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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Five Reasons to Care about the NBA

This summer, America faced a national emergency as the NFL lockout dragged on through the summer months.  In the end, America breathed a sigh of relief as a labor deal was signed just in time to give us a full NFL season.  Meanwhile, the American public was barely aware that the NBA was also engaged in a lockout.  And even sports fans barely yawned as actual regular season games were canceled.  A deal was finally signed into place in time for the NBA to kick off its truncated season on Christmas Day.  Now, we're a little more than two weeks into the season, and many of you may still be giving a who-cares-shrug even as you read this.  I am going to give you five reasons why you should care about the NBA season this year.

1.  Football Season Can't Last Forever.  Yeah, NBA Commissioner David Stern would not approve of this being the #1 reason to care about his sport.  But, let's be honest.  Football is king in America.  But, on February 6, 2012, Americans will wake up and the Super Bowl will have been yesterday.  It will be seven more months until a meaningful football game is played.  Something needs to fill that void.  The NBA playoffs are a good candidate in the spring and early summer.  Like anything else, the playoffs are much better if you have paid enough attention to the regular season to care about the players and teams.

2.  New and Different.  Change is in the air.  The balance of power is shifting, particularly in the Western Conference.  The Mavericks, the Spurs and the Lakers will all flex their aging muscles at some point in the year.  But, if the playoffs started today, they would include the Trail Blazers, the Thunder, the Clippers, the Nuggets, the Grizzlies and the Jazz.  Based on last year's results and offseason moves, there is no reason to think any of these new and different teams will be going away quietly.  The Thunder and the Clippers are particularly fun teams to watch and have stars that are easy to like.

3.  NBA Makes Accountants Cool.  In the NFL, the salary cap and signing rules are simple.  In Major League Baseball, there are no rules.  Anything goes.  But, the NBA has a system that will make accountants the most popular guys around the water cooler when office banter turns to NBA rosters.  The new collective bargaining agreement is so complicated that you cannot have an intelligent discussion about a potential trade without a CPA on hand.  If you don't know any CPAs then keep a copy of this Grantland explanation and an abacus handy.

4.  Raptors in 3D.  The Toronto Raptors did not appear on my list of new and different teams to keep an eye on come playoff time.  But, the Raptors are making a splash this year by becoming the first NBA team to use a 3D logo on their baseline.  The logo is created by a company called LogoPaint.  Apparently, the logo looks 3D from the seats and on TV.  Check out this video from a preseason game.

5.  66 Game Season.  "We play to win the games."  Herm Edwards was right about the NFL, but in the NBA, many teams play to win just enough games to get into the playoffs.  Then the real season begins.  Well, this year there isn't time to laze around.  With sixteen fewer games this year, each game matters far more.  None of them can be taken for granted.  It will be a tough three months for the players, but it should be a fun three months for the fans.

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