Welcome Back Courters.
If you’re like me, you are enjoying the free first two weeks of NBA League Pass on whichever cable or satellite provider you own.
While I’ve been a die-hard Yankee and Raider fan since I was a kid (though there have been two different brief flirtations where the Raiders were so unwatchable that I followed the NY Giants in their stead), when it comes to basketball I’ve kind of bounced (pun intended) around among the teams I support. As a child, we tended to root for national teams like the Cowboys or Steelers, or Celtics and Lakers in basketball, because they seemed to be on TV every week and they were the best in their leagues. They transcended locality. Though the Yankees and Raiders, for me, were both local teams from times I lived in Northern New Jersey and then in Sacramento. They literally were the closest teams to where I lived.
As an adult, I believe there must be some local connection to the team you follow. Thus, I’ve bounced around among the Sixers (lived in Jersey but often drove down to the Spectrum to see games), Nets (Jersey connection), and more recently, the Phoenix Suns (have a house there). And there’s my true local team, the Sacramento Kings. But I find that you don’t appreciate something until you’ve left it. Thus, during my years in New Jersey in which I lived about a stone’s throw from the Meadowlands, I went to dozens of Nets games but didn’t really consider myself a Nets fan. Then I admired them more after I moved to California. In a sense I became nostalgic for something I didn’t even appreciate in the first place. Odd I admit.
Anyway, long story short. I’m using the two free weeks of League Pass to catch the two “local” yet out-of-market teams for me: the Nets and the Suns, before I will settle on watching Kings games the rest of the year – though I have marked my calendar for every time the Suns play on national TV, and my smartphone is set to receive text updates on the Nets (in case they are able to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando – good luck with that).
All of that noted, it appears that it will be a rather depressing season for the three “local teams” I follow – as, based on their starts to the season, it doesn’t seem that any of the three will make the playoffs. But good news: My dad lives in Oregon and I used to spend summers and a few winters there. So that means I can also root for the Blazers, who look outstanding so far – even without Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. Very well-coached team. They could take the West this year.
None of my teams played on Christmas Day, so me, opening night was Monday the 26th. The one thing I noticed was that in the Nets-Wizards opener, there were a lot of the usual offensive fouls called. Later I tuned in the Suns hosting the Hornets, and they did not call a flop by a defender an offensive foul. At that moment, Suns commentator Eddie Johnson noted that the league was cracking down on the flops and would call fewer offensive fouls this season. But that was the only time I noticed it. Otherwise, they’re calling them like they always have.
Incidentally, Monday night was also interesting for me because all three “local” teams I follow were playing, and in slightly different time zones. The Suns, during standard time, are in the Mountain time zone. So I had the Nets starting at 4 PM West Coast time, then the Suns at 6 PM, then the Kings hosting the Lakers at 7. Here is where trying to follow three teams was difficult. The Nets were being blown out by Washington, so I flipped over to the start of the Suns game. Meanwhile, I missed the Nets comeback victory. Then, the Suns game was close, so I stuck with it to the end, only to be disappointed when they lost by 1.
So, by the time I flipped over to the Kings game, there were 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and the Kings had a nice lead. I was happy they were winning but sad that I’d missed the first 3 quarters of it. Oh well. Since then, all three teams haven’t played on the same night, so I’ve been able to see each of their games. On January 9 when the League Pass free sample expires, watching NBA basketball will be much simpler.
Final note: speaking of nostalgia, I do find myself keeping an eye on the Nets, because this is definitively their last year in New Jersey, and the Kings, because this might be their last year in Sacramento (I won’t appreciate them until their gone). Ultimately, as I plan to retire in the Phoenix area, I will most likely settle on the Suns as my team. For now, I am also trying to savor what could be their last season with Steve Nash.
Was that TMI about the NBA? If so, I apologize. But I repeat: watch out for the Blazers this year.