Desperate NBA Fans
As Mike Wise points out in his column today, the NBA Finals have been as much fun as a poke in the eye. The Spurs appear to be poised for a sweep, which would be merciful for all involved, particularly the viewers. About halfway through the second quarter I already had the itch to check out CSPAN. The NBA has a problem when the outcome of its premier event is less uncertain than the outcome of whatever's showing on the History Channel. (It's a matter of public record that, as early as '41, I predicted the Allies would win in 6.)
Wise's column strikes an ominous note about the NBA's future, what with a lockout looming. I confess I don't know what the labor fuss is about. Money, maybe? Even if there's a lockout and some of the next season gets lost, the NBA looks pretty golden long-term: No other major American sport has so successfully merchandised itself to the world, or gotten so many international stars to add razzle dazzle to its rosters. (Serious blog-watchers recall that the Pistons-Heat series led the Mexico City sports section when I was there last week.) You can bet everyone in Argentina is watching every dribble, feint, juke, leap, and reverse triple-axel lay-up by Manu Ginobili. With Yao Ming playing in Houston, the NBA has more than a billion potential fans in China. And in the U.S., basketball remains a favorite schoolkid sport from the inner city to the Indiana cornfields. Women's basketball is growing at the college and pro level. Soon we ought to have a Senior NBA League. Bring back Walt Frazier! I'd pay to see another sky hook from Kareem. Particularly this week.
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