Volume 95, Issue 3
Thursday, June 7, 2001
Operation Nike: save the game
"Pistol" Pete Maravich would be turning over in his grave.
During the National Basketball Association playoffs, commercial time has been inundated with Nike basketball advertisements of savvy ball-wizardry at its finest.
The heroes of the 21st century hardwood such as Jason "White Chocolate" Williams and the "solo artist" (who is that guy?) dazzle the viewer with their between-the-leg dribbling, no-look passes and shake-and-bake moves.
As I sat and watched this magical display of tricks, I was captivated and proclaimed my undying love for the greatness my eyes had been blessed with observing. The problem is, I had just become a victim of that little red devil on my shoulder, for I had just committed the sin of instant gratification.
These commercials are the worst thing that could possibly happen to the state of basketball. The evidence is explicit in all facets of the game. Take a trip to the playground and you will observe children attempting to pass a ball off their elbow to their teammate.
What is this act of complete idiocy accomplishing?
The blasphemy doesn't stop there. The slam-dunk has become the only feat worth accomplishing, sending kids off to buy jumpshoes to increase their vertical leap instead of practicing endless numbers of special shots. Also, schooling an opponent has become the goal, sending the team game into oblivion.
The plight of the game is also exposed in the greatest league in the world. How many times have you watched a game where one player dribbles at the top of the key, seemingly for hours, trying to find a way to school his defender while his teammates stand around like drones?
The NBA obviously seems to appreciate this emerging trend. They blindly promote players like Jason Williams, while Williams backs-up this notoriety by endlessly turning the ball over, shooting ill-advised shots and finding himself parked on the bench in crunch time.
Now I know what you're thinking – this is just another schmuck who can't accept the game is entering a new domain and probably wishes he could perform these unbelievable feats of greatness.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I will be the first to admit I'm tired of watching 75-71 ball games where a player actually hitting a shot is an unusual occurrence, as I'm sure you are.
The NBA even had to change the rules to make the game more appealing and the league more successful. The illegal defense rule will be eliminated next year and zone defenses will be acceptable. This will not solve the ineptitude in the game, but that is another story.
When did it become passe to be capable of shooting, passing with two-hands or showing your talent with your play and not the gibberish in your mouth?
The only way the game of basketball will be saved from the hordes of
ball-hawking, trash-talking militia is by eliminating these scandalous
commercials and getting back to the fundamentals of passing, shooting and
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