Is it just me or is interest in the NBA heading into the abyss?
I’ll be honest. I don’t watch the NBA during the regular season. There’s an 82-game schedule just to determine which handful of teams DO NOT make the playoffs as more than half of the 30 teams get in.
I would rather watch the MLB Network with the talking heads theorizing about the upcoming season. And baseball is thought to be no better than No. 3 in popularity behind the NFL and NBA, and even maybe No. 4 behind NASCAR.
What has happened to all the NBA star power? There’s still LeBron James, but has anyone noticed since he’s turned 30 he suddenly looks 40? He still has tremendous skills, but he in no way resembles the player he was just five years ago. He came out at the age of 18 and the NBA lifestyle can be taxing on the body. Just think of all the travel, getting into a new city at 4 a.m. and then turning around and having to play a game.
Kobe Bryant? Another season ended early because of injury. The sun is setting on Kobe’s career. He’s been around nearly 20 years and the man can scarcely move.
After that, where are the stars? Derrick Rose and Dwynae Wade can’t stay healthy. Kevin Durant toils in Oklahoma City, whose fervent fan base probably will disappear once he moves on as a free agent or retires.
How many people know which team has the best record in all of the NBA? Raise your hand if you knew it was the Golden State Warriors, who play half their games in California and most fans go to bed not knowing whether they won or lost — or even care.
The best team in the East is Atlanta. Are you kidding me? The Hawks? There was once a time just a few years back when there was talk of moving the team because it couldn’t draw 10,000 fans a game. By the way, name the Hawks’ starting five. You deserve a gold star if you know because I don’t know without looking it up.
When I think of the NBA I think of the Lakers, Celtics, 76ers and Knicks — teams I grew up with when the league was about half the size it currently is and the talent pool wasn’t so diluted.
Look at those teams now — the Lakers are 13-38, the Celtics are 19-31, the 76ers are 12-41 and the ghastly Knicks are 10-42. When the flagship teams of the NBA are floundering — not to mention these are the biggest-market teams — it’s no wonder you can hear crickets at some of the NBA arenas.
There are way too many teams. You could fold about a half-dozen teams and nobody would miss them. At least it would tighten up the rosters and you wouldn’t have so many players in the league who probably should be in the D-League.
It’s not easy to turn things around in a hurry anymore. There are so many not-ready one-and-done players coming out of college now that a team’s fortunes can’t be reversed overnight. KU’s two one-and-done players from last year — Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid — are poster children for why players should stay in school for more than one year. Wiggins is putting up decent numbers, but can’t guard his shadow as his willowy frame is getting pushed around like a rag doll. No one is sure if Embiid will ever step on the court. He’s had an assortment of injuries and there have been reports his idleness has led to a serious weight gain. He was a project to begin with since he had played so little organized basketball and now his progress is being retarded.
The college game has suffered as well. I can’t ever remember a year where we have so few big-time players as it’s just become commonplace for a decent freshman to leave after one year, take the guaranteed first-round money and then sink or swim, the majority sinking. Because of the revolving rosters, fans have to check their programs every year. I miss the days of UCLA and Phi Slamma Jamma. That’s when college basketball was fun.
Getting back to the NBA, wake me up about June when the finals start. Maybe then I’ll almost care.