logical and makes sense for the business in the industry in which it operates.

The NBA is imposing this restrictions in response to reactions of the money behind the power- the national advertisers. The advertisers, a group of people who are, in most cases, white males living in segregated or isolated communities, can't related to tall black men wearing do-rags and enough jewelry to sink the yachts the advertising executives sail. And they think that because of this, the demographic population they're going after can't relate either.

They're right. And wrong. I can't relate to Alan Iverson, Paul Pierce or Ron Artest. I've never lived in a community where I was a member of the minority. I've never attended a school where I may have been pushed along from grade to grade not because I could dissect a frog, but because I could dissect a 2-1-2 zone defense. I've never been in a position where total strangers would approach me and make demands of me- where to go to college, donate money, spend time with other strangers- just because I could execute a cross-over dribble. And I certainly don't look at them with their pendants the size of the spare tire to the very small car I drive and think I want to be just like them.

But the way they look is not the reason I don't go to NBA games any more. Part of it is that I can't afford to. Except for the seats so high up in the "Gahden" that you need portable oxygen in order to avoid passing out, I can't afford to go to more than 1 game a year. I don't have 75 dollars to drop for a 3 hour experience that I DON'T LIKE WATCHING. And that is the bigger problem. The NBA has allowed itself to become the tall version of hockey- where the absolute goal is not to score, but stop the other team from scoring. Movement without the ball? Maybe during the pregame drills. Tough man to man defense? It's what happens in a different court. Today's basketball games are tedious affairs, slow movements punctuated by the odd sound of sneakers smacking onto the floor as the players run.

A professional basketball game is 48 minutes long. The shot clock is 24 seconds in length. There are 120 sets of 24 seconds in a basketball game. Of the 6 games in last years finals that did not require OT, the teams averaged 151.3 shots combined- or a shot every 19 seconds. To put it in terms my math-phobic daughter would appreciate, they used slightly more than 79% of the available time to take a shot. The stunning part of that? The teams still managed to shoot for less that 50% (combined the teams shot for 42.8%). Which means they took 19 seconds to take a shot that missed more often than it went in. Could they have accomplished that level of "competency" in 13 seconds? Could they have at least made it interesting for the fans by running and, GASP, passing the ball while moving enroute to that missed 18 footer?

If David Stern and the rest of the suits in NY want to make a favorable impression on the public, the BUYING public, then they have to do what it took a lockout to accomplish in the NHL- they have to blow something up and reintroduce movement to a beautiful game. If they do that, then the players can wear whatever they want and the fans won't care. As long as the players stay out of the stands while doing it.


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