[NB: For some reason, tumblr cannot accept apostrophes in post titles.]
I was an avid basketball fan in my youth but, like so many who came of age watching Patrick Ewing almost win an NBA title, I lost interest in the NBA around the time I got my drivers license. When Linsanity hit, I jumped on the bandwagon and have stayed on despite the fact that a knee injury means that the Knicks are now just a team that plays at the world’s most famous arena.
And I’ll tell you: I’ve really enjoyed being a fan again. Beyond the fact that the Knicks are decent and often fun to watch, the compressed season means that they’re playing all the time and there’s no chance to lose interest. My understanding is that the schedule has been brutal on the players but it’s been great for the narrative arc of the season — it’s kind of the same same as watching “In Treatment”. I feel like I really know these guys.
Knowing the Knicks means knowing their defects, including that they complain after almost every single call against them. The worst offenders are, for sure, Baron Davis, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. These guys complain when the whistle blows as a general rule; sometimes it’s a glaring at the ref and jawing to their teammate sort of complaint and sometimes it’s a mouth open, eyebrows raised, hands up, “how can this be?!” sort of complaint. In any event, it never seems to have much to do with whatever actually happened on the court.
Was it always this way? Am I noticing it now because I’m older or because HD makes it easier to read body language and lips or because I was so partisan at the age of 13 that I, too, was appalled by every call and was glad to have my argument voiced? Or, did something change?
I’ve been enjoying basketball more than I ever have but this one aspect really gets me down. It’s a mild irritant in the same way that flopping in soccer is an irritant: it’s bad sportsmanship and a bad habit and though not quite enough to make me turn off the TV, if I’m ever wavering in my interest/support/fandom it could tip me against.
(Notable exception to all of the above: Tyson Chandler. If he’s complaining, the refs got it wrong.)
Harper, an old friend and, for all I know, a huge Dominique Wilkins fan, pointed me to this clip of Jeff Van Gundy making absolutely fair and reasonable observations regarding the phenomenon of flopping in the NBA. Can two separate annoying NBA things be analogous to soccer flopping?