Tag Archives: National Basketball Association

The Great Northeast’s Super Bowl, or How I Fell Back in Love with the NBA

It’s not like I fell out of love with the National Basketball Association, really, I just would’ve been really ticked had they not played this year. For all the good that was done last year with the Mavericks winning, Kevin Durant and Co. bringing fun back to the game and the Heat and Lakers losing (HA! Still funny) it would’ve all been undone had the fools in suits tossed aside the year. I understand it’s a business, but for selfish reasons, I’m really glad they came to an –albeit tenuous — compromise.

Kevin Durant

Oh, Kevin Durant... you're the reason God make the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides that whole Longhorn thing. We forgive you.

And if it wasn’t for the NBA and its glorious offspring, NCAA men’s basketball, I’m not sure I could tolerate the end of the football season. You see, I live in Connecticut, a state divided among Red Sox and Yankees fans, Jets and Giants and Patriots fans and Rangers and Bruins fans. A state that probably likes the Celtics a lot more than the Knicks, but I understand that.

What I don’t understand is how the 49ers and Ravens let this happen. For the love of Pete — it’s a rematch game. Didn’t we get enough of those during the BCS title game? I certainly did. And though I’m not a huge fan of any NFL team, I would’ve liked to have seen the 49ers back in this — and as a somewhat Cowboys fan, it’s not easy to  say that. My Canadian brother-in-law, whom I adore, is a big-time 49ers fan, even if their stadium looks like a glorified summer league baseball diamond. He loves the 49ers for who they had — namely Jerry Rice. And he’s Canadian, so he really doesn’t understand anyway. He doesn’t like being in the dark, either (points if you get that reference.)

Side note: The first time I saw Jerry Rice lurking about the ESPN newsroom I swear I felt a little faint. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but he seems like a nice guy, one who should be my friend. I’m afraid if I start talking to him I’ll go all Chris Farley and start asking, “You remember that time you were in the  Super Bowl? That was awesome.”

And I assume the rest of the world isn’t too thrilled about seeing Tom Brady trot his funky bunch out there again to face Eli “Elite” Manning and his stable of giant-handed receivers.

It’s safe to say that the good folks at ESPN who are from around these parts are thrilled with the participants of the Super Bowl, except for the large contingent of Jets fans, who’ve thrown their support to the Giants. I’ve moved on, to bigger and better — and rounder — balls. (Teehee! You know what I mean.) I have found myself watching the NBA ad nauseum lately, even insignificant games. But at the Worldwide Leader, with access to every game every night, I watch whatever I want. Yesterday I watched the team I hate the most, the Los Angeles Lakers, get defeated by the Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land,” thank you Alice Cooper) Bucks. It was glorious. And needless to say, if Kevin Durant and the Thunder are playing, they’re on my TV. Same with the Clippers, unless their times conflict.

The NBA was my first pro-sports love, the sport that harvested my very soul during the late 80s and 90s. So it seems natural that once again, I’m able to name starters for  most teams, as well as sixth- and seventh-man alternatives for a lot of them.

But going back to the Super Bowl: As a semi-Cowboys fan, I shouldn’t say this. But I will. I am cheering for the Giants. Have been in every game except the NFC Championship, when my love for my bro-in-law Joel and my yet-to-know-it-yet BFF Jerry Rice flourished. I am not a good Cowboys fan. I realize this. I loved Clinton Portis, have cheered for the Steelers, and didn’t hate Donovan McNabb as much as I should have. I did, however, laugh when The Real Roy Williams broke Terrell Owens’ leg. But let’s not go off-topic.

I will watch the Super Bowl. I will probably enjoy the Super Bowl. But I think the Patriots are going to win, even if I really, really, really don’t want them to. My vehemence against a team doesn’t usually help it, case in point Every Lakers Championship Ever. The day the Spurs beat them for the 2003 Western Conference semifinals, I went outside to make sure the sky wasn’t falling. I’m not making this up.

But know this: not everyone in the ESPN newsroom is basking in the glory of an all-East Coast Super Bowl. There are a lot of Cowboys fans in the newsroom, though few of them come by geographically like me. There are also a lot of Eagles and Steelers fans. Even a few Bengals and Browns fans, and a fair share of Packer Backers. It’s a motley crew of fandom.

But if you don’t want to watch the Super Bowl, that’s cool, it’s on a competing network so I’m not going to try to force it on you. I will, however, politely suggest that you tune into the NBA this season. It’s fast-paced and fun, and strike-shortened, which gives it a gladiator quality: Only the strong will survive. So many more injuries than a typical year.

And there’s talk that Gilbert Arenas may be a Laker soon. Talk about taking a gun to a knife fight! Arenas AND Artest aka Metta World Peace. Wow.

Another blog for another time…

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Brushes with hoops fame and other basketball tales

Allen Iverson, the Only Answer

Allen Iverson, the Only Answer

I love basketball, and this is my favorite time of year for it. I finally become an expert after months of pretending. After Sunday, I’ll be able to find my Cinderella Fella and board the bandwagon.

It certainly won’t be a Big 12 school, I know that. Kansas is a shoo-in, and unless Baylor or Colorado gets crazy lucky, they won’t be making the tournament.

What we need is another George Mason run like they had in 2006. Tired of these big dogs.

But enough about that, I want to share some hoops-related anecdotes from my checkered history with the sport that I can’t play, but have always loved.

Nicolas’ slightly racist faux pas

Nick learned basketball from going to games and playing Nintendo’s “Double Dribble.” He loved it. But he was only 4 or so. Every parent has a story to tell about “That One Time, When My Kid Realized The Difference Between Races.” My story will be saved for a later time. In fact, if I get some feedback, this would be a great blog.

My brother, sweet, caring boy that he was, was enamored with basketball players. He was born in 85, so he got so see some of the best ever while a young boy. I don’t remember how or when this happened, I just know that in a public place, my bro observed some black men. He pointed at them, shouting “Dad! Look! Basketballers!” much to my stepdad’s shock and/or awe. Soon after, Nick made a friend, Delwyn, who was black. He didn’t call him a basketballer. I’m pretty sure my stepdad sat him down and gave him The Talk after the shouting incident.

My love for Preston Basketball

I went to Muskogee High School in Oklahoma. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of my hometown. I was always a little jealous of my sisters’ small school, Preston, in Okmulgee County. It’s a tiny, but active, district that graduates a lot of great students and athletes. My sister Natalie’s basketball team won state while she was there, and Lila’s team was pretty good too. Now, my nephew Jesse, Lila’s boy, is on a Preston team that is in the state basketball tournament this week. The Pirates beat the Pawnee Black Bears last night (Pawnee, home of OSU’s Keiton Page!) in the state quarterfinal game and is headed to the semifinals today.

I’ve been to more Preston basketball games than any other school. I walk in those doors and see my sisters’ names on the banners, and will soon see my nephew’s name, too, and I get verklempt. I love that tiny town. I love the smell of the concessions stand. I wish my school would’ve had a shade of the spirit that the Pirates do. Small-town hoops is crazy fun.

Chasing down Allen Iverson, nearly being stepped on by Chris Webber and stalking a working computer

I’ve covered one NBA game in my career. And I wasn’t even a reporter then, but a copy editor. Allen Iverson was coming to OKC with the 76ers while the New Orleans Hornets were playing in OKC after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I got my media pass to the game and ambled on into the Ford Center, terrified of what was going on, but trying my hardest to look like I was In The Know. Not easy for a 5-1 girl to do in a room full of giant men who were, in fact, In The Know.

I didn’t know where Press Row was, and I couldn’t find anyone to tell me. So I just walked to the courtside chairs and sat down on the side of the court, on the floor, and watched the first quarter. Allen Iverson’s scarred legs were right by my head. Dude had some major scars from years of abuse and surgery. My love for him grew tenfold, and his yeoman-like work ethic made me want to hug him. And then Chris Webber stepped out-of-bounds and nearly ran over me. Dude is TALL. Finally, my illegal spot was deemed unsafe, and I was ushered to press row. Finally. I watched the game, interviewed some folks, and was all ready to go meet Allen Iverson in the locker room, secretly being scared I would run into naked people and be forever embarrassed. I followed a crowd nervously, still dreading the naked thing, then got to a stopping point. There was ADRIAN FREAKING PETERSON, who was still playing football at OU, waiting to meet Allen Iverson. They made AD wait for AI. My confidence was dashed. If they’re not going to let him in, what are my chances? And if I did get in, we had that whole naked thing to deal with. I knew I would stare. So I settled for an interview with Peterson and went on my way, mental pictures in check.

Then I went to the press room. I sat down, wrote my story, and panicked because I had no idea how to send it back to the paper. Couldn’t get email access. Couldn’t get it to insert into our software system. I asked the guy sitting next to me what I should do. I didn’t know who he was at first. Turns out, it was the Oklahoman‘s Berry Tramel, one of the best sports columnists in the history of the world, much less Oklahoma. He was kind and helpful, but couldn’t figure out how I should send my story. So I went further down the line of busy reporters until Darnell Mayberry, now the NBA beat writer for the Oklahoman, and another fella helped me out. I felt like the biggest loser, but they made me feel less like a loser and more like a troubled little child. “Oh, look… she’s pathetic. Help her.” They were very nice.

My story got out, and the closest I came to actually meeting AI was listening in on an interview with his wife. But I had a blast.

I have plenty more basketball stories, such as how I dazzled men with my knowledge and then they got angry with me for knowing more than them and actually having a valid opinion… but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that it’s the MOST wonderful time of the year. Enjoy it, support your local small-town basketball team, find a Cinderella, and if you get a chance to meet a famous NBA player, don’t be so afraid of seeing him naked that you don’t go in the locker room.

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