Basketball was my first sports love, and I’ll always have a soft spot for it. The first sporting event I ever attended was a Celtics/Pistons playoff game in the spring of 1987. There’s a very clear delineation when it comes to my favorite sports. In reverse order, there’s “everything else”, a huge gap, football, baseball, a GINORMOUS gap, and then basketball. I spent much of my childhood reading books about Magic and Kareem. I continue to play basketball myself (on occasion) despite the fact that I have the athletic ability of a rhino. Hell, I read Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball in one sitting! OK, it was a very LONG sitting. If I’m doing something else and miss a Giants game or a Yankee game (not that they run too frequently here in Boston), I’m a little irritated. If I miss a Celtics game (yes, I’ve become a Cs fan. I’m a bandwagon jumper. Blow me.), I’m pissed.
However, the recent NBA lockout (which is allegedly over…it appears that a resolution has been reached and the season will start on Christmas Day…oh, the ratings!) has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. This isn’t the first time in recent years that a work stoppage/lockout has affected the NBA. The last one was just over a decade ago (the last year the Knicks were in the Finals…*sniff*…) I can’t really remember much about how I felt at the time. I didn’t have cable TV (actually, I may not have had a TV at ALL), nor did I have the internet, so all of my sports news was coming from a newspaper. There was a bit of a detachment. This time around, with a little more of an investment and a little bit of age (and the attendant crankiness), I’m a little pissed.
Granted, I don’t know the specifics of the dispute between the owners and the players, so maybe I’m not the best informed to discuss this. Nevertheless, I know this. The average NBA player (to say nothing of the average NBA owner or executive, or commisioner/HWIC David Stern) makes more money than I (or the average American) will ever make in my lifetime. Dave said it best in his Aging Hip Replacement column from earlier this week. Why should we have any sympathy, or even support these people? America is suffering through it’s worst economic period in 80 years, people are losing jobs left and right, and I wonder how the people who were REALLY affected by the work stoppage-the lower paid team and venue employees-dealt with the prospect that their job was in suspension. It just seems…selfish. And it makes me wonder why I should continue to put money in the players’ and owners’ pockets when many, if not most of them couldn’t give a fuck about the common man whose support is required in order for them to continue living the lifestyles they live.
I have these crises of conscience pretty often, as you’d probably expect from someone who lives quite a bit inside his own head. Last time I had a crisis akin to this was a few months ago after Tracy Morgan made those ridiculously homophobic comments on stage. At that point, I seriously wondered if I’d feel right watching “30 Rock” again (and my disappointment was complicated by the fact that I’d at one point encountered Tracy in person on a reasonably regular basis.) Of course, it isn’t hard to avoid “30 Rock” seeing as it’s on hiatus, but I found myself watching a rerun of it last night just because there was nothing else on TV, and I didn’t change the station. The episode was funny, but I felt a twinge of guilt because by watching the show, I’m sort of giving silent consent to this jackass to continue acting like a loon. Is that silly? Part of me thinks I’m ultimately just doing myself a disservice-my potential boycott of “30 Rock” (or the NBA, or anything) is not gonna stop it from surviving or even thriving (although work stoppages have dealt pretty major blows to other professional sports and they’ve taken years to recover.) Plenty of folks out there are just happy to have basketball back, and they’re either not gonna think about what led to the season’s delay at all or they’re going to ignore it. By going back, am I a sheep? By going back, are we all sheep? At what point do we make a stand for things we believe in or tuck our tails in between our legs and rejoin the herd? I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I’d say it’s very likely that I, along with millions of other people, will be tuned in to the NBA once the season resumes in a month or so. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over the guilt.