20 Reasons Why the NBA Is the Worst
I want to enjoy watching professional basketball again. I really do.
But after watching a season of bracket-busting, court-rushing madness in college basketball, the task of switching over to full-time NBA ball viewing is like coming down from a four-month adrenaline binge and being forced to swill lukewarm Dunkin’ outside the Flying J truck stop to get your fix.
It’s just not the same, but it’s all that’s keeping us college basketball junkies from scratching our necks bloody.
So transition we must, going from a lightning strike a week in the NCAA to a steady diet of the same-old same-old aboard the U.S.S. David Stern—the best teams dominating night in and out, bad teams remaining perpetually in the cellar and mornings full of glassy-eyed Dwight Howard interviews and muted Mike D’Antoni sadness.
It’s a hard road to hoe, and we shan’t do it quietly. Here are 20 reasons why the NBA is the worst.
Annoying Pre-Recorded Music Playing During the Game
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Every time an NBA arena plays the organ tune “Charge!” during a home team's offensive possession, an orphan's Snack Pack is stomped into the ground.
It’s a gimmicky void-filler for the game.
It’s like the NBA and you are kind of friends but don’t know each other well enough to have comfortable silence—which is exactly what you’d get at some NBA regular-season games if they didn’t actively fill the air with sounds to provoke people into engaging in the action.
Fans Show Up Late to Games Looking Like Tools
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“Sorry I’m late guys. I just turned 27 so, obviously, I had to register for an Instagram account and buy tickets to Ultra. It took forever because they had trouble sizing me for a denim jacket. Who’s winning the meet?”
The same guys who never went to a basketball game during their collegiate careers are the same ones who mystifyingly show up late to pro games when it becomes the thing to do.
These people are the reasons why teams like the Miami Heat develop programs explaining how to be a basketball fan.
The Dunk Contest
If you care to dust off some old tape (or the Dead Sea Scrolls), you can see there once existed a time when the dunk contest was a highly anticipated and celebrated event in the NBA.
It wasn’t just the good athletes dunking, or an afterthought you throw your hat into at the last minute. It featured monumental clashes between NBA stars—Michael Jordan versus Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb versus Wilkins and so on. It was an annual promise of jaw-dropping talent for fans to look forward to.
The 2013 NBA Dunk Contest, on the other hand, was one of the worst things to ever happen in professional sports that didn’t involve grievous bodily injury or Mark Sanchez.
It’s a sad day for the NBA when the professionals are getting outdone by 18-year-olds in the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest.
The All-Star Game
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Just cancel it.
All of them, from the NFL’s Pro Bowl to the NBA All-Star Game and any other annual contest where professionals half-play, half joke through an athletic contest.
We don’t need it anymore. No one out there but Kobe Bryant is trying, and it’s making it weird.
Just set up a mascot basketball game with trampolines all over the court, slam-ball style. I’d watch that over a bunch of guys are half-playing one second, and then violently trying to make the highlight reel the next.
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Much like monsoons and the HBO series Girls, lockouts are an unfortunate and elemental part of life we have to deal with in this world. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept them.
The owners, players and commissioner of the NBA have but one responsibility as an organization—to put on professional basketball games.
They play ball. We pay money. And the unspoken contract goes on.
The only good thing about the lockout was that it was acted as a most unfortunate mechanism to solve another giant problem with the NBA...
Too Many Games
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♫ Cut my eyes into pieces, this is my last resort
Saturation, not needed
But ‘cha make more bucks with an 80-plus game season ♫
If the NBA slimmed down its season to a number more like the NCAA, each game would have more emphasis and eliminate dead-fish games where teams can afford to bench their stars.
Fewer games also equals fewer repetition-related injuries, and therefore longer career potentials for star players who draw fans to the arena.
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To be clear, some teams have defense. The good ones do, at least.
But outside those Finals contenders, a majority of teams play with an enraging lack of hands-up readiness on the defensive end. How many times have you seen a guy D-up a hot shooter like Kevin Durant without a hand in his face?
Yes, Durant is going to get his 25-plus points. That’s just how the world works. But don’t give it to him. This isn’t UNICEF.
Coaches Are Glorified Babysitters
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Few strong coaches who demand respect and actively run their team's game plan seem to exist in the NBA anymore.
Except for Erik Spoelstra, that is, who does a great job of standing near the sideline as the Big Three dominate, looking like he won some kind of “Coach for a Day” contest and Pat Riley thought it would be funny to keep him around.
That being said, while a lot of NBA coaches come off as babysitters, they at least aren’t the kind of sitters who lure kids into their stewardship only to wallop on them when mom and dad aren’t around.
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Are you famous and actually enjoy sports? Have a real team you’ve always cheered for? Awesome, good for you. Step right on up and claim your seat at the Staples Arena.
Are you famous and enjoy to pretend to like sports in order to get on television with your girlfriend? Well, open up, sweet peach, because you're getting a tee-shirt cannon straight to the tonsils.
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Lollygagging. Truffle-shuffling. The Kwame Brown effect.
Call it what you want, but the NBA is one of the few professional leagues where players can coast from Year 1 and still be around a decade later.
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I had no problem with Spike Lee. Heck, I liked the man.
He was a passionate old relic of basketball, a one-of-a-kind part of the game I would one day relish holding over my children’s head in a “I remember when all this was cattle country” sort of way. He was the model diehard who never sold out and did anything gimmicky.
But then he showed up to the NCAA tournament game in a Virginia Commonwealth outfit, and somewhere in his grave, Patrice O’Neal awoke long enough to yell this.
No. 54 on the court and No. 5,000,000,000 in our hearts, former first-round lottery pick Kwame Brown has become a walking punch-line in the NBA.
Brown’s lack of intensity and unwillingness to improve his game (as well as his inability stay out of trouble off the court) have led his bouncing around collecting paychecks to sit on the benches across the league throughout the last decade.
The 76ers are the 30-year-old center’s latest employers and have managed to only play him in 20 games so far this season, getting almost zero in return for the $5,700,000 two-year contract they signed him to in 2012.
The Short Shot Clock
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I’m all for scoring buckets, but rushing the game for more possessions doesn’t always mean more points.
Obviously, the NBA’s 24-second shot clock is pushing for more baskets and forcing teams to play more run and gun. So you didn’t score that last time down the court? It’s cool, you have almost 100 possessions per game, on average.
I realize that NBA games are longer than college games and therefore have more possessions, but between the reduced shot clock and the lengthened games, individual possessions are devalued.
The Celebrity All-Star Game
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The only redeemable quality about the Celebrity All-Star game is Kevin Hart. If Hart is playing, the annual Celebrity All-Star Game is twice as good as the NBA Dunk Contest, and only slightly better than trench foot.
Actually, Kevin Hart is by far the best part about the All-Star weekend. He's awesome.
Flopping is a multi-level epidemic in basketball, one that started in the NBA and has trickled down to the NCAA and below.
At this rate, 6’10” seventh graders are going to be showing up on SportsCenter’s “Not Top Ten” for taking phantom elbows from opponents who haven’t hit puberty yet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see NBA scouting reports praising a prospect’s “situational awareness” and ability to “provoke opponents into making mistakes.”
Players Whining About Fouls
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True story: Carlos Boozer has never committed a foul while playing in the National Basketball Association or the NCAA.
He is just another one of the thousands of victims in the NBA wrongfully accused of committing fouls and penalized for the actions of others.
And he deserves to voice his displeasure, in Dolby Surround, as he pantomimes his frustration after every single whistle.
Dwight Howard Interviews
As if all the complaining and whining in Orlando wasn’t bad enough, now that Dwight Howard has landed with the Los Angeles Lakers, we are subjected to interview after interview of him talking as though his best friend just kicked his birthday cake into the highway.
Traveling Is Now Legal
Are you a big-name player who likes to attack the bucket? Then you, my friend, are NBA referee-approved to do the Charleston all the way to the basket.
Contrary to popular belief, the key to traveling in the NBA isn’t subtlety. The key is being awesome, and therefore presumably above reproach. It also doesn’t hurt if you dunk the ever-lovin’ mess out of the ball at the end of your drive, too.
And yes, even the His Airness did the “salsa” with the ball from time to time.
There’s a reason the President of the United States has strict parameters regarding term limits—it’s to keep the nation from experiencing the kind of entrenched cheer-tatorship the NBA has had under the 30-year reign of commissioner David Stern.
Being king isn’t easy, but the crown rests far heavier when you block trades between teams, citing “basketball reasons” as your qualifying motivator. Fans also tend to be flummoxed when you’re cool with a team resting its star players, and then fine another team for doing that very same thing years later.
The NBA Isn't the Worst, It's Actually Awesome
Now that we're all good and worked up, it's time to cool off and be real.
I kid because I care, everyone, and because I want to be as invested in the league as I once was when I was growing up.
My love for basketball is such that I could never hate the NBA, for all its strange quirks and frustrating aspects. No matter how much the dunk contest continues to be a bumble-fest, or how insufferable the interloping of the commissioner becomes, I will still watch it for the simplest of all truths:
It's a conglomeration of the most talented college ballplayers in the world, playing the highest level of basketball you’ll ever see. Besides, do you know how screwed up the NCAA is? Geez.
But we’ll get into that another day.