Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Why I might once again watch the NBA

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 20, 2008

Last night I spent my evening at the Pepsi Center, watching the Denver Nuggets host the Boston Celtics.  It’s not necessarily rare for me to attend an NBA game, but over the years, my interest in the NBA has generally declined compared to what it was in the mid-90s.  One reason for this is my interest in the college game has increased during that time, plus I rapidly became more of a fan of the NHL than the NBA.  I think a large part of my decline in NBA interest is the way ESPN continually shoves it down my throat whether I want to hear about it at that moment or not, and I have simulataneously come to resent the network’s lack of coverage of the NHL.  There isn’t one reason in particular for my NBA interest waning, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the college game more.  There seems to be more team play, less emphasis on superstars (especially stars getting calls from officials), and certainly a more fun atmosphere in which to attend a game.  Half the time I would attend a Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center, and it seemed like a great environment for a nap.  Conversely, every college game I went to at Mizzou was a great atmosphere, even if they were playing some no name Division II school.

Now I don’t mean to imply that I stopped following the Nuggets altogether.  I’ve rooted for them and followed them as much as any of the other teams in this city.  In fact I’m probably one of the few that can say they attended at least 10 games during the memorable 1997-98 season when they threatened the worst record in league history, finishing 11-71.  I’m simply saying my interest over last 5 years or so doesn’t compare to what it was in the mid-90s.  That being said, what I saw last night gave me a feeling I hadn’t experienced at an NBA game in quite some time.  There was actual excitement in the crowd, much like a playoff atmosphere or dare I say it a college atmosphere.  There was quality play on both sides, and I’m not talking about three guys standing around observing the action while one guy posts up.  I’m talking actual team play, guys actually moving without the ball!  There were even signs of actual, genuine defense!  This is the NBA basketball I had remembered growing up, when the games were fast paced, exciting, and often times featured thrilling finishes.  It seemed like the game had evolved into a slow fest, where everything was one on one and traveling was seemingly allowed if you were considered a star. 

Last night the Nuggets didn’t win because of the effort of one or two guys, although it certainly helped that their star players Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson combined for 57 points.  Those two also combined for 14 rebounds and 13 assists, meaning they were interested in things other than scoring points for themselves.  They got nine (NINE!) blocked shots from Marcus Camby, who came oh so close to a triple double, and everyone on the bench contributed.  After last night’s win against the best team from the east, the Nuggets are 33-20, which is a very good record.    Thing is, it’s only good enough for 8th place right now in the Western Conference, and that’s what really piqued my interest in how the rest of the season could unfold.  There are so many good teams in the west, that it’s shaping up to be an amazing race.  The Nuggets record would be good enough for a three seed if they were in the Eastern Conference, but there are enough good teams in the west that it will be a dogfight simply for them to make the playoffs. 

At the top of the conference there are six teams within two games of one another: New Orleans (which has to be the surprise this year), Phoenix (having just acquired Shaq), the Lakers (who just swung a deal for big man Pau Gasol, a trade that may have more impact than Shaq going to Phoenix), Utah (which is quietly and consistently good), San Antonio (the defending champs) and Dallas (having just made a big splash by acquiring Jason Kidd).  Just two games behind that group you have Houston (owning one of the game’s best duos in Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming), Golden State (playoff darling from last year and only getting better) and the Nuggets.  If you do that math, that’s nine teams with enough talent to win the conference, all of whom are better than a majority of the eastern playoff teams, and only 8 playoff spots to divvy up.  That will shape up for a very exciting last few months of the season,  and that’s first time I can remember using the word exciting to describe the NBA in many years.  It should lead up to a playoff year that will be very interesting, a year in which there will not be much difference, if there is one, between any of the 8 teams in the western bracket.  Any of the first round matchups in the west will be a toss up, and seeds will have to be ignored with this much talent among all the teams.  It’s not enough yet that I would readily watch an NBA game over a college game, or possibly even an NHL game assuming I can find one on my TV, but I won’t be as likely to completely ignore an NBA game if I happen to scroll past one.  The bottom line is if what I saw last night at the Pepsi Center is any indication, I just may find myself watching more NBA games than I had planned on in the coming months. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: