just procrastinating

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Basketball Drama
I like the tone of this article in Slate by Ben Mathis-Lilley about the NBA melee last week. Everything is such a big deal to these sports journalists. Seeing Bob Costas looking dour and disgusted on the Today show about something as silly as a little fracas in the stands, and then extrapolating that into the downfall of the NBA and, soon afterwards, civilization itself, is a bit of stretch.
Immediately after the brawl, the talking heads on ESPN's NBA Shootaround all said that disgusted fans would stop watching NBA games in droves. At this exact moment, millions of people were talking, probably for the first time in history, about a regular season NBA game. Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee wrote that "drastic and perhaps even draconian" measures were now required to salvage the NBA's image. But this once-in-a-lifetime brawl has, quite obviously, increased fan interest in the league. The fight was still the lead item on the local news last night—and I live in Brooklyn. When was the last time you remember your co-workers, your parents—anyone except Bill Walton—talking about the NBA in November?

Rather than acknowledge that the brawl was a freak occurrence—and a funny one to boot—the sports commentariat have heralded the apocalypse and rapturously praised NBA Commissioner David Stern's predictably harsh suspensions. Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wrote that the fight "was more than just a black eye. It was Stern's Black Sox scandal." No, this was his Disco Demolition Night. Not that I disagree with Sterns's actions, or think that the players or fans behaved admirably. (Except for the clown; he is a hero.) Stern wasn't "a great commissioner when we needed him to be," as Lupica wrote, just a competent one. The fans drank too much and made a scene and Stern made a sanctimonious speech about how society is in decline. That's it.
Well put.

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