Monday, June 14, 2010

The case against basketball

Waka Waka! This time for Africa. The first games of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, with true world participation, are behind us. The important results in our household: Argentina won against Nigeria and USA equalized with England. The best game so far was Serbia - Ghana.

At the same time, the Los Angeles Lakers were trying to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston against the Celtics. I caught the last 1:15 minutes of the game. And somehow felt that I hadn't missed much. I used to play several years basketball in high school in Belgium. I followed the NBA closely. We were all big fans of Magic and Bird. I even got a small backpack from the LA Lakers, a rarity at the time in Belgium. So how did my enthusiasm dwindle for the big NBA teams? Especially now that I live in the US, with easy access to watch the games on television, or even watch the Golden State Warriors in person at the Oakland coliseum.

My admiration for the game still exists, especially for a well executed pick-n-roll, a fast break or a full court press. However, it is the flow of the game which makes the game less attractive for me. (Unless of course you are playing in the game.)

This is not a soccer game where anything can happen any time, so you better don't miss it. The same is true for the america's favorite pass time: baseball. What is often heralded as excitement is actually the contrary: a high scoring basketball game can be more boring that watching a bowler throw strike after strike.

You only have to watch the first 2 minutes and the last 2 minutes of a basketball game to catch the excitement or lack thereof. Either the game is close and it will be decided over a 10 minute period during which the 2 minute game clock is stretched by time outs and fouls. Where's the excitement in that? Or the game is long been decided and one team was obviously the better of the other, and you didn't miss anything either.

NBA games need a little more unpredictability, like the NCAA basketball tournament. Until then, I'll be waking up early to catch The Netherlands beat Denmark tomorrow morning in South Africa. Waka Waka!