The Trouble With NBA Critics

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - March 30, 2005
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There seems to be a conspiracy afloat. It’s targeting a specific business. Putting it on the list with McDonald’s and Coke as examples of everything that is wrong with the world. Showy, no convictions, only concerned with the bottom dollar, boring. That’s business in a nutshell, and why should the NBA be any different?

The truth hardly matters. The fate of the league has already been written by a horde of scribes and opinion potentates who take pleasure at turning their nose up at the pro game.

It’s like people who love to spout their hatred for television because of its lack of family programming, but ignore the fact that we no longer have to wait for the once-a-week showing of Wild Kingdom to get our nature fix.

The purpose here is not to defend the NBA. Far from it. You’ll get no argument of which game is better. In college, the game is still played with passion by athletes who realize this is the end of the line. They set screens, hit the mid-range jumper, go to class and hope for a job with decent benefits to support a future family. Yes, Boston, New York and L.A. certainly have their fanatical supporters who cram into ever more costly seats to loudly support their teams. But in no way can any of those venues compare with Cameron, Rupp Arena or The Pitt.

College basketball is the superior game, but to completely ignore the NBA is to ape film snobs who feel it’s more intellectually correct to sit through 17 films of gay cowboys eating pudding at their local indie film festival than it is to witness a quality product just because it came from a major Hollywood studio.

Much of the disgust for the NBA comes from the disappointing showing in the World Championships and Olympics. We kept hearing how the teams didn’t care enough to win, but that wasn’t the truth. The reason they failed is because the world is catching up and it’s stupid and arrogant to think a group of individuals is going to beat a quality team. The real fault lies with USA Basketball, which was too afraid to construct a squad made of complementary players. That being said, the players are not without blame.

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case was a low point. The dismantling of the Lakers, Ron Artest’s reaction to a plastic cup, Latrell Sprewell’s complaining about feeding his family on $14 million — all these recent events have tarnished the league. But since the NBA is made up of the very best college basketball and foreign lands have to offer, there has to be some good.

Look, no matter what happens, the haters will still take pleasure in sticking pins into the league. They’ll complain that the style of play has regressed to dunks, three pointers and isolation plays. They whine because the only thing that matters is self-glorification and the constant search for highlight material, but at same time complain how boring it is watching Detroit and San Antonio.

Let’s be honest. If we were really disgusted with the me-first approach of the pros and are desperate to embrace athletes who play for “the true love of the game,” we would ignore all sport beyond the NAIA level.

One more thing. Isn’t it about time Derek Tatsuno’s number on the left field wall at Les Murakami Stadium be replaced with one you can actually read? The greatest player to ever put on a Rainbow uniform deserves much more than a fading reminder of his legacy.

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