Friday, June 6, 2008
The Quicker Fixer Upper
When I got this issue of SI at the crib some months ago I took it as the NBA and the media pretty much planting its flag in the ground and predicting not only who they wanted to see in the Finals, but fugg it, who they were sending there.
While watching last night's game, I couldn't help but to feel shafted. Well, not shafted, because this is obviously going to be a great series. I guess its better to say I felt had. This whole thing seems fixed and planned to me. Hear me out...
Ever since the "Hip Hop generation" "infiltrated" the NBA with tatoos, legal issues, baggy clothes and on-court brawls, people and random fat bastids in the media have been going on and on about how the NBA as a product is going down the tubes. I myself have never really had an issue with the NBA's image. I watch the game, not all the other shit that goes on around it.
The only problems I've had with the league in recent years is when they try to force feed me pop culture during the games, timeouts and halftimes. I like to look at the ladies as much as the next man, but got damn though...watching basketball is how I escape seeing the Eva Longoria's and Beyonce's of the world. Please leave me be. Judging from how Philly fans booed the hell out of Destiny's Child at the 2001 Finals, I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Also, the only other problem I've had is with the influx of high school players they were just letting in. I've never been on the side where I thought it was cool to tell an 18-year that he can't come in the league. I mean, if you can enlist in the Army and get shot at, got dammit, you can shoot a basketball. But as a fan of the game, I started getting tired of seeing high school players get drafted and pretty much get on-the-job training. When I tune into a game, I don't want to see teenagers learning how to play, I want to see grown ass men hooping.
But yeah, anyways...people were complaining about the product the NBA was putting on the court. That's why they hyped up Lebron, Melo and them. To try and get casual fans to realize that Michael Jordan (the good one at least), Magic and Larry Bird was not walking through that door.
Then last year, the NBA hit two major lows...
The 2007 NBA Finals was the worst ever. That shit was boring as hell. You had the slow ass Spurs going against the fluke Cavaliers. I don't care how good Lebron is, even he couldn't save that trainwreck of a series. I think they said it had the lowest television ratings ever.
Then, in the off-season, amidst the steroids hunt in baseball and the NFL's struggles with player conduct, the NBA found itself embroiled in a corrupt referee scandal. All that was gonna do was chase fans away in the same vein that baseball and now football was alienating theirs.
Horrible Finals + Corrupt Referee Scandal = OH SHIT! WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SHIT...NOW!
What was that something?
Well, the first was that lopsided Kevin Garnett trade. The Celtics traded 5 players ranging from aight to expendable, cash and two first round draft picks to the Timberwolves for perhaps the fiercest competitor in the game. That's alot going on, hell, my brother told me when he tried to do that shit on NBA Live to update his rosters, the game wouldn't even let him do it. People tried to act like the fact that Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale and Celtics GM Danny Ainge used to be teammates didn't have anything to do with it, whatever man. If that's not back scratching, I don't know what is.
The other something was another lopsided trade. Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies to the Lakers for 4 players and two draft picks. Once again, this shit would not fly on the Xbox.
Both of these are virtually the same trade. Add that to the Celts picking up Ray Allen and the Lakers picking up Derek Fisher and you have all the makings of two superteams on a collision course to the championship. Thus, you have a Lakers vs. Celtics Finals for the first time in 21 years.
And man, let me tell you, the NBA is milking this cow until its bone dry. All season I've seen old Celtic clips of Bill Russel, Larry Bird and Bob Cousy. Shied, I even saw a "I Am A Celtic" special on ESPN halfway into the season. They also showed that Garnett Gatorade commercial on every timeout. Why did they do all of that?
I mean, if the NBA was hell bent on walking us back through the 80s, why didn't they promote the Pistons more? I mean, if they can show Garnett and Russell talking to each other, why not Chauncy Billups and Isiah Thomas or Rasheed Wallace and Rick Mahorn? I mean, I know why persay, but still. They could have made their intentions less obvious don't you think?
Then, when I was watching the game last night, they did the little Playoffs Split-Face thing with Magic and Bird. OH CMON! Can we stop with the jock-riding already. I mean, appreciate nostalgia too. But what if this turned out to be a Pistons-Spurs Finals. Do you think they would done the same with Bob Lanier and George Gervin? Hell naw.
Too make this long story short, I think this year's match-up is fixed. Re-creating a Lakers vs. Celtics Finals is just what the doctor ordered. The NBA needed a popularity boost among casual fans old enough to be at least familiar with the rivalry and baby-boomers who remember every detail of it. Those my friends are the fans with the money and power. These young whipper-snappers cheering for LeBron and Iverson don't hold any rank. Plus, people like to be reminded of the good ol' days. People are pissed off right now, they want something to remind them of better days. For some, the days of Magic vs. Bird or even the days of Russell, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek, conjure up images of a better life and better times.
I'm telling you, that's what the NBA is doing with this series. They've created a reality fantasy for all of those who want to enjoy the ride. And oh yeah, get money, boost sales, increase ratings and look good in the process.