Friday, November 21

A Word, If You Will

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 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sour grapes, although I ask you: How do you expect me to feel about a commissioner who felt his loyalty to Clay Bennett superseded the loyalty Seattle fans had shown the NBA for 40 years?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.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To Robert Simmons -

If you want to disagree, fine, but no one's going to hear you on this website if you say it like that.

Anonymous said...

I see where you are coming from with the couching racism thing but you are way off. C'mon - most hockey players are actually tough and gritty - it's not like when they talk about how white basketball or football players are so 'intelligent' vs. black players being 'athletic'. Jarome Iginla is hailed as one of the toughest and grittiest stars in the league. It's different in hockey, people don't obsess about race like they do in the major US sports.

Disregard this if you meant racism against Europeans, in which case you are mostly right.

Anonymous said...

Rob - Colorado:
My high school had a hockey team, and growing up we played roller hockey all the time in the neighborhood. Before you go dismissing the NHL as not in the same "ballpark" as the NBA, you may want to check the revenue figures for each league. The NHL isn't as far behind as you wish to believe.

chunkstyle23 said...

Pete, if my greatest enemies in life were Oklahomans, potty-mouthed hockey fans, and Steve Nash apologists, I think I could live with that.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Jack, maybe it's from living in Canada for the past decade, but I definitely sense a heightened sense of fealty from the sportswriters here to the hockey players. There's this "these are real guys just like us" mentality that pervades the coverage, which coincides with the mocking tones they take towards NBA players.

That said, I shouldn't have painted all North American writers with the same brush I used for Canadian ones. The only hockey coverage I get is from local radio when I can't change the station in time, so my viewing window is narrow. I also didn't mean to insult hockey fans themselves, as you'll note I only referenced the media, not the fans.

I won't concede the point about hockey's popularity in the states vs basketball's. Just guessing here, but I would imagine that at least 80% of American men have played basketball at some point in their lives, whether competitively, in PE, at the gym, at the park, etc. The number for hockey can't be more than 25%.

Anonymous said...

only correction about the NBA/NHL thing.

"Through November 24 of this year, using the most recent data compiled from, the NBA is edging the NHL in average attendance, 17,178 to 17,119".

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or hockey fans took over this blog? I would have never thought to see so many hockey fans posting on a bball blog.. I mean, it would be like NBA fans joining a hockey blog and trashing the NHL. Would it even make sense? I've seen hockey nuts trashing basketball as a whole in this blog. Gosh, stop it cuz it's getting annoying.

Anonymous said...

"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?"

Simply put: NO

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