Cry me a river. At least until my cable bill jacks up because major networks need that Christmas hoops game.


Seriously, if I ever needed to be reminded just how poor I am, I can do it by watching millionaires half-hearting it up and down the basketball floor for billionaires who sit in glass booths; and in between the two are rabid fans willing to drop half their monthly salaries on a game ticket.

So there is no National Basketball Association season. Waah…

Wait; there is a half season. No wait, the final offer to the counter offer of the official last offer to the owner’s and player’s demands for offerings was taken off the table and laid upon the legal system of this great land to be determined.

That is what we do. We sue.

Coffee too hot… sue! Lassie fell down a mineshaft… sue! Take away my Heisman because I acted illegally… sue! We are playing hardball about playing ball and called each other’s bluffs… sue, sue, sue!

And once again, in between, are the fans and the vendors and the restaurant workers and the couch potatoes.

I do feel bad about lost wages. Not lost player or owner wages, as I am sure there are lawyers right now figuring out just how much clients make on write-offs caused by lost games… but the wages of the common Joe and Jill who depended on an extra tip or sale during the season.

NBA basketball was only good when the playoffs approached or when Latrell Sprewell was choking coach P.J. Carlesimo or Ron Artest was going into the stands after some stupid punk that threw his beer because he was drunk and mad about paying so much to watch players loaf and choke each other.

Sprewell, incidentally, refused a $21-million, three-year contract offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005 because (paraphrasing here) “it is not enough to feed my children, you will wind up seeing them in a Sally Struthers commercial soon.”

The NBA stopped being an exciting sport when the black-and-white television images of Walt Frazier helping Willis Reed limp to the sidelines and Reed gimping out for the next game gave way to the colorful screens and more colorful (stick finger down throat here) enthusiasms of various color commentators.

The great matchups and competitions today; the LeBron vs. Pierce, the Celtics vs. the Heat, Kobe vs. the hotel maid, Los Angeles vs. the world… are these truly as good as Jordan vs. Bird or Dr. J vs. Dan Issel? Or Pete Maravich putting a pass off a teammates face, on purpose, because he thought he was loafing?

My take is no. Simply because if you watched Bill Russell, or Jerry West, and even “Air” Jordan celebrate a point or pass or championship, their celebration was not singular.

There was no arms folded pose, no wiggly giggly gyrating walk, no jersey popping, no moon walking, no “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, my milk shake is better than yours” mentality.

Old school players actually hugged each other! I know, amazing! They even wrapped their arms around their coaches, not their coaches’ necks.

I know there are players that still play hard day in and day out. The Steve Nash’s, Dirk Nowitzki’s, Kevin Durant’s, Manu Ginobili’s, Tony Allen’s, Chris Paul’s… but a whole team of them? That has proven to be hard even on the Olympic level. We may win, but with class and dignity?

Watch the Women’s National Basketball Association. No, really.

They play hard all game. They play like they may not have another game. I will admit this: I took the most wicked shot of my playing days at a California university from a teammate; not from my men’s team, but from the women’s side. And why? “Because,” she said “This is a basketball game, you play hard, where are you from? Does your momma know you are out?”

And watch professional goon skating, err, ice hockey. You try to over celebrate and show someone up on the ice and there will be blows.

In hockey, the guy that passes the puck to the guy who passes the puck to the guy who scores gets just as much love as the scorer.

And in college, say hoops for instance, there is some serious sweating going on. I am not just talking about overweight, high-budgeted coaches either. Players know that if they don’t perform they sit down. If they sit down they don’t get television time. If they don’t get television time they can’t gyrate their hips when they perform. Wicked cycle, but at least they play hard. With red-faced coaches busting out of silk ties that pinch designer shirts they had better; watching a coaches head explode on national TV is not pretty. Can you say awkward?

So I watch WNBA… and I watch college sports… and pro hockey… because they play hard all the time.

And this holiday I will got to Treadwell Arena and watch JAHA, and to Thunder Mountain for the Black Friday basketball tournament, and to Eaglecrest Ski Area, and to the final Dzantik’i Heeni vs. Floyd Dryden hoops games.

Seriously. As employees we are paid to do our jobs. As employers we are expected to watch over those we pay. As players we are expected to play.

Mr. Pro, don’t thump your chest because you caught a pass for 10 yards, or made one of two free throws, or actually got that caviar fed rear end high enough to get a rebound. You are paid to do that little trifle from your sport! With the money from my kid’s lunch program!

Does the 5:30 a.m. trash collector spin three times and do the electric boogaloo after a nicely executed pick and dump? No. And I have gotten up to watch… I mean, isn’t that what we pay for? A good show?


Would you just shut up and play… and would you just shut up and pay them to play… so I can just shut up and write, about the WNBA and pro hockey and college sports, where players and owners give a good golly. Or Eaglecrest, DZ and FD, where smiles are as fresh as the morning air.

Oops, excuse me… my driveway snow plow operator just removed two great scoopfuls’ of storm warning and is doing his celebration dance. Since he has asked for a 20-percent increase for services this season I am going to enjoy every penny’s worth.

Know anyone who wants to buy “Alaskan men plow all night” T-shirts?


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