June 23, 2005
The NBA will go on
The NBA managed to come to a six-year labor agreement on Tuesday, thus avoiding a lockout and possibly having to cancel games next season. I don't much care one way or the other as to the fine points of the deal. All I know is that it shouldn't have taken this long to forge one. If I could have done so, I'd have locked David Stern and Billy Hunter into a room and played a recording of the words "National Hockey League" over and over until they both cracked. I'm just glad it wasn't necessary to do so.
Oh, and the Game Seven tonight is the first in the Finals since 1994, when the Rockets won their first of two consecutive titles. Those were good times.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 23, 2005 to Other sports
I'm not as big an NBA fan as I used to be because few players in the league seem to want to play fundimentally sound basketball. The example I use most often is how few American born players are able to shoot an 18-20 foot jump shot any more. I can't bear to watch two teams throw up enough bricks in a 48 minute game to build the Great Wall of China.
I don't have a problem with "Showtime" basketball, since it is part of the game. It just can't be the entire game. The players that popularized that style of play were also among the best defenders in the game (Dr. J, Magic, Bird, Jordan, etc).
As for the threat of a lockout, even if the NBA had gone that far, the league wouldn't have become as irrelevant as the NHL is now in the United States. At this point, NASCAR has overtaken hockey as the fourth major sport, and Arena Football has become more relevant. The NHL is in for some lean years in the United States when they come back.
Let's just say that it appears that neither the ownership nor the NBA players' association was so blind that they couldn't see that both sides would lose more in a work stoppage than they would gain by eventually getting their way months or years after the stoppage.
The NHL folks and the NHLPA, on the other hand, can't see the forest through the trees. They cancelled an entire season and possibly more, costing both sides *far* more money than either would have given up by meeting each other halfway on their remaining differences.
Why does everyone criticize the NBA's low-scoring because of the lack of shooters? The main reason scoring is down is because team defense in the league is light-years better than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. You make 4 passes in the NBA in 1982 and there is a wide-open guy. Today, the rotations are so good that that guy is covered. Almost everybody gets back on defense to prevent the fast break (didn't happen 20 years ago). And frankly the players are more athletic as well. Dr. J, Bird, and Magic couldn't cover these guys consistently today.
Stern has always marketed superstars over the league itself. It got the NBA out of the disaster years of the late 70's and early 80's, but it has stagnated since then. You have to market the NBA, and these incredibly gifted athletes. People will watch defense--they do in the NFL.