There are several reasons watching a college basketball game is a more exciting experience than watching a game in the NBA, especially when it comes to the NBA’s regular season contests.
I really want to love the NBA as much as I love the NCAA—it stands to reason that since I like watching college basketball so much, games between NBA teams would be just as enjoyable.
Sure, both leagues have year-end tournaments to decide an eventual champion—it’s just too bad that the NBA’s version isn’t of the 68-team, single-elimination kind.
With the NBA playing a compressed schedule as a result of the lockout, I’ve decided to give the Association a chance. And as much as I’m hoping the NBA will show me something this season, I haven’t found much to get excited about so far.
It seems like there are certain aspects of an NBA game that don’t appeal to me as much as the high-intensity games played in the NCAA.
Whether I’ve seen them this year or I’m referring to aspects of the game I’ve seen in years past, here are the top reasons the NBA has a tendency to annoy rather than entertain…
(If you’re a die-hard defender of the NBA, you might want to avert your eyes. But if you’re David Stern, maybe take some notes here.)
Unlike the NCAA, it seems like NBA games are activities that are going on in the background since the crowd is seemingly never into the action. Unless the game is tied with two minutes to go in regulation, it’s almost like the crowd would rather be somewhere else.
When the home team is running another lackadaisical offensive set in the third quarter down by 18 points, the fact that the musical stylings of Cee-Lo Green are being played over the loudspeakers only makes the common fan question what’s going on.
Unlike the NCAA—where the student section usually paces the crowd noise—the NBA crowd is more of a downer than anything else.
A distant cousin of the canned music that characterizes an NBA game, the public address announcer’s repeated chant of “DE-FENSE” (clap-clap) “DE-FENSE” (clap-clap) is a reminder that the fans in the seats need to be prompted when the home team needs a boost on a defensive possession.
It doesn’t help the NBA’s cause when literally no one in the seats is listening to his instructions, either.
Floor seats at an NBA game are always good for one thing: unintentional comedy.
Never at an NCAA basketball game would you see “that guy.” He’s the one who doesn’t really follow sports, but when the playoffs roll around and court side tickets are $450, he definitely wants to be at the game, wearing his floral-patterned, button-down shirt and designer jeans.
For added measure, he’s also the guy who’s right behind the team bench, poking his head into the huddle while the coach diagrams an inbounds play, ready to make a suggestion if coach decides to ask him for advice.
I’ll take a raucous student section over “that guy” any day.
Miami pioneered this unpardonable “tradition” of giving each fan their own t-shirt to wear for the game and/or towel to wave during timeouts and free throws.
Since 2006, most home teams have taken it upon themselves to dress and accessorize their fans with clothing that has a unifying theme.
Whereas the student section wearing matching t-shirts is more a sign of school spirit, offering matching t-shirts to an entire NBA crowd makes rooting for the home team seem like a forced activity.
Case in point: 2011 Memphis Grizzlies fans were forced to wear white shirts with the slogan “Believe Memphis” for each home game.
If you need to be told to believe in your team during the playoffs, you probably shouldn't be going to the games in the first place.
NBA games seem more like indicators of a fan’s social status than they do athletic competitions, as the fans in the best seats often don’t show up to the game until well after it’s started.
It’s disappointing to turn on an NBA game and see an arena that’s half-empty at tip-off. The NBA is the world’s premier showcase of professional basketball; it should draw crowds that are excited to be there—or at least crowds that show up on time.
By comparison, NCAA basketball crowds file into their seats hours before the start of the game. It’s no wonder that home court advantage is roughly a million times more of a factor in college games than it is in the NBA.
These are more noticeable in the playoffs, but television timeouts kill the momentum in any NBA game. The television networks are obviously more concerned with cramming as many commercials down the throats of NBA viewers as possible than they are with showcasing the on-court product.
And if it takes away from the game itself, that’s just a risk the networks are willing to take.
At least, that’s what it seems like, since an NBA game is 48 minutes of playing time and 198 minutes of downtime (read: commercials, promotions, talking heads).
Because of the structure of the prototypical NBA game, defense isn’t mandatory until the fourth quarter—and that’s only if the score is relatively close at that point.
Shouldn’t players want to play their best defense all the time? At least it would squash the whole “NBA games aren’t exciting until the last two minutes” argument.
Although it’s technically a team sport, the NBA can lend itself to a very individual style of play from time to time. In contrast to the team-oriented style practiced at the collegiate level, NBA fans are often subjected to simplistic isolation offense.
College offenses revolve around team play, rather than the “me-first” style of offense that’s run in the NBA.
This “clear-out” offense in the NBA involves one player demanding the ball, then waving his teammates off. (It’s fine, he doesn’t need any help.)
That player then attempts to take his defender one-on-one, which is especially painful to watch when that one player isn’t interested in anything other than his own stats.
Maybe it’s because I’m looking for reasons to discredit the NBA as must-see sporting entertainment, but doesn’t it seem like the players on the bench are looking everywhere but at the coach when he’s going over what needs to be accomplished on the court?
Maybe that’s why I’m not an NBA coach—why would I want to spend my time yelling and diagramming plays if no one’s even watching what I’m doing?
I’m just saying.
This is perhaps the biggest turn-off when it comes to the casual fan deciding whether to adopt the NBA as a potential nighttime television commitment.
Simply put, it’s disheartening to see a player blatantly not trying during a game.
With the ridiculous amounts of money the players are making, it’s staggering when you calculate their hourly rates—especially if the formula is based on hours in which a player actually expends effort to help his team win.