Thursday, May 7, 2009
While following the various Twitter feeds, the talk turns to basketball. Many WNBA fans are distracted by the NBA Playoffs, which have finished their first round and are now moving into the conference semi-finals. WNBA fans talk about the amazing Boston-Chicago series which went a full seven games. Players like Chamique Holdsclaw and longtime reporters of women's basketball Twitter away regarding their observations during the NBA playoffs.
This begs the question: "can a person be a fan of the WNBA and not a fan of the NBA?"
The answer: yes. Because I'm one of those people. The real question should be, "how many WNBA fans are not NBA fans?"
As a side note, I read the Got Man Answers blog while looking for WNBA info. (There's no point in visiting, I just wanted to be able to point to a site.) The author "Man Answers" (or "Manswers") wishes to be the arbitrer of All Things Masculine, a Petronius of the frat. Someone asks him if one can still be "manly" (I suppose) and know about the LPGA. The author replies that the only way you can avoid losing manliness points is if:
a) you are a fan of the corresponding male event, or
b) you have a daughter, friend or relative on the team.
The telling quote:
It's ok for a man to love women's sports, but never at a level exceeding his love for the same men's sport, unless a loved one is a participant or social deviant terrorists are involved.
If that's not the definition of chauvinism - "extreme partisanship" - there isn't one. The word "chauvinism" would become officially devoid of meaning, to be replaced with "wiksdgo" or "fnord". The excuse would be that such a "manly man" (I can't help but laugh; the men who seek manliness search to fill an infinite void) would give for watching an WNBA game is that he loves basketball so much that his love even spills out to clearly inferior sports like the WNBA. To such a specimen, all I can say hope he got his cootie shot before the Liberty and Sparks tip off.
Here's the problem: I've tried to watch the NBA, but I'm just not a fan. Everything the haters say about the WNBA - that's it's dull, boring, predictable - applies to the NBA, but for different reasons.
* The season takes friggin forever. The regular season is virtually meaningless - I recently read Phil Jackson's latest book and he pretty much says so. To paraphrase PJ: "the regular season record would be nice for our fans, but we just want to get into the playoffs". With so many games, playoff contenders can build an insurmountable lead, and then phone it in from February onwards. If the players don't care about the outcomes of the games, why should I care? The WNBA's 34 game season is much more thrilling than the 82-going-on-250 game season of the NBA.
* The game takes friggin forever. I just don't have patience for 12-minute quarters. Ten, yes, twelve, no. That extra eight minutes is stretched to at least thirty minutes by fouls, commercials, and various time-out related activities. Why does every NBA game I watch appear to be The Most Boring Thing Ever?
* No one seems to play much defense. Hell, no one seems to even know how the game is played. One guy carries the ball, and stuffs it in with a dunk that looks...well, pretty much like every other dunk I've ever seen. (I have never figured out what is so amazing about dunking. Even supposedly spectacular dunks look pedestrian to me.) Sometimes, it's a one-handed dunk. Sometimes, it's a two-handed dunk. (When they do a three-handed dunk, wake me up.) The team might only have two designated scorers; anyone else touches the ball apparently by accident, shooting only when the 24-second clock is about to expire.
While this is going on, a half-hearted attempt at defense is usually attempted by the opposing team. I think four players - two on offense, two on defense - could walk off the court and no one would notice they were missing.
* Height simply dominates the game. Friend-o, a man who is six feet eight inches tall and can dunk a basketball is not interesting. It would be much more interesting if he was a tall, powerful specimen who couldn't dunk the ball. That would at least make him a character. The WNBA detractors say the rims in the women's game should be lowered; I counter that the men's rims should be raised. It's easy to shoot three percentage points better when you're a friggin foot closer to the basket from height alone.
Oh. But then they couldn't dunk so easily, now could they? Well, never mind then.
* I don't really like any of the players. Most of this is due to the preferential treatment they were given since seventh grade, which has caused some sort of free-standing ego disease.
* Anyone who might be a hero is cleaned up to the point of irrelevance by the NBA marketers. The NBA doesn't have heroes, it has salesmen. Yes, LeBron James is a great athlete, but his athleticism isn't enough to compel me to watch him. I don't know who he is or what he represents in the most existential sense of the term. He's an okay pitch-man. He can move product. He can score large numbers of points on the basketball court. But where does LeBron stand in relevance to me? What is LeBron James besides his athletic skill?
So there it is. My horrible secret. I just don't like the NBA. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to how I can approach the conundrum that is the NBA differently, but there you go. If this means I have to turn in my man-badge, well sheriff, you can find it on my desk. I'm keeping the gun. And as the saying goes, I don't need no stinkin' badges.