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Jump, Dunk, Three. Lay-up, lay-up, lay-up.

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network

Someone well versed in rap and/or hip-hop can certainly take that and run with it musically although, to many, there is a built-in oxymoron concerning either and/or referring to that as music. We?ll leave that for another day.

The sport of basketball is now engaged in by far superior athletes than those of yesteryear but participants whose talents, for the most part, are limited while being highlighted and admired. A contradiction in terms you are thinking? Not really. They jump higher, have more talent due to the domination of African Americans who are, simply stated, better at what is required of them in the collegiate and professional ranks, and do all those things that the crowds love. They rise above the rim like exquisite birds in flight. Their movements are symbolic of the most practiced members of the ballet, poetry in motion. They clutch the basketball, a spheroid with a maximum circumference of 78 cm (30.7?), around the channels at 29? ? to 29? ?, across the channels 29 5/8? to 29 7/8? as if it were an apple.

Then they float on air and over the outstretched hands of their opponents placing the ball in the basket as though there they were simply depositing the peach that give birth to the original idea for the game.

Their assortment of shots extends itself to the jump shot from anywhere on the floor, in front of or beyond the three-point arc, to the lay-up, challenged or not. That is it. That is the game of basketball today.

Jump, dunk, three?lay-up, lay-up, lay-up.

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was a four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Champion.

The set shot of days of old has gone the way of 33 1/3 LP records, dial phones and the Model-T. The give-and-go is analogized to a burglary at a convenience store ? give us the money and then we gotta go. The pick and roll equates to walking into the Joseph A. Banks or Big ?n Tall, Armani or Ralph Lauren boutique to select, to pick, what they want without hesitation and then taking out a roll that could choke a horse to pay for it. Simple.

The game of basketball, particularly in the NBA, has evolved into hand to hand combat. It is a matter of full body contact, precipitated by the Boston Celtics of decades past as a means of balancing the talents and strengths of one Wilt Chamberlain, the strongest man I have ever met or played against. The NBA turned a blind eye to that and condoned it. The hand check was summarily created. Today, the sport is as much a wrestling match as it is one of anticipated elegance and artful dexterity.

It has deteriorated to such a degree that what the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan effectively did to save it from total demise cannot be sustained by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O?Neal, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash. And, as the ad for the PGA states, these guys are good!

Which brings us to the question of who is really watching the NBA Playoffs today? Only the most loyal fans of the sport and those whose teams are representing their respective cities. Did you rush home to catch Detroit and Cleveland, San Antonio and Utah? I kind of doubt it.

David Stern
David Stern has been the NBA Commissioner since 1984

Has David Stern, the sport?s commissioner, given credence to the postulate that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, deterring forward movement with suspensions that are mere slaps on the hands coupled with losses of wages that are meaningless? Why and how did the sport allow itself to sink to the level of necessitating and condoning the actions that might, for others, mandate arrest or termination? Stern held back someone?s allowance for a week, and then he grounded them for a few games. His fatherly, yet king-like role, has not enhanced anything at all?nor deterred the negative to any substantive degree.

In a country that espouses freedom of speech, our professional sports have muzzled their participants. Silence is golden and it will save a player tens of thousands of dollars if he does not speak out regarding, for example, the less than accomplished performance of a referee, umpire or judge. Grown men being paid millions of dollars annually and they are stifled, suppressed and muted if they are not casting accolades to the waiting corps of journalists. Television has just portrayed the ineptitudes of the referee over and over in replay but condemnation by those who suffered most from the pathetic performance of others is smothered, unacceptable and penalized.

You?ve come a long way baby!! Not.

They can jump, run, dunk, hit the three and add character, finesse and entertainment to lay-ups in order to make them worthy of standing ovations but the fact of the matter is that this is basketball as we know it today. This is the NBA. It is the schoolyard brought indoors. A sport where college is a local stop on what would otherwise be a long ride to a diploma. Ask around to find out how many team members actually graduated during the reign of John Thompson at Georgetown. See if you can locate SAT scores. Grade point averages are out there somewhere in a buried space capsule to be opened decades, maybe light years, from now.

It should be Detroit taking on San Antonio in the Finals. Can you feel your heart racing and skipping a beat right now? Cancel dinner, forget the movie schedule, no sense checking HBO for shows you might have missed and tell the kids you will take them out in a few weeks. I don?t think so.

Look at it this way. They added the three point line to make the game more interesting, create excitement and increase scoring. Yet, shooting percentages for it are not impressive, it does not add excitement until the team is down by 2-3 with 4 seconds to go and both colleges and the WNBA score more points per game than the NBA. Your witness.

NBA Finals or March Madness? You gotta be kidding!