Wednesday, May 24, 2006

NBA: Nothing But Ads

There was a time, in the mid-90's or so, that basketball was far and away my favorite sport. But over the past ten years, I have come to notice that the games have become like one giant Sprite commercial with a few dunks thrown in. It is the most blatant pander-to-the-tv-money-and-advertising-dollars league that has ever disgraced this country with its presence. The players are perhaps the most distasteful, the tickets are beyond affordable for anyone who wants to be able to actually see, and it is only a matter of time before the NBA goes all Premiere League on us and starts putting ads on uniforms. Yes, college basketball is more or less watchable, but the NBA just makes my head hurt. And here’s why:

1. A 48 minute game should not take 3 hours. Remember back in the day when games took about 2:15 or so? Regular season games between Charlotte and Portland might be over that fast, but God forbid you try watching a game that anyone cares about. If the game is moving too fast, they CREATE a timeout to sell ad time. If the game is close, every “20 second” timeout called at the end is actually a “2 minute” timeout. And, you know what? That Budweiser ad was funny when I saw it in the first quarter, but not the 18th time I’ve seen it since halftime.

2. The first three quarters are irrelevant. It drives me nuts when people insist on watching an entire NBA game form start to finish. Look, with 6 minutes left in the fourth, it will be a 7 point game. I guarantee it. I think shortening the game to like, 7 minutes would have little effect on the reults. Becasue, basically, the score is tied at that point anyway.

3. The end of the game takes an hour. Now, I understand that fouling and timeouts are necessary to create dramatic moments such as buzzer-beaters and clutch foul shots. So I can’t complain about that. What I can complain about is every timeout at the end of the game lasting a minimum of two and a half minutes and taking commercial breaks before foul shots. Pay the players less and you won’t have to sell so much goddam airtime. It’s not like they deserve it.

4. The playoffs last a year and a half. The NBA Playoffs are like a James Bond Movie. You are led to believe, in your suspension of disbelief, that James Bond might actually not make it this time. Oooh, maybe that giant laser saw really will cut him in two. Kind of like Oooh, Sacramento won a couple of games at home, maybe they really will beat the Spurs. But you know goddam well that Bond is going to live and that Tim Duncan is going to be playing well into May. Back when series were five games, you got an occasional upset. But now? C’mon! There is no need for me to see the Pistons beat Milwaukee four times. Even the Phoenix-Lakes series was a foregone conclusion. And do you remember when they used to play playoff games on back-to-back days? What a concept. But no. No. More ad time needed, more games added, and series now take up to 18 days to tell me what I could have told you on November 3. The final four or five teams are more or less a forgone conclusion by the All-Star break. If you insist on including eight teams, make the first two rounds best of five and the last two best-of-seven. If you want to really make the playoffs interesting, take each division winner, plus one “Wild Card,” like baseball does and play your best-of-sevens. THAT would be a great playoffs.

5. The Players are not likable. Most of the players are jackasses. It’s really like a league full of Terrell Owens, except most of them lack his stand-out talent. Shaq, for instance, is held as a pillar of sportsmanship simply because he never gets arrested or does drugs. Great standards. Even the NFL has quarterbacks who, unless your name is Michael Vick or Daunte Culpepper, are generally Golden-Boy pillars of the community. But the NBA is hard-pressed to find a single star not named LeBron or Dwyane that is acceptable to Middle America.

Yes, I know, the league will continue to prosper as long as the people eat it up. Much like so many other disgusting popular phenomenons like American Idol and Maxim. I really don’t ever watch unless I’m in a bar where I can distract myself form the horrible disgrace on the television with a stiff drink. Get a clue, NBA. Stop pandering to the money and put out a decent product. Because, eventually, your bubble will burst.


At 3:25 PM, Blogger Tara said...

Most of those things you've listed are fragments of why I don't watch any sports. I never could understand how they could chop up the last minute of a game to make it last five. I'm only interested in baseball, and I have to be at the actual stadium to appreciate it.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Johnson said...

Dude, I agree. I can't stand to watch the fuckin NBA anymore. I went to a Heat game with Jenny a couple of years ago and it sucked. Do they always have to have some sort of obnoxious rap music or beat playing in the background?

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous rumandpopcorn said...

For the most part I agree, this is the first year I've watched much of the playoffs in a long time, because (up until last night's snoozefest) the product on the floor was actually interesting this year. I think the NBA is beginning to improve things after going horribly wrong the last seven or eight years. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

But yeah, actually going to NBA games? Kind of sucks.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger AlienCG said...

I've never been into NBA Basketball, and now they're not really endearing themselves to me now. I gotta agree with you, Dade.

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous J said...

This is really just a general critique against tv & sports, not the NBA. Change the words "NBA" and "basketball" to whatever other sport and its the same thing. Football & baseball both take more time...the NBA's not the only place where tv timeouts exist (though they should be realistic and call 20 sec timeouts 320 sec timeouts).

Ironically enough, this yr's version of the playoffs has by general consensus been the most interesting and intriguing in ages (with highest ratings in awhile I believe). Three Game 7's in the 2nd round? This yr's final 4 is as good and as interesting as any--unlike James Bond realistically any team could conceivably win (I'll take Mavs over Heat).

I'm not a big NBA fan, but WD you are waaaay more knowledgeable than to say "pay the players less for less commercials" or these other things mentioned. You know that longer playoffs means more $. And you are watching and writing a blog about it...point, set, match NBA.

Granted, no one ever needs to watch anything before the 3rd quarter unless its simply a form of diversion in an otherwise uneventful Wed night in May.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger minijonb said...

A friend is taking me to a WNBA game in a few weeks so I can see a real basketball game, not this NBA Sprite commercial crap. Mmmm... chicks jumping around the court... I can't wait =;-)

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Ashburnite said...

I totally agree- and feel the same way about the NFL. I love college games (hello, Penn State), but refuse to sit through any pro games.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, but let me just say this - if you never go to another game, you will never, and I mean NEVER be a fuzzy red dot in the background of a photo of some guy dunking which will be placed on the cover of a cardboard folder selling for $3.99 and being marketed to 4th and 5th grade kids.

I'm just saying is all...

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous pravda77 said...

"Pay the players less and you won’t have to sell so much goddam airtime"

What about paying the team owners and NBA corporate profiteers a little less? Aren’t they responsible for bringing in all the advertisements and suspending game time?

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Cliff said...

again I will make my point here..Does basketball drag out games a bit with advertising, sure, what sport doesn't?...but the NBA plays 82 games and four rounds of playoffs...your favorite spectator sport, Baseball, plays 162 games and still has 3 rounds of playoffs. IMO THAT seems ALOT more boring and drawn out than the NBA. Because a RD 2 series between the Mavs and Spurs, or even Pistons-Cavs, is 100 times more watchable than a completely meaningless mid-September Royals-Tigers game.

And who the hell cares if you need to like the players to watch the sport? I could care less about what these people do off the court, or how well spoken they are. (Althought I do love Santana.)I don't tune in to watch the Truman Show, I want to watch fucking basketball. Go score 50 and then screw 26 girls in the parking lot for all I care. Wilt and Magic did it every night and we didn't seem to care, but Michael Vick gets an STD and all of a sudden we're judging his character? (Marcus Vick, now he's an idiot, but if he can catch a football sign him up Dolphins!)

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Andy said...

Dude, just relax. Playoffs entertain me entirely for the following reason:

My hatred of 85% of the players allows me to come up with hilarious versions of their characters that makes them incredibly stupid, mean, annoying, etc.

Then while watching the game with friends we just do their dialouge. It's a good time, I promise.

For instance, every time you see Chauncey Billups and he has that "duhr, duhr" retard look on his face, just say anything that a retarded person might say. You'll laugh for hours.

My biggest problems is the obvious ref problems. Those guys throw so many games and it's so obvious. It's like they're pistons with "PISTONS MUST WIN!" scrolling through their brains in an LED display.

Oh and Ashburnite, you went to Penn State?! I went to Penn State! Hooray for Penn State!

At 10:02 AM, Blogger quint said...

while all your points make sense, the nba is definitely the most exciting it has been since the 80's. almost every game comes down to the last show, scores are in the 110's, and we get the added bonus of not having to see kareem and kurt rambis in short shorts.

the last remaining nba fan

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

If anyone has a right to be upset at the NBA it is me. I worked for one of thier fine fine fine, and very cheap franchises one winter of yore. The regular season really is too long but then again it is better than watching baseball in April, or May for that matter. I will say though, the playoffs have been entertaining this year, and even a bit last year. The playoffs are even better now that the Spurs (can anyone name a more boring champion?) and Lakers are out. Its good to see new blood out west in the Suns and Mavs. The east is a rematch of last year, but each the pistons team ball is fun to watch, and the Heat have GP and seeing GP get a ring would be awesome.

My cure-all for sports. Baseball, if it is snowing at your championship for a "summer" game, your season might be too long. We could really cut out April and half of September or even all of September. Everyone switches to Football anyways.

Basketball, create a Premier League. No not the advertising aspect but create a 2nd tier league for teams that consistently are cellar dwellars. This would give fans, owners and players more incentive to play harder, or as they do in college, for the name on their chest, not on their back.

Football, uh, no real problems here. Timeouts can be anoying but so can Super Bowl Referee's. Oh, and if you've never gone to an NFL game for, well a contender, go! They are really one of the funnest sports events you can go to.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger jenjen said...

I'm just saying. Watching on tv does seem drawn out and I do get upset when I have to wait 10 minutes for the 1 minute ending....but floor seats at the Lakers goes by as fast as 2 beers. I just don't understand it. Like there is some camera delay or something. As soon as I sit down, spill one beer, go get another beer on the other side of Staples because they won't serve me, and return, the God damn game is over. I hate the Lakers anyways. Oh yeah and my sister was dating Brian Cook last year. Our family joke, if she married him, she would be Brook Cook. cute. Luke Walton, Devon George, and Cook share an apt. in Manhattan Beach. She said they were the most boring, gayest, dorks ever.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Diesel said...

Shaq, for instance, is held as a pillar of sportsmanship simply because he never gets arrested or does drugs. Great standards.

Your most prescient point is also one that can be made about sports in general. As a former sportswriter, the thing I resent the most is the sliding scale of expectations for athletes. Sure, society is always partly to blame for fucking these guys up with adulation at an early age, but we should still expect more than the absence of horrible actions to qualify someone as a "good guy."

At 2:46 PM, Blogger White Dade said...

Tara - Live baseball is way better than baseball on TV> BUt I'll still take TV baseball ahead of TV basketball any day.

Johnson - It's BASKETBALL. Were you expecting them to play Hank Williams?

Ali - Yes, the NBA is getting a LITTLE better this year. But I still think the title is a foregone conclusion and we're really just wasting everyones time.

Alien - You are missing absolutely nothing.

J - Baseball goes on as long as it has to. They do not manufacture more time to sel lTV (there is a mandatory amount of time between innings/pitching changes that doesn't change depending on the viewership of the game. Also, there are no "TV timeouts). The NFL is once a week and more or less a religious experience, so the legnth of games never gets many people upset. And I watch the playoff games at abar, with friends, as a social event. I have watched exactly one quarter at my house without the presence of another person and/or an alcoholic beverage. If nobody's going out for the Heat game tonight, I most likely will not be watching it.

Mini - I hope oyu like lesbians

Ash - Yeah. Penn State basketball. What a sport.

Anon - Yeah. Nor will I ever be in the background in Jerry Maguire.

Pravda77 - You make a good point in that if players were paid less, the owners wouldn't neccessarily drop prices. Just hoard more $ for themselves. That oculd be a whole topic in and of itself.

Cliff - You're comparing a playoff game to regular season baseball. I owuld watch playoff baseball ahead of playoff basketball any day (impossible, but homr me). So would I watch Roayls-Tiges head of Raptors-Magic. And I never said the NBA regular season was too long, just the playoffs.

Andy - I'm going to have to try that. The only way to make watching this shit bearable.

Quint - If you like basketball better now, well, we cannot debate taste.

Joe - Yeah, baseball could go back to 144 games and nobdoy would care. But baseball is a backdrop to summer, so I like its long season.

JenJen - If I can have a lot of money and hot girls around me all the time, call me a dork all you want.

Diesel - I tihnk there were just more cover-ups back in the day. Players now may be BETTER behaved becasue they are under more of a microscope. Doesn't make them any better of people, though.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Cliff said...

"But I still think the title is a foregone conclusion and we're really just wasting everyones time."

Humor me, who's the inevitable champion?

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Johnson said...

"It's BASKETBALL. Were you expecting them to play Hank Williams?"

No, my issue isn't with the genre of the music. I just don't think it's neccessary to be constantly bombarded with music while watching a game. I can understand every now and then, but it's continuously played throughout any NBA game. Hearing some loud ass Kanye West or other song during the last two minutes of a game takes away from the moment in my opinion. Just another reason why college b-ball is about a million times better than the pros. Oh and to the person who said they want to watch the WNBA to see real basketball and hot chicks, dude, what WNBA are you watching? All I see are mannish looking chicks spastically flailing around and struggling to hit any shot over 15 feet.

At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Sue Bird is hot when she doesn't have a jersey on. Granted, Dade and I have had this debate before, of who's better? WNBA or Boys High School Basketball team. I'd take boys team 7 out of 10. Theyd kill on the boards and block a lot of shots.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger T. said...

I agree with most of this, but how can you say the 7-game series doesn't give us upsets anymore? Pistons vs. Lakers anyone?


Post a Comment

<< Home