If the World Series goes the distance, Game 7 will feature the American and National League champions battling nine innings to claim baseball’s ultimate prize. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will build up the game to giant proportions, and FOX’s production will pull out all the stops. The final game in a topsy turvy season will captivate the imagination of sports fans across America. It will be talked about the next day in offices, bars, doctors’ waiting rooms, synagogues. Game Seven will be an event.
That same day the San Antonio Spurs, the most successful sports franchise of the past decade, receive their championship rings and raise their fourth banner in nine years. You are not likely to watch this game, nor will the vast majority of your friends. The presence of those darn Spurs will almost certainly produce a basketball game in a vacuum. It’s not just them, either.
The National Basketball Association is suffering through its worst slump since the drug-scandalized malaise of the late 1970s. NBA Finals games then aired on tape delay opposite infomericals. The league was known for a series of surly, unlikable “stars” such as Rick Barry, Moses Malone, and even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (It took a few pictures and the untimely destruction of Bill Walton’s career to make the Big Fella heroic.) Even the ABA’s sunny vibes evaporated and the NBA’s rival folded, with only four franchises surviving. Kermit Washington’s ghastly punch and David Thompson’s cocaine laced high-flying were some of the league’s lasting images. The base problem is an issue the league still wrestles with, marketing a black man’s league to white America. David Stern has worn a mighty crown during his quarter century as Commissioner, but no doubt in the last five years he has had more than one sweat-soaked nightmare at that vision.
And how terrifyingly real this vision is. Read More