Staples Center remains empty which means fans have to look elsewhere for their adrenaline rush.
So, its day 136 with no NBA. Well, OK, not exactly, but you know it feels like it! Normally, during the NBA off season, I go through a similar kind of withdrawal. Of course, during a normal off season I have a full season to look back on. Now, all we have is… I’m not even sure what we have. No one is.
Do we have a completed season? A partial season with a full playoff schedule? No regular season with a full playoff schedule? No regular season with a partial playoff schedule, or, God forbid, no regular season and no playoffs.
I’m sorry for even writing that!
My best guess at this point is that we will see the NBA playoffs, and some watered down version of the regular season. Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Each day we go without professional basketball however makes the likelihood of any basketball in the 2019-20 season less likely.
It’s that bad!
It’s so bad that I have now watched the entire 1984 NBA Finals match-up between the Lakers and Celtics. This is the Finals the Celtics won, so you can see I’m digging deep into the archives. Most surprising in that game seven was how good the Showtime Lakers played defense when they needed to. They forced the Larry Bird Celtics into at least three 24 second violations in the deciding game!
Of course, it wasn’t enough; the Celtics prevailed.
I also watched the 2010 NBA Finals against the same two teams. I remember watching that game seven and thinking, “Man, Kobe played really bad”. My opinion, back then, was based on him taking and missing a lot of shots. The Celtics had a plan and it clearly centered around not letting Kobe Bean Bryant beating them. Ray Allen played him well individually and the Celtics did a good job of crowding him any time he touched the ball.
That led to a less than spectacular 6 for 24 shooting game for Bryant.
However, he finished the game with 23 points to lead all scorers. In the fourth quarter he made 7 of 8 free throws and, this is honestly amazing, he had 15 rebounds! So, he did not shoot the ball well, but to say he played bad is 100% incorrect.
Anyway, like many of you, I have been watching basketball during this off time. But, now it’s gotten kinda bad.
Basketball games are special to me and I miss the game. Watching games where I know the outcome is still kinda fun because I catch things I missed. But, at the end of the day, I know the outcome which makes watching these older games… less satisfying. We watch sports for a lot of different reasons, no doubt. Top among them, for me anyway, is the great unknown.
We watch because, despite all the prognosticators and analysts, we have no idea how things are going to end. It’s that thrill of the unknown that keeps us glued to March Madness as we wait to see who the Cinderella team will be this year. It’s that possibility that everything is going to go right for your team this season that brings optimism and big crowds to most every MLB opening home game.
The power of “if” is a big reason we watch sports.
Take the 1985 NCAA Championships as the perfect example. Georgetown, led by Patrick Ewing, the the prohibitive favorite and justifiably so. They came into the tournament with a 30-2 record. They never dropped below #2 ranking in any poll and they had the #1 seed in the tournament. The closest any team came to beating them in the tournament was Georgia Tech, and they lost by six.
This team was dominant.
Villanova, on the other hand, was an eighth seed. They came into the tournament with a pedestrian 19-10 record and just barely managed a win against Dayton in the first round! Villanova was David to Georgetown’s Goliath. Georgetown belonged in the final game, Villanova was lucky to be there. This was going to be no contest.
Until, it was a contest.
If Villanova can make every shot they have a chance against Georgetown. But even then, everything would have to go their way. As it turned out, the Villanova Wildcats made 22 of 28 shots and 22 of 27 free-throws to win. The game is referred to by many as “The Perfect Game”.
Sometimes in sports, things like that happen. That’s why we watch!
If Villanova can make every shot…
If David Tyree catches that prayer from Eli Manning…
If Kawhi Leonard can just make this ridiculous shot over Joel Embiid…
If Sugar Ray Leonard can just, idk survive, maybe he has a chance against Marvelous Marvin Haggler…
Do not underestimate the power of IF.
Which is why watching anything that already happened is nice, but ultimately unrewarding. There’s no if. I needed an if fix and I was determined to find it. It was that pursuit that led me to… Flyball.
Now, do me a favor and guess at what Flyball is. No Google, no Bing, no asking, just guesses. What do you envision based on just the name? My guess would be something with elevation. Water Polo is often described as soccer in a pool. Maybe Flyball is basketball but in airplanes.
Honestly, that sounds amazing.
But no, Flyball does not include airplanes. Maybe you guessed that it involves a perfect combination of tennis and trampolines? Or NetBall and Trapeze? Maybe golf where each player wears stilts. No real flying in that last one, but it’s a great image!
You may be surprised to discover that Flyball is none of the above. in fact, the primary athlete in FlyBall are dogs. Wikipedia defines it this way, “Flyball is a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.”
It may not sound riveting, but Flyball offers the one thing we can’t get right now, the power of if. Unless you are a Flyball fan, you have no idea if the Four Paws Flyers would run the speedy whippet as the anchor in the relays. You would have no clue is the underdog (pardon the pun) Extremely Salty team from Edinburgh would have enough to claim the 2016 title.
We don’t know and that’s why I watched.
As riveting as the 2016 Finals were however, it was nothing compared to the drama of the 2019 Finals. Honestly, please, trust me on this and take about 15 minutes to watch the 2019 FlyBall Championships now.
Do it now!
Believe me when I say it has drama, it has records, it has 7,000 fans in attendance, it has announcers that are excited about what they’re watching. Of course, it also has one of the biggest things we are missing at the moment. The power of “if”. The allure of the unknown.
It has come to this NBA fans.
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!