Friday, April 2, 2010

The NBA has become Pro Wrestling

Once upon a time, long ago, in Santa Barbara, I had a wonderful experience that would prove to be formative moment in my development as a sports fan. Magic Johnson was in town, and he brought a whole team of ex-NBA stars to play an exhibition game for professional basketball deprived Santa Barbarians. It was a fantastic game - there were top college prospects and old pros trading baskets and increasingly difficult shots. The game came down to a final play. The details are fuzzy, but I remember the moment the game ended with absolute clarity. Magic made his patented hook shot with time running out. Interestingly, he made this shot from half court.

What really intrigued me, though, and what intrigues me to this day, is that there was no way that ball was going to careen off the edge of that basket. It was going in; there was no doubt about that. So, why didn't Magic take this half-court shot all the time? Clearly, he could make it often, with reasonable certainty. Wouldn't a half-court hook shot be an amazing weapon to have in your arsenal? Yet, that was the only time I saw Magic use this shot.

"No really, I NEVER make this shot. Pure luck"

This leads me to my current assertion. The NBA is fake. I love it. I love watching the current Lakers team, with the uber-clumsy but effective Pau Gasol toss in hook shots like it's the first time he's touched a basketball.

"I'm so big and sexy and Spanish"

But it's fake. I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you this. So, "what's your proof that the NBA is fake?" you are probably asking me right now. Let me explain, like a Spaniard would.

1) Let us begin with the obvious: The refs are crooked. Most of us who have watched any amount of NBA games over the past few years knew this, so we weren't at all surprised by the Tim Donaghy adventure. If you watched the Spurs-Suns series last year, you knew something was rotten in the state of Arizona. Poor little white Canadian Steve Nash's bloody nose was one of the most pathetic sights in NBA history, and it was compounded by the fact that it was the result of yet another dirty ass play by the leagues dirtiest team, the San Antonio Spurs (more on their terrible "contributions" to the current state of the NBA later).

"Some body's going to do something about Robert Horry, right?"

2) Dunks. Why aren't there more of them? It's clear that most of these guys are tall enough and athletic enough to dunk on almost every play, yet they are a relative rarity. Sometimes, you'll see a player dunk with little or no effort, and then on the next play, this same exactly player will miss an awkward two-foot hook shot. This makes no sense. It's almost like David Stern has one of those collars from the beginning of The Running Man around every NBA player's neck. If you dunk too often - POP! There goes your head. And all your endorsements.

"I don't have to jump to dunk, but it looks more realistic when I do"

3) Free Throws. This one boggles the mind. How do professional basketball players ever average less than 80% on free throws. They're free. Any kid can spend a few months shooting baskets outside his house and get up to 80% on his free throw percentage. That's why I am absolutely dumbfounded when players like Shaq struggle their entire careers to get over 50%. You are telling me that Chipper Jones is batting .400 and yet there are professional basketball players that can't make 4 out of 10 free throws? Nonsense.

"If you can't make free throws, you deserve to lose at life"

4) Exaggerated Arguing/Flopping/Fouling. I had to combine these all into one category, but I think everyone knows what I mean. Sarah can't stand basketball because, in her words "THEY ARE ALL A BUNCH OF WHINY PUSSIES!" (Sarah is a Packers fan. In her eyes, basketball players are primadonas who couldn't hold Brett Farve's jockstrap.) So, this is where the Spurs come in. Have you ever seen Tim Duncan's eyes when he's called for a foul? They are practically lunar. Have you ever seen Bruce Bowen or Manu Ginobili flop to the ground for no apparent reason other than they just got burned on their defensive assignment? (If your answer is no, just watch a Spurs game for more than three minutes) And then there's my favorite - The Mystery Foul. No one knows why it was called. There weren't any players even close to the ball. The other team just got mugged on the other end of the court. Yet, there's that whistle. No rhyme or reason - almost as if the refs are working on commission, and need to call one more foul so they can buy that jet ski they've had their eyes on.

5) Travelling. It happens on every play. Also randomly called at times.

"Hey refs! Do this more often!"

6) The dagger in the heart of the legitimacy of the NBA is the Harlem Globetrotters. Have you seen what they can do to the Washington Generals? I say put them in the NBA, and they'll win all 82 games. Kobe ain't got nothing on Reece "Goose" Tatum.

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