Call Me Ishmael

5 Jun


This may be a bit of a departure from my title but…

What’s happened to the NBA?

Does anyone out there like basketball? Is anyone out there a real student of the game?

If so, has anyone noticed what I have noticed over the last decade or so?

What happened to dribbling?

And I don’t mean keeping the Gatorade from spilling down your chin after a long winded and grueling stretch of playing the game…I mean the kind of dribbling that involves bouncing the ball with your hand (only one at a time) while moving up and down the basketball court…you know, the most fundamental skill involved in playing the game of basketball.

Why are today’s NBA players allowed to carry the ball around the court like it’s a piece of luggage or a new style of men’s handbag?

Has anyone else noticed this but me?

Remember when you had to bounce the ball with your hand on top of the ball? And how that was pretty difficult, especially if you wanted to use your other hand…the one that wasn’t very good at doing anything? And remember how whenever you thought you’d try to put your hand under the ball and roll it over to the top just to make it a little easier someone would blow a whistle and charge you with traveling, or “palming the ball” or “carrying the ball” and that would be what was called a turnover and so the ball would be unceremoniously taken from you and given to the other team?

Watch an old NBA video of Bob Cousy or Jerry West or Walt Frazier bringing the ball up the court and you’ll positively die laughing at how silly they look doing all of that old fashioned “dribbling”…go ahead I dare you.

Then watch today’s NBA players…Is it just me or do they all look like NASCAR automobiles out for a ride while holding a ball out the side window on their way to a 10 car pileup underneath the basket? And if that isn’t bad enough, Then it’s off for a free-throw where they pause to catch their breath before standing Queequegesque at the foul line and tossing up a brick that clangs from the backboard prompting handshakes and high fives all around from their Rokovoko island teammates.

Then off they go to do it again and later with the score at a whopping 65-62 with 10 seconds left in the game that’s 3 hours old, we all call this defense!

Is this just me? Because I can’t stand to watch anymore. Perhaps it’s because I have grown older and am just out of touch with the “newness” of the game. I remember when I was young listening to my father lament about how not enough baseball players played the game like DiMaggio anymore…

I have always loved playing sports and I have always loved to watch sports and every once in a while I like to write about sports…but I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to watch them now…they just don’t play any games like they used to and I know that tattoos are in and cool and everyone has them and that not many if any of today’s NBA fans would understand my literary references to Moby Dick but when it comes to sports… whatever happened to practice and rules and gamesmanship and skill?!

Today’s preparation for a career in sports seems to simply be…make yourself a physical giant among men, decorate your body and then praise the lord!

How long before athletes start tattooing themselves with advertisements?

Okay, I admit, I’ve just gotten too old to appreciate today’s sports and how they are “played”…

So call me Ishmael and give my heart  a tattoo, because Mr. Coffee, I guess, I’ll always have you.

6 Responses to “Call Me Ishmael”

  1. Mike June 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Dribbling today is to dribbling back-in-the-day
    as writing today is to writing back-in-the-day.

    Last week I was talking with a high school English teacher and I mentioned the difficulty some of my students have writing a clear, concise sentence. She told me that they have been told by the experts not to teach grammar explicitly. Grammar should be taught as mini-lessons as needed. She’s a grammar teacher so this is very painful and frustrating for her. “Learning the rules” is no longer emphasized and “making up the rules as you go” is pretty popular with far too many.

  2. Jennifer Barricklow June 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    I gave up the NBA a long time ago, when it started looking more like a rugby match or some kind of relay race (big guys get the ball, run to one end of the court; other big guys get the ball, run to the other end of the court; repeat). The WNBA is much more like basketball as I remember learning the sport. Too bad they aren’t broadcast as widely.

  3. Jae June 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Interesting. I haven’t liked basketball for a long time and I’m wondering if this is the reason why. Great food for though post, thanks!

  4. W E Patterson June 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    I am not a huge basketball fan, but have been watching the playoffs since Miami is in them again this year. And yes, I have noticed that ‘traveling’ seems to be something that the players do in their Bentleys in order to get to the South Beach clubs after the games.

  5. Ol' Philosophizer June 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I had this exact same conversation last night, and (you can cringe now) I was you. Until another team as skilled and selfless as the Reed-Frazier-Monroe-Bradley-DeBusshere Knicks resurfaces, I doubt that I’ll have any interest in watching the pro game. I still like the college game, though, and that makes me wonder if the real problem is as simple as being a matter of proportion. Maybe the game would be better if the court was longer and wider, the basket higher, and the basketball bigger. Just think of all the asterisks they would have to add to the “All Time” record books.

  6. A Voice June 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    “whatever happened to practice and rules and gamesmanship and skill?!”

    I’d like to gesture to the question of what happened to sportsmanship, being a competitor and how it meant respecting not just the game but the players that give it their all.

    When I watch football -I can’t watch hockey any more, but, still I’m all for Marty and the Devils. Hell, I remember going to see the Stanley cup when it came through the town when the Devils one their first championship. But there was one season in the early 2000’s that changed the game for me, when scores of 6-4 become the trend and defence didn’t seem to matter much, I couldn’t watch past that.- I always smile when a jarring tackle occurs and the defender helps the ball carrier up, gives him a smack on the back of the helmet and a pat on the back before going back to the huddle. That moment is all about competition, respect for each other and for the game. And it’s something that happens less and less and less…while off-field issues and Twitter happen more and more and more.

    I see this lack of sportsmanship quite often in one of the games I play, League of Legends. It’s a competitive game played in teams of either 5 or 3 and the emphasis is clearly on team play to accomplish the objectives of the given game. Yet, despite this objective clarity, the disturbing trend to care not one whit about the game or the people playing. If you try to rally your team or explain things, talk strategy (especially before the game starts in Pre-Game chat) you are either ignored or called a ‘tryhard’ and abused in the fashion called ‘trolling’. That’s right, trying to do one’s best in a competitive environment is now looked down upon because ‘it’s just a game’ or ‘it’s not a ranked game’.

    Whether the sport is physical or digital, sportsmanship is lacking and this lack has nothing to do with the game. It all comes down to a clear lack of respect for other people, a lack of care. It’s part of the Post-Modern condition of believing there are no objective truths, no meta-narrative and everything is utterly malleable because of this, a remarkably internally and practically incoherent set of beliefs that says I can do whatever I want because nothing matters but me…unless, of course, I say otherwise.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re not sporting, those people don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re disregarding a fundamental rule of the game, remaking not because it is revealed to make the game worse but because you merely can’t be bothered with it. This Post-Modern condition is rarely pointed out or gestured to because folks are too busy with their feelings to look and think, really think, about what they are seeing and doing.

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