We Be Hoopin’ Once Again


As the NBA sat perched on its own platinum pedestal, we, the wavering fans, sat in limbo and watched it teeter on the brink of becoming a sheer pariah in American sporting landscape.

Now, it is all but back from the cliff of fire and brimstone it so seemingly wanted to throw itself into.  Was the players or owners fault?  Who knows, who cares. 

What we do know now after going through both the NFL and NBA labor sagas of 2011, we shouldn’t be surprised.  Things like this happen in every walk of life, and every different profession.  All you have to do is look back a few years ago at the television writers strike to understand this.  If there was a favorite show of yours that had episodes missed because the writers weren’t there to write the scripts, you don’t have to be a sports fan to grasp what goes into the thought process of those fans when games are missed.

On the other hand, if you care to browse back to the two previous articles from this site you’ll see a slightly different story.  You see, when I was growing up it was a particular era of NBA basketball that helped turn me into a full-time fan.  Some like to call it the “Jordan/Bird/Magic” era, but in my time I’d like to refer to it as the “NBC era”.  I was catching on as a bright-eyed preteen toward the end of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s careers.  Bird’s career hampered at times by back injuries, and Magic, well we all know what happened to Magic.  But why NBC you ask?  It’s simple…

The theme music.

When NBC would televise national games on Sunday afternoon’s I couldn’t wait to hear the “NBA on NBC” theme song.  Oddly it was written by John Tesch.  Bet you didn’t know that.  Weird huh.  But why a theme song you ask?  It’s simple…

Marketing.

David Stern and everyone in the background who was acting as the puppeteers for the NBA knew they had something huge on their hands and had to capitalize on it.  Signing huge TV contracts was just the start of things, but it still had to be a good show for the entertainment of the fans, especially if they were going to buy all that neat officially licensed merchandise.  That’s where the theme music, the great Sunday afternoon matchups of Bulls v. Pistons, or Lakers v. Knicks came in.  It had to appeal to everyone at the time.  That appeal is what brought rabid fans out of the woodwork in Europe and China.  It was that appeal that made the NBA great.  It’s was a time of marketing entertainment, and the play of real basketball. 

As training camps near for the 2011-12 truncated season, I can’t help but give the NBA a little bit of a break.  I know I was salty, I was there when I wrote my piece, I was there when I tweeted snarky comments.  I believe now that if the NBA had gone away for a full season I wouldn’t have missed it all that much.  I also believe that I will have an interest in it when it returns on Christmas Day. 

I’ll forgive them, for now.  As long as they get back to hoopin’, making stupid, cock-eyed faces after every obvious foul committed, oh and of course, the Heat, Knicks, Lakers and Bulls on at least 4 nights a week. 

That’s the NBA we’ve come to expect.  Love it, or leave it.

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