NBA vs. NCAA

Yet another buzzer-beating clutch shot in the NCAA tournament to serve as a reminder why this tournament can compete with a gorgeous weekend after a miserable winter (this time it was Michigan State over Maryland at the buzzer – a shot by a man named Luscious!).   The highlight reels from this tournament can hardly keep up with themselves, though Hubie Davis and Dick Vitale can probably agree that Ali Farokhmanesh’s 3 pointer to finish off Kansas is maybe the most stunning moment so far. Or maybe it is St. Mary’s Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell’s equally impressive and improbable 11th hour shots to upset Villanova.  And maybe the best  moment hasn’t happened yet.

In trying to figure out why I am so drawn to March Madness but have no real interest in the NBA, while many others  prefer the NBA, I’ve realized it’s all about suspense. The same thing that has driven me to watch every British police show and most horror movies ever made is also what keeps me addicted to this tournament. You just never know what is going to happen. It is also why I almost never find baseball boring, even if nothing seems to be “happening,” because like any true fan knows, in baseball especially, anything can happen at any moment, and it might be something you’ve never seen before. Baseball is nine (or more) innings of tense, pregnant pauses. And it is why hockey is mesmerizing – it is one long, fast paced hustle you have to keep up with that might surprise you at any moment.

I assumed this was a universal reason to love sports, but I’ve been discovering the last few years that this is not the case.  For some, watching professionals with superior, near super-human skills, is paramount, and more engaging than any suspense or natural enthusiasm and energy of an amateur March Madness game.   But the NBA always seems so sluggish to me, there is no real hustle, there is no living and dying with every shot. It is possible I am jaded and have lost interest because the Knicks have been who they are for the last decade. I certainly lived and died with the Knicks in the late 90’s.  Recently some brilliant person decided it would be a great idea to recapture the best moments of those  years in a movie about Reggie Miller. I will not be watching it.  So, maybe the Knicks and I have changed but the NBA has not, it is certainly possible.

I am open to coming back into the NBA fold, and maybe having the Nets play down the street in a few years will help that.  Especially if the new stadium complex isn’t too hideous (please Mr. Ratner, learn from your Metro Tech & Atlantic Center mistakes).  And LJ’s 4-point play in 1999 against, of course, Reggie Miller & Co., is one of my most vivid emotional memories (yes, ever). But March Madness provides those in spades. When Christian Laettner made his famous shot against Kentucky in 1992,  he gave just another example, albeit an exceptional one, why this tournament  is so completely seductive.

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4 Responses to “NBA vs. NCAA”

  1. Haron Says:

    Like the Olympics, the NCAA tournament provides a constant companion while it is on. (Even though the tournament is far from over, I’m already wondering what I’ll do with myself until next weekend??) As you wrote, anything can and will happen during each day of March Madness. And the same is true of the Olympics.

    On the other end of the spectrum, the seven game playoff format found in professional sports, like the NBA, has very little uncertainty on a day-to-day basis. The only true do-or-die moments happen during the 7th game of a playoff series. In the NBA playoffs there are 15 series, and the potential tension is spread out over two months. The NCAA tournament seems like such a jolt since it packs in 63 of these moments into three weekends. (Throw in a 64th if you count the new play-in game.)

    Why do I enjoy watching the NBA? Well, the word “watching” is actually inappropriate. I rarely watch games anymore. Instead, I’m sucked into the season-long story arcs and dramas. It’s really the sports equivalent of a soap opera. “The NBA – It’s Operatic.” Truthfully, I get more excited by trades, free agent rumors, salary cap issues, and collective bargaining agreements, than I do about individual games.

    Of course, I still feel a flutter or two when Steve Nash hits the court. (And that has nothing to do with my Victoria bias, I swear!)

  2. Geoff Hurst Says:

    deux points! How did the NBA ever come up with a plan to abandon NY/NJ to the 2 worst franchises in the North America for nearly a decade!? Tell me it aint so…

  3. ida Says:

    Well put Haron. I am also already going through serious withdrawal (just from yesterday!) and am sad it will be over in a couple of weeks. Same thing when the Olympics were over. I guess there aren’t too many (or any?) other sports where the amateur and professional levels can be compared like this, so it’s why it’s just so striking. I really wish I was still into the NBA. I hate the Dolans.

  4. car locked Says:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this matter here on your web page.

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