Friday, June 19, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street #234, June 22, 2009

After Further Review … Whew! The NBA 2008-2009 season is finally over and the Lakers are the CHAMPS ! The interest in professional basketball was at an all-time high with the Orlando Magic in the finals for only the second time in their history.
Since Kevin Garnett (Celtics), “Melo” (Nuggets) and LeBron (Cavs) were not present, the focus was on Dwight (Magic) and, of course, Kobe of the Lakers. These mega-stars, plus many others, are obviously maintaining fan interest. However, several things still are troublesome with the NBA.

First and foremost, the game was designed, and played for years, as a T.E.A.M. sport. Today’s “stars” are certainly just as talented as some of those in the past, yet, when one cites the champions of the past, the team name is mentioned first. In today’s game the fans’ attention seems to focus on individual players – excellent as they may be -- but the T.E.A.M. takes second place. Seldom do you see an NBA team “move the ball around” to get the best open shot. Too often, it’s just cast-away, hope that it goes in and if it doesn’t, fall back and play defense. Should the NBA move the 3-point arc to 26 or 27 feet so that a team must work together for the best open shot?

Second, maybe they should raise the basket to 12 feet, which has been suggested in past years. When the rules changed some 30+ years ago to allow the “dunk,” the game of basketball became an “above-the-rim” game. Raise the basket and it becomes a different game.

Third, refereeing the NBA game is the most difficult of all officiating. TNT’s Charles Barkley (2006 NBA Hall of Famer) said, “It’s terrible officiating. They’ve been stinking the whole playoffs.” May I suggest, Sir Charles, that the officiating issues lie with the rules and the interpretation thereof, not with the officials. When you allow players to shuffle their size 15+ Nikes (called “traveling”) to balance themselves for a “slam dunk” or “carry” the ball (called “palming”) -- plus the allowance of aggressive physical contact -- you can easily see how the game has become harder to officiate. Finally, today’s players seem to want to draw attention more to their appearance than the stars of the past. Almost every NBA player feels it necessary to adorn himself with tattoos. Yes, I know tattoos are “in” and today’s younger generation loves them; but why does an NBA player need that kind of attention?

Will you watch the NBA for the individual ‘showmanship’ or the game of basketball to be played as a T.E.A.M. sport?

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