So Ilast night.
I was out with a crowd of friends at a bar in Watertown and the last quarter of the Cleveland/Detroit game was on. Between speculation as to which upcoming films based on Marvel properties were going to suck (Transformers, probably; Fantastic Four 2, certainly), we watched some postseason basketball.
Things I Still Don’t Like About Basketball:
- The inordinate influence held by one or two players. “Name three Cleveland players other than LeBron James,” a friend observed. I’ll bet all the plays in Mike Brown’s playbook have four squiggles for the other players and a gold star for LeBron.
- The repetitive dynamic of play. The most crucial plays in a game of basketball will alter the score by no more than 3 points for either side; in a 100-point game that’s meaningless. Basketball’s more Mozart than Beethoven – too many notes to follow.
- Courting fouls. As one girl at the table pointed out, Rasheed Wallace is particularly operatic in his play, clutching at wounds real or imagined and shaking his fist at heaven if a foul isn’t called. He’s an understudy for the Fisher Theatre’s production of Twelve Angry Men this fall.
Things I Still Like About Basketball
- It’s anybody’s game. It’s rare for a team to tear away on a 20 or 30-point lead in basketball, and it’s rarer still for them to hold that lead. Basketball’s always competitive. The losers can always mount a comeback. Since, as I’ve said before, the Underdog Pulls Through is the only story worth telling in sports, I have a soft spot for sports where this is always a possibility. Baseball’s one, but only because there’s no clock. And basketball’s another.
- The rules are simple to follow. I regularly get confused with football – what’s a foul when and against whom. I’m better with baseball, but I’m still never 100% on when, during an out, a runner has to tag back to his original base and when he’s allowed to advance. But basketball’s easy. Dribble the ball when you’re moving, stay out of the paint, and don’t hit anyone unless you’re going for the ball (though this may change).
- The inordinate influence held by one or two players. Yeah, I know, I’m contradicting what I just said. Intellectually, I may prefer games where a team is an organic unit of twelve dissimilar pieces, functioning as a whole. But in my gut, I want to keep my eye on One Guy. One big name, one memorable character. And basketball’s all about riding on one man’s shoulders. You’ve got the Larry Bird Celtics, the Michael Jordan Bulls, the Abdul-Jabbar / Johnson Lakers. We all want heroes.
I left at the end of the first OT, so I had to check the news this morning to see who’d won. Like I’ve said, I don’t have a lot invested in basketball – I just want a fun game to watch.
(P.S. Did you know that wasn’t Cleveland’s only win over Detroit that evening? Man, it must suck to live in Detroit this morning. As opposed to every other morning of the year, when it’s a bee-yoo-tiful day)