I grew up in North Carolina where college basketball is king. When I was eight I watched Christian Laettner hit the famous turnaround jumper off a three-quarter court inbound to beat Kentucky and send Duke to the Final Four. A year later I remember watching the 1993 NCAA finals pitting North Carolina against Michigan’s fab five. Rasheed Wallace, Dante Calabria, Eric Montross, Jerry Stackhouse, Bobby Hurly, Grant Hill. Cherokee Parks for God’s sake. Those are all names and experiences that are etched in my sports memory. However, I also remember “The Hive.” Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Kendall Gill, the Super Hornet, Grandmama, React Juice, and Charlotte Hornets Starter jackets. Thus, the NBA is king in my world and I will miss it this season.
I may get crucified for posting this on a website in NC, but the NBA is simply a better product. If you get a rise out of the excitement of college basketball, the regional rivalries, and the Cinderella story I can respect that. But a 45-40 outcome is not exactly entertaining. Excitement doesn’t validate quality.
College ball can get frustrating quickly. In fact, sometimes it resembles middle school girls basketball. Overgrown dudes are crammed into a smaller perimeter. People are falling down on every possession. Missed layups and free throws are annoyingly common.
I like to watch guys knock down open jumpers regularly and shoot above 50 percent from the foul line. I like to watch power matchups and defenders choosing the lesser of two evils. The NBA game is wide open making closeouts harder and more important. The shot clock forces uptempo play. Only the best can operate an NBA offense at such a frenetic pace.
With the NBA toiling in a labor dispute I understand that fans will be turned away. But you have to view these situations from a business perspective. Most NBA franchises are losing money and any smart business person knows that’s not a desirable position in which to operate. I’ve made the argument about the frustration of watching millionaires and billionaires squabble over money but I no longer support that claim. The amount of money is irrelevant, it’s all about the percentages. Neither the players nor the owners should be victimized because their field of endeavor is worth that much. It’s capitalism at its best which I’m pretty sure most Americans prefer. In the end, the fans make it as profitable as it is.
I’d like to think I’m not the only one who will miss the NBA this year. I hope they get the dispute figured out soon but I guess I’ll settle for the Queen in the interim. Or maybe just spend the winter honing my NHL knowledge.
Alec Campbell (Follow me on Twitter @AlecTheDon)