By Mark Coogan
When there was ﬁrst talk of a looming NBA lockout last spring, I remember thinking to myself, “No big deal. I’ll just pay a lot more attention to hockey and football. I won’t even miss the NBA.” The months have made me wiser, however, and I now see how naive I was. I miss NBA basketball. I miss it so much it hurts.
Part of the problem is that we were spoiled by an incredible season last year. The entire season was packed with unbelievable highlights and controversial storylines. Seemingly every night there was another jaw-dropping dunk by Blake Griﬃn or a newly released story about why fans should hate the Miami Heat. From start to ﬁnish, it was the most entertaining season I’ve seen.
And I wasn’t the only one to think this. Throughout the season, TV ratings were higher than they’ve ever been for the NBA. Casual fans were sucked in by drama that LeBron James sparked with “The Decision” last July. They latched on to emerging stars like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They clung to the familiar faces, guys like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, who may now be on their last legs. These amazing storylines would have all been prominent again this season, and many of them would have been even more ampliﬁed. But instead of seeing them develop, we have been left wondering what could have been.
There were thirteen NBA games scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9. They were obviously all cancelled and so we didn’t get to see Chris Paul go head-to-head with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. We didn’t see Tim Duncan and the aging Spurs take on Kobe Bryant and the aging Lakers in a battle to see who has more left at the end of their career. Instead of seeing these great matchups, anyone who turned on ESPN on Wednesday night saw non-stop coverage of the end of Joe Paterno’s career as Penn State’s football coach. (An important side note: The Penn State Board of Trustees absolutely made the right decision in ﬁring Joe Paterno. His nearly ten years of inaction while someone he knew to be a child rapist worked closely with his football program is simply inexcusable.)
If there was ever a night we needed basketball, it was Wednesday night. Sports are meant to be a diversion from our real lives; a chance to get away from the struggles we deal with everyday. NBA basketball coverage would not have taken precedence over the Penn State football story, but it would have given sports fans an opportunity to think about something else for a little while.