I never would have predicted it. I have no idea how it happened. But, with some crazy good playoffs series, it’s the best thing in sports right now.
People are stoked on the NBA again.
One look at the crowds proves the point. Basketball fans used to be more concerned with pulling their best tennis fan impressions than actually enjoying the games, but now we’ve got arenas where seats are closer to the court and have more of an impact on the game than in any other sport. We’ve got Warriors fans that look more like hard- partying college students than Bay Area yuppies. Detroit fans are more pumped on Chauncey Billups’ smooth stroke than Rasheed Wallace after picking up a 100-pack of swishers. Hell, even Utah fans look like they can buy beer within state lines. But it can’t just be the particularly good playoff matchups that have led to the NBA’s highest overall attendance ever.
It might be because the first quarter of Major League Baseball always seems like an extended preseason, with every franchise trying to get a full lineup together in order to start playing for real in July. If the Brewers are five and a half games up, the season obviously has yet to start. Without a doubt, part of it is because a majority of baseball fans feel like punching Roger Clemens and the Yankees’ front office in their collective groins.
It could be due to the letdown felt by purchasers of May’s most anticipated sporting event: Mayweather versus De La Hoya. The fight was admittedly an excellent display of what boxing is and should be (although I was thoroughly shit-faced for all twelve of the anticlimactic rounds), but let’s be honest: No one wants to see a couple of textbook fighters put on a clinic. I mean, for 50 bones on Pay-Per-View, I want to see some fool do his best Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot impression as his head pops off and flies into the crowd.
The only other sport playing right now is the long-lost NHL. For all of you out there who aren’t Molson-swilling flannel enthusiasts, Buffalo is playing Ottowa and Detroit is going up against Anaheim in their respective conference finals. Both should be good series, but a coked-out Wayne Gretzky dangling Mario Lemieux’s firstborn off a balcony would get more fans to throw money at hockey than anything the NHL’s hopeless PR department has.
In any case, basketball is back. Even the Eastern Conference is going to have some close games this round, and with the notable exception of the geriatric playing style of the Spurs, there are some exciting teams going deep. With a good combination of first round beatdowns (sorry T-Mac, you should have blamed it all on Bonzi Wells for not averaging 20-plus in the series) and just enough frontrunners still around to keep the odds hot in Vegas, the road to the NBA Championship is going to lock up a lot of fans for years to come. Just don’t be surprised when I’m drinking Mad Dogs with Rasheed to celebrate some fresh rings for Detroit’s finest.