Indulge your narrator, please, as he attempts to explain why he has spent the past three days putting up negative information about the NBA, and allow me to correct some misunderstandings.
I am not a hockey fan, despite the fact that I am an American living in Canada. In fact, were you to tell some of my friends up here that people now believe me to be an NHL fan, they would spit out their Tim Horton Timbits quicker than Ben Johnson at Seoul. I hate the NHL, I hate hockey, I hate people who say that hockey players are the greatest athletes alive, and I hate it when sportswriters couch their racism inside melodious descriptions of “gritty” and “tough” hockey players.
The attendance information I presented is factual, not something I made up on my mom’s computer (actually, my mom doesn’t own a computer, or a basement, but thanks for asking). If you don’t believe me, go to espn.com and do the research yourself.
I get it. The NBA is more popular than the NHL. I’m not an idiot, and any league which broadcasts it games on something called Versus is not even in the same ballpark. I never said that the NBA was in danger of being surpassed by the NHL in terms of American popularity – only a fool would say that.
#4 – and most importantly
Why? Why bother bringing all of this up? Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not sour grapes. Well, it’s partially sour grapes, although I ask you: How do you expect me to feel about a commissioner who felt his loyalty to Clay Bennett superseded the loyalty Seattle fans had shown the NBA for 40 years?
No, the true reason I brought this up goes back to what I wrote more than a year ago – that the NBA needs cities more than cities need the NBA. There’s been an emperor’s new clothes mentality for the past two decades about stadium building, and the continual escalation of arena modifications across North America resembles nothing so much to me as the Cold War.
Arenas are not refurbished because city’s need them to be, they’re rebuilt because franchises need improvements to better compete with the other teams who just had their arenas rebuilt.
It is my belief that the NBA – and perhaps sports in general – have reached a day of reckoning in this neverending one-upmanship. It is my belief that Seattle will enter into negotiations with the NBA with a completely different tact than in previous times, and that it – and other cities - will no longer have to be beggars for the NBA’s scraps.
And, finally, consider this: Do you know anyone who plays hockey? Did your high school have a hockey team? Do you and your friends get together for pick-up hockey on Saturdays?
I’m guessing the answer to those questions is no all around. And yet, despite basketball’s inherent advantages over hockey in terms of popularity in the U.S., here we stand, with hockey drawing more people this year. How is this possible?
Rather than castigate me for presenting facts, how about a frank discussion about the troubles the NBA is facing, and what can be done to fix it? Would that not be more productive than insults?
Nobody likes the guy who brings the bad news, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore what he has to say, either.