Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I watched Game 5 of the NBA playoffs on Sunday night.

I considered it all day before actually tuning-in. I stopped being an NBA fan in the late 80s when I tired of Michael Jordan traveling and the officials never calling the infraction. Now it seems the NBA traveling rule has been erwritten to read: the more famous you are, the more steps you can take.

In the NBA, officials use "fouls" (illegal physical contact between players) as a way to control the flow and outcome of the game, and the league itself controls further the flow of the game with the insertion of television timeouts. Stoppage in play to accommodate commerce in the advertising industry.

Before tuning in, I assumed that the Los Angeles Lakers would win this match. The league (NBA) and the network (Disney) would instruct the officials to call the game in favor of the Lakers. This way, the Los Angeles fans would be happy to go home with a victory, the Celtics could win the championship in Boston, and (most importantly) the series would extend another game, generating a substantial income.

The "series" is the problem here. Why must the Lakers and the Celtics play seven games to determine which team is better? And why did the Celtics have to play ANY games after the season ended to prove they were the best team in the East?

The notion of playing a series to determine a champion is rooted in the legacy of baseball. A baseball team playing in competition is comprised of eight players and a pitcher. Each team has (generally) five pitchers in their rotation, so to see an adequate battle between the league champions, the teams should play a game with each of those pitchers plying his trade. Logically, the champion of Major League Baseball would be determined in a best-of-five series.

Basketball has no such division of talent. The same five guys make-up the core of the team, and those five guys play every game. There is not need to play multiple games in order to see which team is better.

So, I wasted three hours watching Game 5 of the NBA finals, knowing that the Lakers wuold win. And sure enough, all the fouls were called to LA's advantage, and fouls not called to the Celtics advantage were blatantly obvious. By suspending my grasp of reality, though, I was able to get excited now and then. All-in-all, though, it was a very boring experience, and it was aggravated by the constant intrusion of commercials during the game.

So, the series returns to Boston tonight where the Celtics will try to bring their incredible season to a fruitful conclusion.

Go Celtics! (I guess.)

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