Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Fans’ double standard a sham

With good guys like Duncan, Robinson playing, NBA Finals supposedly too boring

June 18, 2003



We're all a bunch of hypocrites.

We say we want our pro athletes to be clean-cut and classy. We say we like our superstars to be humble and hard-working. We say we like our champions to be devoid of small minds and big mouths.

Then, when we finally get an NBA champion with all those wonderful qualities, you know how we reward them? By turning the channel.

That massive clicking sound you've been hearing during the past two weeks was the American public switching from the NBA to something far more interesting -- like the lost episodes of The Ropers.

This just in: Your newly crowned champions, the San Antonio Spurs, so enthralled the American public that the NBA Finals were the lowest rated since the 1981 championship series was shown on tape delay.

Given a choice of (1) Antiques Roadshow, (2) The Joanie Loves Chachi Reunion and (3) Game 6 of the NBA Finals, America would have voted the NBA Finals No. 4. The last time we saw sports TV ratings this low was when Barry Milligan did play-by-play of the UCF-Troy State women's volleyball match on Sunshine Network.

Remember when we used to say the NBA had an image problem, that too many players were gun-toting, pot-smoking, coach-choking malcontents and miscreants? We didn't like Allen Iverson's tattooed arms. Or Latrell Sprewell's braided hair. Or Rasheed Wallace's scowling face.

We claimed we wanted athletes instilled with humility instead of those who cause humiliation. We said we wanted character instead of characters.

We were fooling ourselves.

We really didn't want all those nice things; we only wanted to think all those nice things. We liked the idea of virtue more than virtue itself.

Now, there is an outcry from NBA critics because the Finals supposedly were too boring, because the story lines were too mundane, because the Spurs were too -- are you ready for this? -- vanilla.

We complain about the lack of teamwork and selflessness, yet we shun a championship team that possesses all of those attributes we claim to desire.

In this era when throwback jerseys are all the rage, San Antonio is led by a throwback superstar. Tim Duncan, aka The Big Fundamental, actually uses the backboard and throws bounce passes to teammates cutting in the lane. And get this: He not only went to college, he stayed in college.

"Tim's one of the all-time great teammates," veteran Spurs guard Steve Kerr told reporters during the Finals.

How can it be that David Robinson, one of the greatest and most honorable players in NBA history, can go out with a championship, and, yet, we say he is uninteresting?

Let's be honest. We'd much rather watch a crass, cross-dressing Dennis Rodman talk dirty, grab his crotch and head-butt referees.

It's time to stop asking what's wrong with the NBA.

The better question is this: What's wrong with us?

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