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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.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 13, 2005; 7:49 AM ET
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Manu Ginoble this, Manu Ginoble that. Tim Duncan this, Tim Duncan that. Wall-to-wall Spurs coverage--front-page stories, all types of columnizing and blather on the sports pages. Lots and lots of journalistic ink. All in the San Antonio Express-News, a Hearst newspaper.

Lots of runaway bride stories when the story was hot. Lots of Michael Jackson trial coverage. One story mentioning the Downing Street Memo on Wednesday, June 8, buried on page 8A, written by Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder. Not a local op-ed to be found, nor a letter to the editor about the Downing Street Memo? Our government does what again, you say?

How terribly sad. The days of the Roman bread and circus have truly arrived in the Alamo City.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2005 8:02 AM | Report abuse

It's everywhere, Anonymous.

I read the newspaper every day, and I always start by noting what is the top headline, the banner, above the fold news that the wise editors at the Miami Herald have decided is today's most important information for their readers. It really makes me sick when that is a sports story. My husband and I always make fun of the paper for putting games at the top of the priority reading. There is a Sports Section for a reason, people!

Joel, for you I have to say, I respect that you are interested in sports and I enjoy anything you write about, but you can see the readers and commenters of this blog get more worked up over the philosophy of Ayn Rand or the theory of relativity than they do about the NBA/NFL/NCAA or the future of Women's College Badminton. Or American Idol, for that matter. Your Select 15 are not big tv watchers.

Great Rough Draft column this week--I read it out loud to my family and everybody loved it.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 13, 2005 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Someone send me a list of topics that I should be covering in this blog. As for Downing Street Memo, etc., Anonymous is free to discuss that memo to his/her heart's content. People can write anything they want in this space, so long as it is not obscene or hateful.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 13, 2005 8:28 AM | Report abuse

OK, don't send a list. See if I care.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 13, 2005 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Joel, here's your darn list:

1. I read this blog to see what you're thinking. Ummm, so I think that means anything you are thinking is fair game as a topic and beyond reproach (but I reserve the right to mock you anyway, okay?)
2. The European Disunion
3. Other writers / bloggers (e.g. What's your take on DeLong, or Postrel, or that instapundit guy?)
4. Is Iraq just too hot for you to handle? I would really like to hear your thoughts there. Ok, how about just Syria, Iran, or NK?
5. Admit it, the Spurs are awesome. For anyone who loves basketball, but gets tired of the selfish antics of most NBA stars, the Spurs are awesome. They can never get as clean cut as the Admiral, alas, but the Duncan cool is immortal.

If you decide on a new editorial policy that forbids popular topics that don't involve lives hanging in the balance such as Sports, Movies, Style, the nature of humor, etc, please make an exception: the politics of personal destruction ala Clinton, Delay, etc -- those are too juicy to pass up. We need our priorities.

P.S. Is there a housing bubble? Wouldn't it be cool if there was a source at the Federal Reseve that you could use? Call him "Deep Froth"

Posted by: Kane | June 13, 2005 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Well, how can you mention any sports and then NOT talk about "those Nats" Man, they are hotter than the school picnic! They have inspired a city! With no big "stars" and very low expectations, they are leading their division and just swept three series in a row! Wow! And *I'm* a girl!

Posted by: imalocal | June 13, 2005 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Ideally there would be no limits to the topics discussed on this blog. I like to think that we are Renaissance men and women. (Besides, we are quite capable of turning any topic around to suit our own purposes.)

Posted by: Dreamer | June 13, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I'll do the Nats at some point. I believe in the Nats. They got some kind of mojo going.
Mr. Kane, as for my opinion on Iraq, it's not that it's too hot to handle, it's that I'm not sure my opinion on Iraq would add a great deal to the debate. Just between us, I think Iraq represents the greatest blunder by an Administration since Vietnam. I thought Bush 41 and Powell created a rather immaculate template for a military campaign with Desert Storm, which had very specific and obtainable objectives. Neocons hated the fact that they left Saddam in power, but Bush 41 and Powell seemed to know that the worst thign you can do when you are sending American troops into battle is to have no firm grasp of how the war might end. It was bad enough that WMD turned out to be essentially a hoax; but to send in troops, contractors, state department folks etc. without giving them the resources or the blueprint for success was reckless. That's what I think, very briefly. But you can read that almost anywhere. I have no special expertise on this subject. I'm not even sure I have as much expertise as the average person reading this blog. In general I don't do a lot of politics because the blogosphere is so heavily saturated in politics. I dislike that echo-chamber feel of blogs that are camped on the Left or the Right: I'd rather have a blog where all sorts of people wander in and out, from all political persuasions, and if they get in a big fight, all the better.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 13, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

No topic should be off limits EXCEPT politics. You're right, Joel, there are SO many of those blogs out there that talk only politics, ad nauseam. Stay irreverent ...or maybe irrelevant? ha, ha, whatever.

Posted by: jlessl | June 13, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

how do we know when Joel posts a comment, or someone just put Achenbach into the name field when submitting their comment???? are we on an honor system?? does the blog not allow the name to be Achenbach unless you are really Joel??

this is really stressing me.

Posted by: not Achenbach | June 13, 2005 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I can delete a fake Achenbach. No one has tried to pull that stunt so far.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 13, 2005 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm still sad the Suns aren't in it. Even though Joel said they were last week. So I'm not paying attention to the playoffs all that much anymore. I'm bitter. Young and bitter.

Posted by: Sara | June 14, 2005 9:21 AM | Report abuse

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