This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast the NHL playoffs with the NBA playoffs. There were games all over the tube both Saturday and Sunday, and they served as compelling evidence as to why hockey is 100-times better than NBA basketball.
Let's start with the intensity level. Both sports have first round series that are best of seven games. Saturday's Bruins versus Montreal game featured several real fights!! And that was just game two of the series. Just think what it will be like if it goes six or seven games? One member of the Bruins finished game one last week with a ruptured spleen--practiced the next two days--then finally went to the hospital for surgery. Meanwhile, over on the NBA side I didn't see a single hard foul on a guy going to the basket or even a hard pick. Maybe they plan to pick up the intensity in games six and seven. Or the fourth quarter of game seven. And how many NBA guys (or fans) would give up shaving for the entire playoffs?
And just how seriously can you take a contest when they continously play music DURING THE PLAY!! Does the NBA realize how boring their product is that they need a little hip hop to keep the fans entertained? I can't remember the last time I heard music during the game in hockey. During the stoppages, waiting for a faceoff yes, during a power play? No way. And especially not "Lady of Spain".
And speaking of fans, you've got to love the passion of puckheads. Philadelphia had the "Orange Out" going yesterday. Pittsburgh had the "Whiteout" going the two games before that--as all of the fans in the arena put on their team colors in a great-looking show of solidarity--which by the way, started in Winnipeg back in the 1980's and has now been copied in the few cities that care about NBA basketball. Los Angeles would not be one of those. Yellow or purple apparently not that big with the Hollywood set. Plenty of empty seats shown on camera at the Staples Center as well. I guess the "real" playoffs don't start until the finals.
There are also upsets in playoff hockey. The top seeded San Jose Sharks are already down love-two to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks. The second seed in the East--Washington--lost its first two at home as well. Eighth seeds have caught fire several times in the NHL Playoffs over the years and made Cinderella runs to the Cup Finals. When was the last time such a thing happened in the NBA? I'm surprised ABC isn't already running promos for the Lakers and the Cavaliers in the Finals.
So don't be afraid to check out the "other playoffs" this spring. I realize that Versus isn't the easiest channel to find on the cable system (Ch 68 on Time Warner)--and that the same three teams get all of the national exposure (Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New York)--but you might like what you see. Sure beats watching the NBA sleepwalk through its most important games.