Faux National Basketball Association: Caveat Emptor,
Got Game? or Gotcha?
What was to be a Christmas gift for
all pro hoops fans happened on Dec. 25. Like Santa Claus, the NBA
returned to town. But unlike Santa Claus, this faux NBA was not as
gifted and gift-giving as the real NBA.
The lockout produced a truncated,
compressed National Basketball Association schedule that at times seems
as it was thrown together without any concerns about game quality,
players' health or fans' remorse.
Back-to-back-to-back-to-back is one
of the themes of this sorry season. Other themes include mental fatigue,
tired legs, weary bones, a bunch of even more injured players than ever
and ejected and dejected coaches and a schedule from hell.
Players nowadays decline more than
ever to speak to the media after games. Shooting percentages, minutes
played, enthusiasm, spirit, verve, excellence, effort--all seem to have
belonged to the other NBA, not this faux NBA.
Players reported late, out of shape.
Trades were made. Guys have struggled in many instances to fit in. For
some, there is doubt they ever will. A lack of any kind of a true
training camp contributed to all of this. Players bonding, chemistry
coming together, that was then.
Today, malaise rules most teams.
Energy baskets most of the time are reminders of times past, not
highlight reel stuff for today. Players are "out," "day to day,"
"uncertain for tonight's game." On the bench, players are in expensive
suits, scowling, smiling, subdued, but not "having game."
According to Washington coach Flip
Saunders following last Monday's practice, "I've never been a proponent
of [summer exhibition games]. I think you pick up too many bad habits
and a lot of things you think are going to be very easy [are not]. I
don't think I saw a charge all summer long."
Boston's Kevin Garnett is the poster
It's where we are -- we'll continue
to work at this thing and get it better, he said. It's not something
that we're just going to hope and pray and wish, and all the good things
like that. It's something that we're going to have to continue to work
on. This is not easy. If we made it look easy in the past, it's not easy
Coaches are castigating players for
lack of toughness, for being out of shape, for playing with an attitude
to stay out of harm's way. All await the time when the faux NBA becomes
the real National Basketball Association.
In the meantime, there is
"maintenance day," massage and cold whirlpool baths, more treatment for
sore muscles and swelled heads.
Quite frankly, I am tired of hearing
about it all. Quite frankly, there should have been some control over a
game that got away from us but still costs the same amount of money
(sometimes more) to attend.
Quite frankly, maybe some refunds
are in order.