"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa (Sports Network) --
I could do 12 more features, all on the NBA, and not run out of games, people or oddities about which to write before the playoffs wind down. Should the hardwood sweepstakes go to the max, the last game will be played on June 21st. The Olympics do not take that long and they involve most of the countries on the planet competing in multiple sports. The Crusades was fought in a shorter period of time and the French Revolution might have gone to the nobility had it taken this long.
The NBA playoffs are more than a series of contests between two teams vying for the opportunity to go on and do it all over again. They are an endurance test for the players, fans and networks that, together with David Stern's soldiers, think that more of less is better. Television rules. That is the undeniable truth. We can go to the moon and back in less time than it will take for the Los Angeles Lakers to prove to everyone in waiting that they are the best team in basketball.
Dr. J. provided a level of excitement during playoff time that has been rarely equaled.
There's more action in the local schoolyard than there is in these playoffs and, on a given day or night, a larger crowd watching. The NBA has achieved about the same ratings as they would garner from a special of Tiny Tim's greatest hits. The public has begun to turn its back on the sport sans Michael and the unending desperation is beginning to wear thin. Kobe Bryant is good, very good, but he is not Michael. Allen Iverson has the charisma of a rock and Shaquille O'Neal came close but couldn't turn the corner. Duncan, Hill, Robinson, Malone, Kidd, Williams, Carter and a host of others can play the game on the court but not the one that is so vital beyond the hoops. Endorsements aplenty, contributions to charities overflowing and lots of community work but they are not Jordan, Bird, Johnson or Erving.
Consequently, the NBA and the gods of television had opted to force-feed us what they have until we gag on it. At this rate, the playoffs ought to end just about the time that the next season gets underway. A nice segue.
June 21st. You start off watching the games of this past weekend by turning up the heat in the den, sunroom or living room and wind up taking the TV out onto the patio to view the championship series while barbecuing dinner.
Young stars, such as Iverson, will need to step-up during this elongated playoff period.
Three and four day breaks between games have become the natural order of things and taken a mediocre offering down to the level of wearisome and hackneyed. It is like being asked to see "The Postman" over and over again?until you learn to accept it. The best 3 out of 5 series played over almost a two-week period. What a great place to be selling Rustoleum!
The facts are these - Ted Turner's networks, TNT and TBS, saw their ratings dip 24% this season when putting the NBA on display. He would have more luck bringing Jane Fonda back to his box at the Braves' games, and to his bed, than he has attempting to recapture the lost audience. NBC was pretty close behind at a drop of 22%. The peacock's plumage is starting to fade and the color is gone from the ones that once flourished with the words National Basketball Association painted across them in dazzling Jordanesque shades of phantasmagoria, brilliance and vibrancy.
The response to all of this was to simultaneously take the players and the televised presentation of their games out of synch. No rhythm or flow for either. Nice. The networks are suffering and they, like the Titanic, are taking the passengers down with them. Or, perhaps it is vice-versa. Either way, the heyday of the NBA has come and gone with the only ones able to see it being the fans and the media.
The best bets these days are not the games that the Lakers play but the day out when an NBA playoff game is on, going to the movies or seeing what is on the other five hundred or so channels available to us. By the time the series you are watching winds down the players will be much older, probably bored and as anxious to get away from it all as you are.
Will Shaq lead the Lakers to another NBA Chambionship?
David Niven went around the world in a balloon, made numerous stops, encountered more adventures than Harrison Ford in all of his movies put together and did it all in eighty days, just about a month longer than these playoffs are going to take. As I understand it, we have premiere athletes here capable of running up and down the court for 82 games following a schedule created by Attila the Computer Schedule Maker and they are now told they need to rest 3 or 4 days between contests. To do what, film endorsement commercials, sign autographs, check out bank balances, re-read their contracts, have extended conversations with their agents, or learn to shoot foul shots? Whatever the choice, the decision to drag these playoffs out is like being asked to watch a bad four-hour movie whose plot might have been done in about 20 minutes. It was a decision that ranks right up there with playing golf during a lightning storm.
Is this going to be good or bad for the NBA? You gotta be kidding!