Sunday, May 05, 2013

It Used To Matter Around Here...

The Pacers played the Knicks for the first time in the playoffs in 13 years today and came away with a win after traveling to the most-famous arena in the world.  The guys who were supposed to play well for the Pacers and Knicks did so- George and West led the Pacers as Anthony and Smith countered for the once-hated Knicks.

Following the game, local Indianapolis TV stations tried to capture the mood in Indy bars about how the fans felt in the wake of the Pacers not allowing NY to defend home court...the apathy was palpable.  I empathize with the meh feeling.

15 years ago, I like the NBA...and I loved playoff basketball.  I really loved when the Pacers played the Knicks.  Not only could you feel the energy in Market Square Arena, but you could feel it in the city.  Miller, Davis and Smits...Starks, Oakley and Ewing. Sure I sound like an old guy, but it's not the same anymore (and get off my lawn!).

J confessed the other night during a Half-Handsome Hour that he actually is more of a Rangers fan that a Purdue fan; surprising, kinda...but he's been a Rangers fan much longer than a Purdue fan.  He didn't start rooting for Purdue until he decided to go there back in the early-mid 90s.  But the same thing might have been said at one time for the Knicks (I'm putting words in his mouth right now, mind you).  I can assure you that it wouldn't be said today; J doesn't care too much for the Knicks, or the NBA for that matter anymore.

As for me, I was brainwashed to be a Purdue fan and can never remember not rooting for Purdue.  BUT, before I ever went to a Purdue game, I went to Pacers games.  My Grandfather owned the Pacers in the 70s and family sat courtside. I can remember kneeling on the court and coloring on my seat during games when I was bored.  Willard Eason, my Grandpa, sold his interest in the Pacers after building Market Square Arena and moving the Pacers from the ABA to the NBA...and when he died, actually well before that, he had no connection to the team. But that didn't stop me from watching and caring about the Pacers during middle school, high school and college.

But like my pal J Money with his Knicks, I don't care too much for the Pacers anymore...or the NBA for that matter.

There are only so many hours in the day and sports year...and time is more precious the older my kids get.  If I'm going to waste spend time watching sports these days, it's generally not going to be NBA basketball, except for some playoff basketball maybe...I just don't care about it.  But, for some reason, my seven year old son does like the we watched the game this afternoon.

I can honestly say, I don't know many of the players on the Pacers roster...and I'm OK with it. I feel about the Pacers kinda like I feel about Purdue's womens' basketball team- since they represent something close to me, so I want to see them do well...but it doesn't bother me at all when they lose.

They lost me at the brawl...but if I was being honest, I was already on my way out when that happened.  When I lived in the Northeast in the late-90s and the NBA was pimping guys like Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady as the generation to replace Jordan and company, I wasn't on board.  I didn't like the personalities or the style of play anymore and my gaze was shifting full-time to Purdue and everything around it.

It really doesn't matter why it happened, but it happened.  Anymore, I probably wouldn't pay more than $15 for a Pacers game; in fact, I think I payed around that last year when I took my son to see JJ and E'Twaun sit on the bench for the Celtics.  It was boring, the regular season is passionless and the NBA didn't really rekindle an old flame that day.

But it used to matter; J and I used to talk trash about the Pacers v. Knicks...we used to care and actually move our schedules around to watch those games on TV...not-so-much anymore.

In the wake of watching the IndyCar race from Brazil on TV, on a rainy Sunday afternoon; TBD was napping, Mrs. BDowd was working, and LBD and I watched the Pacers take a 1-0 lead over the Knicks...and no one really cared (around here, anyway).

In case you didn't watch, this definitely didn't happen today.


Purdue Matt said...

"My Grandfather owned the Pacers in the 70s and family sat courtside."

Come again?

Wow, that's awesome

Benjamin said...

So you drifted from the NBA during the post-Jordan dark days of McGrady and Iverson etc. I get that. Those were some relatively bad years for NBA basketball.

But if that's all that made the NBA stink in your mind you should take another look or two at today's NBA. Your Pacers are a prime example of a league full of good players and coaches, where team basketball and incredible defense are the name of the game for the elite teams. There's a reason the Lakers stunk this year.

Bottom line, if you like the game of basketball, it doesn't make sense not to like seeing it played by the best athletes in the world.

J Money said...

Benjamin -- Seeing NBA players talent is actually something I think both of us would agree is impressive. When I've been at games (Rockets more recently, when I lived in Houston), it's something I definitely notice -- huge human beings moving quicker than physics should say they can.

But what I think we both don't like is the apathy shown during the regular season, coupled with still-unlikable "stars." Sure, Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan seem like good guys, but the league still can't shut up about awful people like Kobe, for example. Sure, we're old and cranky and that's probably part of it. But it's also often noncompetitive -- how many teams TRULY could win the title this year? The Knicks and Pacers both put together very nice seasons and one of them will be in the conference finals -- a great accomplishment. But do either have a legit chance to win the title? Of course not.

People say baseball is only won by a few teams but that's simply not true. It's much more true in the NBA. When this season started, you knew (unless your head is in the sand) that the only teams capable of winning the title were Miami, Ok City, San Antonio and... who else? Maybe the Lakers, back in November?


BoilerWhat said...

I checked out when the Heat became the lazy way for washed up stars to get a ring. No one is beating a healthy Heat team and that's why the fans aren't excited, whether they want to admit it or not. The regular season is a lifeless progression not worthy of my attention either... Good post.

boilerdowd said...

Benjamin- I don't like the game; the showiness and inconsistency of officials, the beat 'em up style of play near the basket, dribbling being optional for certain players and the blatant favoritism of certain players throw logs on the fire of my strong dislike for the game. The fact that I just don't like a lot of the players is another thing that I can't get over. Sure, there are guys that I like and some of the best athletes in the world play the game; no doubt about it, but the season is too long, the commish seems to allow some franchises one set of rules (when loading up teams) and another in a separate the PC BS that comes out of his mouth makes me laugh...and no, I'm not talking about the recent announcement of middling journeyman Collins.

I also don't like the MLB, NHL any women's basketball or any the NBA shouldn't be too offended by my dislike of her.

Matt, you read it's a bit more info about the greatest, smartest man I've ever met (after J Money, of course):!search/profile/person?personId=267060151&targetid=profile

(about a third of the way down)

Boilergal said...

My feelings towards the NBA pretty much mirror yours... minus the courtside seats! I used to love the NBA, especially the playoffs. Why else would an 18-year old girl waste time the summer after her freshman year at Purdue watching the freaking Knicks play the Rockets in the Finals if she didn't actually love the NBA at the time?? (Of course, I did get to join the rest of the nation in watching the infamous Bronco chase because I was watching such programming!) I loved Reggie and the Knicks rivalry, used to attend some Pacers games after graduation and loved watching and gossiping about the Watson's girl, then Reggie retired and I never really continued to care. They had lost me well before the brawl (I remember getting up early to head to Purdue for a tailgate and beatdown of IU the morning after that Pacer game...) I pretty much can no longer bookmark any of my life with happenings of the NBA since the brawl. It used to be something I made a point to watch, yet last night we made dinner reservations without a thought to the fact that the end of the Pacers-Knicks game would be occurring at the same time. I don't think that the NBA can ever win me back... I am "old", in my mind none of the current or future NBA players will ever match up with the greats that played during my years of following... MJ, Pippen, Reggie (esp vs. Spike) , Ewing, Stockton, Barkley, Magic, Kareem, Bird, etc. I still have fond memories of watching those players and this new generation of player, no matter what level of skill, will never be able to reel me in to watching the NBA.

zlionsfan said...

Like J, I arrived on the Purdue scene late, so I was already following pro sports more closely than the Boilers ... and of course 1989 was a pretty good year for someone from Michigan. But over time, I've drifted away from the league, not coincidentally because Dumars has mismanaged the Pistons so badly, but also because it's simply not that interesting.

The '70s were probably the most interesting decade to follow the NBA, unlike several other leagues. I can't say that I really followed it that closely as a kid, so I really missed out. When the other leagues had a bit less balance (even for smaller leagues like the NHL), the NBA had a surprising number of different winners. Only two teams, the Knicks and Celtics, won more than one title that decade.

Champs during the '70s: *Knicks, *Bucks, Lakers, Celtics, Warriors, *Trail Blazers, *Bullets, *Sonics.

Champs since the '70s: Lakers, Celtics, 76ers, **Pistons, **Bulls, **Rockets, **Spurs, **Heat, **Mavericks.

*denotes teams that won their only titles in the '70s
**denotes teams that won their only titles since the '70s

In the '70s, there were 8 different champions. In the 33 seasons since, there have been only 9, and 27 of those titles belong to just 5 teams (Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Spurs, Pistons).

Compare that to the other sports: the NFL had 6 champions in the '70s (based on year of Super Bowl, not year of regular season; 5 if you count regular seasons) and 15 since then. MLB: 5 in the '70s and 19 since then. NHL: 3 in the '70s, 16 since then. Heck, even MLS has had 9 champions in less than 20 years.

This is pretty obviously what David Stern wants ... it's too bad so many others don't agree with him.

J Money said...

Another thing that I think many anti-NBA'ers dislike is the fact that there is so much posturing in the NBA and that individuals matter far more than team. This is largely the NBA's fault for marketing stars more than the league/product, but still. These guys get in fights that cost their team a chance at a title (think Knicks in the '90s; even last week, JR Smith throws an elbow that gets him tossed and leads to the Celts coming back to life) and are more interested in being tough guys or arguing and taking techs than they are with winning. That sort of stuff rarely, if ever, happens in the NHL or baseball in the playoffs.

I don't know. I guess it all goes back to unlikable stars.

BoilerRick said...

The NBA lost me first when Bird/Magic retired and then again when Jordan left. I just get tired of hearing about them making tens of millions of dollars and having 12 kids with 12 different women, they are just way too pampered. A long time ago I was sitting in the Houston airport and some very tall guys come walking off a plane, Kareem, Magic etc - it was the Lakers and they were flying on regular flights, not the pampered private jets they all fly today.
Growing up I was a huge baseball fan but cannot stand watching a game today, 3 and half hours with ten pitcher changes just puts me to sleep. College basketball is the best to watch live or on tv

zlionsfan said...

J, that's a good point ... but some of that is the NBA being willing to suspend a player for something they did, postseason or not, where the NHL only seems to suspend known bad guys in the playoffs, and then only for really bad infractions. And baseball ... Kenny Rogers, for example.

I wonder how much of the marketing stars part is that rosters are so small in the first place: (roughly) half the size of an NHL or MLB roster, a quarter or so the size of an NFL roster. Starting MLB players spend nearly half the time in the dugout; few NHL players (and no forwards) spend half the game on the ice; same with the NFL.

But in the NBA, one guy is 20% of your starting lineup, and he can play all the meaningful minutes, every game, if he's in top condition. Except for fast breaks, he plays a part on every defensive possession, and if he's a star, on most offensive possessions too. They really do make a difference. It would be hard to market the NBA without marketing individuals. They just seem to do it to the exclusion of teams ... and of course with ESPN playing a big role, you know they are going to cover NY/Boston/LA plus whatever team is the favorite to exhaustion.

Benjamin said...

Some well-meaning retorts (not that I think any minds will be changed - nor do I care):

1. unlikable stars: if you crunch the numbers I suspect this is a function of the nature of the game - only 10 players on the court without a ton of padding or helmets to cover their expressions / tats. Football has a worse thug culture imo. I also simply don't really care if they are 'unlikable', however much I think this is a misperception. One of the things I like about the NBA is that it is relatively emotion-free basketball beauty - I avoid the stress of an emotional attachment like I have to Purdue, and just allow myself to admire some incredible basketball. For the same reasons, I hate golf. Very likable people, boring game. I'm watching for the sport pure and simple, and so while I get irritated by the human interest crap, I can ignore it and admire the game itself.

2. The 'who can win' factor: I'm surprised at this, given that realistically Purdue has had a chance at an NCAA b-ball championship maybe 3 times in the past 4 decades. I still watch every year. As for the NBA, people say this, but then you still have exciting upsets (Lakers being horrible, Dallas winning two years ago). This year Westbrook goes down and no more OKC chances, and the same will be said for Miami if Lebron is sidelined for even a half of a series. Indiana took Miami to 7 last year, and they could do it again this year even with a healthy Lebron.

3. Showiness and inconsistent officials: the first is simply a Granpda Simpson complaint. meh. The second... have you watched the college game lately?

4. never top Jordan, Pippen, etc.: I'll never love another video game more than Mario Brothers, but I still admit that the games coming out now are in many ways superior. Lebron, Durant, Duncan, Kobe (yes, even Kobe), CP3, etc. are as good if not better (maybe with the exception of Jordan) a group of stars as the league has ever seen. Oh, and Reggie was over-rated.

5. individuals over team: a) if this is the reality those teams don't win, b) its a perception because there's only 5 guys on the court and 1 player can make a huge impact. Again, nature of the game.

The one glaring problem with the NBA with which I will totally agree is that the season needs shortened to something like 65 games. Players don't take nights off because they are pampered, they do it so they'll have legs for the playoffs. It's a shame, but it looks like things are starting to change as the weight of the evidence builds that you might draw more eyes to the regular season with a few less games that are more intense, and be able to more likely feature all the best players come playoff time.

Plang said...

I fall squarely in the camp of not being much of a fan of the NBA, but for other reasons. I was watching one of the games the other night and about 5 minutes into it I really noticed how big all the guys were and how fast they were moving - even the "slow" big men. Instead of thinking about all the things I dislike about the NBA, I starting thinking about how I would change it.

Don't focus on the players, focus on the rules. I less foul (5 instead of 6) and 1 fewer time outs per half. That would speed up the game (somewhat) and get guys to actually learn defense rather than just hacking at anyone that gets in the paint. Also, it may be time to think about widening the court. Ten guys in the half court seem to take up most of the space these days. And the three point line is pretty close to the out of bounds line. Make the court a little bigger. I had a whole list running in my head, but those were the big ones.

As for the teams themselves, I wish more were like San Antonio. From management down to the players, it really is a "team". I also like how Pop will just sit his players and rest them no matter what the League says. Maybe if more teams did this, there would be fewer guys taking games "off".

Discuss amoung yourselves.

Benjamin said...


I agree with the foul issue. If the players are better, the extended game time should not mean they need more fouls. Though I would say if you watch the best teams the defenses are already fantastic. I think we often don't notice it because they've gotten it down to such a science that rather than superhuman effort (a la Chris Kramer) leading to the best defensive teams its smart switches and positioning.

And yes, I don't see any downside to widening the court, at least to the point that the corner 3 isn't so much shorter. Teams like the Spurs pretty much design their offense totally around getting corner 3s, and that seems a bit too much like a cheat code to me.

As for San Antonio's M.O. - believe me, the smart teams have learned from them, and are trying to emulate. It's tough. Timmy's longevity has made it easier for San Antonio.

Bottom line, though, is that what's frustrating about the NBA is too often boiled down to some feeling about the magic being gone or likeability by folks who really don't watch much NBA. I could see someone who doesn't watch a lot of college ball saying something like 'it's full of idiots who don't listen to their coaches and can't shoot,' which would come from some superficial place of truth, but those who love the college game know there's a more nuanced story to it, and lots of other good things that make it great. Same with the NBA. Lots of stuff that could be fixed, but it's not some bastardized version of basketball designed to ruin the game for future generations.

Purdue Matt said...

The NBA sux

SJD said...

CalTravelGuy said...

The Knicks and the Pacers made the playoffs this year? Awe, that's cute.

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