Thursday, June 3, 2010

Curmudgeon Alert!

Today I officially join the ranks of those who believe that "Everything was better when I was a kid." The start of the NBA Finals tonight has me thinking about the Lakers-Celtics series from the 1980's--and how any of the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird teams would mop up the floor with the two title contestants this year.

I was really hoping that NBA TV would have shown all of those classic Finals games featuring Bird and Magic and their three epic duels from that era this week. Unfortunately, we got none of that. Maybe the league-owned network was too embarrassed by what basketball has become today to put up such high quality stuff from its past.

Sure the kids today would laugh at the short-shorts and the mullets and Kurt Rambis's nerd glasses and Kareem's goggles. But maybe they would learn a thing or two about dribbling without carrying the ball every time--and about passing the ball more than twice before putting up a shot--or post moves that aren't limited to just backing down your man and shooting a fall away jumper.

If you ever get a chance to catch some of the Classic NBA games you will likely be reminded of just how great the sport was--when it was actually about the sport. There was no music on the PA system while play was going on. Now, it's almost like the music never stops--lest the fans (or maybe the players) get bored. There was no "High Energy Dance Team" (yes you had the Laker Girls but even their outfits look like 1950's cheerleader stuff compared to today's "Sportsbras are acceptable shirts" attitude) and the players were introduced to the crowd with the lights on and no laser and smoke shows.

I was part of the generation of sports fans that helped elevate the NBA from the second-rate sport that had its Finals shown on tape-delay in the early 80's to the hottest thing in the world by the end of the decade. But the Association lost me and many others when it sold itself out to the marketing of Michael Jordan. No longer was it about the teams or even the quality of the game itself--it was all about selling shoes and Gatorade and movies about basketball in space. Unfortunately, little has changed since then--as we continue to have LeBron James shoved down our throats--despite the fact he has won ZERO championships.

Will I watch the Finals games the next couple of weeks? Sure--even though they start way too late for someone who gets to work at 3:00 in the morning. But don't expect me to think that these two teams are "great" in any way.

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