So it’s come to this. L.A. Clippers rookie Blake Griffin won the NBA Slam Dunk championship by jumping over a car as teammate Baron Davis lobbed an ally oop pass to him while a gospel choir crooned R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Gimme a break.
What’s next? Jumping over a flaming pit of oil or filled with live rattlesnakes? Beyond the Cirque De Soleil meets Harlem Globetrotters shit, it’s another sign of how unwatchable the NBA has become and the depths they’ve sunk trying to get people to wake up and pay attention. The season drags on and on with bored players dragging their asses up and down the court, clanging bricks off the rim, missing layups, kicking the ball off their foot on a rare fast break while the paying customers slumber peacefully up in the nosebleed section of cavernous stadiums.
I don’t recall when I stopped watching pro basketball. Maybe it was about the time it was more fun playing NBA Live than watching a live NBA game. The slam dunk contest was a lot more enjoyable when you actually had the league’s best players like Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan participating in it. The dunk is the most overdone shot in basketball as it is. A dunk is sweetest when it happens in an actual game and when someone is getting posterized. At least when Dr. J. and his Airness dunked in the contest it was plausible to take off from the free throw line and soar in for a reverse, double-clutch, windmill dunk. When was the last time someone parked their car on the court during a game?
The problem with the NBA lies beyond the usual suspects (too many teams with too little talent spread too thinly between them, too many young players with lousy fundamentals, no sense of what the game was like before them and piss-poor attitudes currently exemplified by Sacramento Kings 1st round enfant terrible, DeMarcus Cousins, 20-year-old one-and-done wonder from Kentucky who already earns more in one year than most people will in a dozen lifetimes.
Cousins has been fined, disciplined and suspended several times by the Kings, most recently for coming to blows with a teammate who took the last shot in a game Cousins felt should have been his instead. Cousins is blessed with an all-star body and cursed by a pre-school attitude. He’s spoiled, selfish, and has a huge sense of entitlement. Justifiably so since he returned from his suspension in time to play in the NBA All-Star Rookies vs. Sophomores game where he scored 33 points primarily due to Washington Wizards point guard John Wall dishing out a record 22 assists.
Hopefully, Cousins didn’t punch out Wall’s lights for not exclusively feeding him all those dimes.
There are trouble signs in David Stern’s toyshop. There’s big-time labor unrest on the horizon with the owners expected to lock the players out next season. Stern says too many franchises are losing money and the league bought the New Orléans Hornets when no rich sap stepped forward. The Kings are supposedly contemplating relocating to Anaheim. Since the Kings have before resided in Kansas City and Cincinnati before cutting and running from those burgs the residents of Anaheim probably shouldn’t invest too much in DeMarcus Cousins approved gear.
Even more troubling for Stern, the longest-tenured commissioner in pro sports is a dire warning from Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights that the NBA’s core demographic, White men, may not be loving this game as much as before. Writing in The Daily Beast Bissinger says, “Based on various statistics, the percentage of African-American players in the NBA has remained relatively constant over the past decade, fluctuating between 72 and 75 percent. The number of foreign-born players has increased exponentially to about 18 percent. The number of white American players, meanwhile, has decreased from 24.3 percent in the 1980-81 season to roughly 10 percent now.”
How long will White guys rock LeBron and Kobe jerseys before they look around and notice the NBA has become a game dominated by players that don’t look like them? The days when great White ballers such as Larry Bird, Chris Mullin and John Stockton dominated has been superseded by far lesser lights such as J.J. Reddick, Kirk Hinrich and Josh McRoberts. You know something is wrong when the Boston Celtics don’t have a single White player. Take out the NBA foreign-born players and the best American born White player is Kevin Love who toils in obscurity because he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Love played in his first All-Star game as a replacement for the injured Yao Ming. He could have just as well stayed home with his two points and four rebounds in 11 meaningless minutes. Hey Kevin, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash think you suck.
If there’s no lockout and abbreviated season, I expect someone knucklehead to try to top Griffin by slam dunking over an Escalade instead of a wimpy little Kia. Maybe next time pop the hood just before the contestants wearing jerseys covered in raw pork chops with a pack of starving pit bulls chasing them for an extra degree of difficulty.
The fans will eat it up. If not them at least the dogs will.