Saturday, March 01, 2008


I have a confession to make - I'm kind of curious how the Suns fare with their acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal.

I also find myself wondering if trading for Jason Kidd is what the Mavericks need to get to the next level.

In other words, I'm kind of/sort of caring about the NBA again. This is a weird phenomenon. So sit back, relax, because this explanation might take a while.

I used to love the NBA. Back in the late '80's, early-to-mid-'90's (aka "when I was a member of the NBA's target demographic"), I loved the NBA, and I loved the Knicks. I was heartbroken when the Knicks lost a Game 7 to the Bulls in 1992 on my confirmation day, and then the following year when Charles Smith couldn't make a layup. (That series, though, produced the poster of "The Dunk" which you see at left. Any true Knicks fan will tell you the poster doesn't capture the situation depth-wise, and that John Starks is really dunking more on Michael Jordan than Horace Grant. And Patrick Ewing did not push B.J. Armstrong. I had this poster on my bedroom wall until I left for college.)

In 1994, the Knicks lost the championship to the Rockets, and I was devastated. Then, in 1995, I was working right outside Madison Square Garden, listening to Game 7 against the Pacers, listening on the radio as Ewing missed a layup as time expired. I have yet to see video of that play. And I distinctly remember thinking that night, as disappointed fans filed past the store without walking in, that I had to care less about the NBA - the losses were driving me nuts.

It's not that I wasn't as gung-ho about the other sports, but at this time the Mets were awful, the Rangers had won their championship so they were in a grace period, and the Jets were god-awful (that's one step more awful than the Mets). So I cared less about the Knicks. I followed them through college - I distinctly remember reading all about when Patrick Ewing would return from his broken wrist on as the playoffs started that year - but I mostly fed off my friends' enthusiasm for the NBA. I hardly cared about the Knicks' appearance in the Finals in 1999.

I blamed a lot of this on the lockout, and I still feel that I took some of my pent-up baseball strike aggression out on the NBA. I lost even more interest after the strip-club scandal in which Ewing's name was dragged through the mud, and other unflattering allegations about him came forward. And I never really got over the Marv Albert thing - and I associate him with the NBA more than anything else.

So here we are in 2008, and I'm dipping my toe back in the water. The interesting thing about the NBA is that I now have no rooting interests in any team whatsoever. There are no teams I love, and there are no teams I really hate. My scars from the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers have healed. Ironically, the team I root against the most these days is the Isiah Thomas-led Knicks. There has been a lot of excitement about the Celtics in these parts. While I can never bring myself to flat-out root for the Celtics, I was intrigued enough earlier this year to tune into the final minutes of a Pistons-Celtics matchup. And I watched the end of the All-Star Game. But I couldn't tell you who is in first place in what division. I probably couldn't even tell you what teams are in what division.

I still haven't watched a full game in years. But should I? What kind of a person does that make me, if I go back on my principles like that? And is it really a principle, not caring about the NBA? What if I cared only a little? The baseball regular season needs to start fast so I'll forget all about this.

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