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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Basic Biittner : NBA

Monday, November 19, 2007

Way back when, I used to follow the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the elite players like Bob Cousy, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson. and (especially) Wilt Chamberlain were just as much my heroes as any of my favorite baseball players like "The Mick."

Games were televised on Sunday afternoons on ABC - you know, one of the THREE t.v. networks. I was a Celtic fan for the same reason I was a Yankee fan - the team won all the time (11 championships in 13 seasons), and, because of that, they were usually one of the teams playing on television.

The Celtics' biggest rivalry was with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the battle-within-the-battle was the matchup of the teams' big men - Bill Russell of the Celtics and Chamberlain of the Lakers. So I would root for the Celtics to win, but for Chamberlain to score 40-50 points on his fade away jumper and make a decent percentage of his free throws, which he shot underhanded.

Near the end of each Celtic victory, long-time coach Red Auerbach would light up his cigar to signify that victory was theirs.

Ah, the good old days. The NBA (and the Celtic-Laker rivalry) had a brief return in the 1980s, thanks to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and their talented teammates, but unfortunately, those times have passed now, too, and the NBA has turned into - well, I don't know WHAT it has turned into.

I do know that not a great number of people - in these parts, at least - give a rip about the NBA anymore. Most basketball fans that I know find the high school and college games much more interesting and the players, with a few exceptions, the players and coaches better role models.

Here's where the NBA stands these days - the New York Knicks, once a proud franchise and cornerstone of the league, have become a daily soap opera - with sexual discrimination charges by employees, players skipping games and talking of blackmailing the coach, and a terrible "team" on the court for several years.

The Knicks' coach, Isaiah Thomas, was once an All-American player at Indiana University, then an Olympic and NBA champion. He also had a pretty good public image as an always-smiling team leader and in-charge point guard.

Since his retirement as a player, Isaiah has been a minor league owner and NBA coach and general manager. Unfortunately for him, he has ben an unqualified disaster in each position. He was the subject of the sexual discrimination suit and the blackmail threats by one of his players, the currently AWOL Stephan Marbury.

I would really like to get interested in the NBA again, mainly because "my" Celtics are off to a 6-0 start this season, behind the play of their new "Big Three" (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett), whose play has evoked memories of the original Celtic Big Three of Bird, McHale, and Robert Parrish.

I don't know, though. Much as I'd like to care, the NBA into a sad state of affairs - NBA - "Nothing But A ***holes."

Go Hawkeyes, Cyclones, Panthers, Braves, Bulldogs, Wolverines, Pirates and eagles!

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner