As of last Sunday night, everyone’s favorite sport, football, is finished for the next several months. Don’t lie to yourself about it. Football is wonderfully entertaining to watch and if they (sports) were all being held at gunpoint you would gladly watch Basketball and Soccer and Hockey get gunned down before embracing football in both arms and whispering in its ear, “I won’t reeeaaally miss them that much as long as I always have you (a third of the year).”
Hypothetical killings aside, there are some reasons to watch the shunted aside children of the sports family. Especially Basketball.
Basketball comes in two forms. The classical art, great athletes doing wild, inconceivable things on a court version, which is the NBA. And the everyone kind of sucks, teams score less, it looks like they’re trying harder because their tiny little legs can’t cover that much ground so quickly version, which is NCAA Basketball. They’re both very fun to watch.
The NBA gets knocked a lot because the casual fan has some misconception about players and teams not trying hard until they get to the playoffs. This, “players are lazy” (racial undertones anyone?) argument is crazy to me considering how much competition there is for these guys’ jobs and how every night they are being scrutinized by not only their coach and team personnel department, but also the fans. Fans who can express their displeasure anywhere they damn well please on the internet. Suffice to say there isn’t much slacking off going on in the NBA. And if you want to see supremely talented players compete at the highest level our planet* has to offer then you turn to the NBA.
*The Monstars in Space Jam do not travel to Earth. It has something to do with a problematic space visa.*
The other side of the coin with the NBA being labeled as a bunch of lazy players collecting paychecks until they have to start trying in the playoffs is the idea that NCAA Basketball is all about hustle and the desire to win. Umm yeah, college basketball gives off that appearance only because it can’t hold a candle to the athleticism and skill that every single player in the NBA has.
It’s like in baseball when some hack sportswriter says that some shitty white shortstop (ex. David Eckstein) is the real MVP of the team because of grit and heart and intangibles. No, the shitty white shortstop only displays this grit and heart because he’s not as good at baseball as his peers. It looks like he’s trying so hard because baseball does not come as easily to him, which is not a good thing for him or his team.
So in NCAA BBall, a few of the guys you’ll see out there playing will show enough promise or are obviously gifted enough to get a chance in the NBA, but for the most part you are watching good players whose careers will either end once they exhaust their eligibility/graduate from their school, or they’ll have to find another lesser league to make a living in which will most likely be outside the USA. That was a very long aside though. To get back to the point, even though they might not be NBA quality, all of these college players are incredibly good at basketball and the NCAA puts out a perfectly good, watchable product. But it can’t even be compared with the NBA when it comes to level of basketball being played. They are two completely different animals.
Some of the best things about watching college ball are the best things about any imperfection. It’s more realistic. Where the NBA seems like some master craftsman deigning to show you how good they can make something look. College ball is going to make you roll around in the muck and remember what it is to have to fight for something because you haven’t been handed all the advantages. Because that’s usually how it goes in life.