Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Goodbye to All That

JamesI have nothing against the very attractive young man at left, LeBron James. From all I have observed, he is a highly talented, personable young brotha who plays his heart out for his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. With James, who was the Rookie of the Year several years ago, as their leader and star, they very well may someday go on to win the league championship. Or if he leaves Cleveland and finds an even stronger supporting cast, he may lead that team to an NBA championship.

But to tell the truth, I don't care. In fact, I couldn't care if Cleveland or any other NBA team, led by LeBron James or anyone else, won the NBA championship, or if the NBA ever had a championship again, or if there even was an NBA any longer. There's been quite a lot of hooplah about the new, ridiculously antiquated dress code the NBA czar David Stern has imposed, which offends the sartorial and cultural sensibilities of many of the younger Black, hiphop oriented players. But these same players realize they're participating in a private cartel and money-obsessed business, and they usually do whatever else they're told, like keeping their mouths shut about anything that might offend their owners or endorsers, so I really don't care if Bettman and company impose their ridiculous, antiquated dress code on their players, who in my opinion, look perfectly fine either bland suits or in their hiphop garb or, like young James at left, best with their clothes coming off.

In fact, I have ceased following the NBA since their lockout-strike shenanigans of a few years, and seriously doubt I'll ever follow any of its teams or players regularly again. A league of whiny multimillionaire players and billionaire owners, they lost me when they couldn't figure out a way to get their acts together and make their business work. I can't shed any tears, crocodile or otherwise, over very rich people who pout and stamp their feet and whine because they can't get even richer faster and make payments on their Hummers and pay upkeep on multiple houses! Hey, it's a hard life, you know? (Yes, some of the NBA players do a great deal for the communities they're from, while others like Etan Thomas are outspoken activists, but in general, their focus is on themselves and their wealth and celebrity, and really, I just don't have time for it.)

MayersWhen airline pilots or steelworkers or nurses or high school teachers other people who don't get paid 10x-100x+ the average salary of most Americans go on strike for better wages or continued health care coverage or pension protection, I'm with them. But these overgrown whiners get none of my sympathy, nor do their bosses, very rich men all of them, who've helped to drive away fans by their pettiness, greed and self-absorption, while also encouraging bad, violent play and endlessly peddling their crapola branded merchandise, which is probably produced at slave wages, to children and adults who can least afford it every day, dumping most of the money back into their own pockets. So I say impose your new dress code, or don't. I don't care. Fill the league with nothing but European and Latin American and Chinese players, I don't care. Line the floor with giant troughs that deranged fans can slurp beer out of before they insult the players like the overpaid, overhyped entertainers they are, and then have the players turn around and whale the living daylights out of them in fights that would make the stars of Ultimate Fighters jealous, I don't care. Never again, nunca, jamais, niemals, thank you very much!

As for LeBron, man, I'm sorry, but it's just too bad you didn't come along 10 years ago, when I could still put up with the organization you're part of.

Which brings me to the gentleman at right, Jamal Mayers, of the St. Louis Blues. I have seen told that his team has lost six straight games, or something like that. Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other, I guess. Because you know what? I don't care! Once upon a time, I followed this team avidly. I knew the names of all its players, its stars, how many points it was ahead of or behind its rivals, whether it was going to playoffs, which I did year after year, though it could never defeat Detroit/Colorado/Dallas/whomever to get to the Stanley Cup. I even figured out that bizarre +/- statistic that the National Hockey League employs. In fact, I cared so much about this stupid team that when it almost moved to Saskatoon, Sasketchewan, one of those supposedly vast and beautiful Canadian provinces I would bet most Americans could neither identify nor spell, I was wrecked! How dare someone try to sell the Blues (who according to lore had drawn away all the White fans from the St. Louis Hawks basketball team, which ended up flying off to Atlanta) away? How dare they!

But then, the greedy owners in this league, and the greedy players (who do, admittedly, earn far less money than the NBA players, but considerably more than everyone else), decided a few years that they would refuse to agree on a salary plan. Or rather they were too trifling to agree on a salary plan that worked for both of them, and they met and conducted a long charade whose outcome was that they ended up shutting down the NHL for an entire season. An entire season! They were so fixated on trying to outdo each other that they were willing to work against their best interests and basically kill off the very thing that was putting money in their pockets, so they shut down the season. Shut it down. Completely asinine, but they did it. Suicide. And that was the moment when I said, NHL, sayonara. If you play tomorrow or never, sayonara. If you come up with some fascinating new playoff scheme or keep the same absurd one in which basically every team competes, negating the purpose of the regular season, sayonara. Dayglo pucks, free smoothies, bobblehead dolls with a gold ingot inside, sayonara. If you have players competing in bells and whistles, lamé, leather, chain mail, even the nude (well...), sayonara. Because if you're willing to backslap your fans as you did, some of us won't ever take it again.

So now they're back in business, and I haven't paid any attention to how many fans they're drawing, if any. If a few teams fail, I wouldn't be surprised. Commissioner Gary Bettman presided over all of this, and he still has his job. Too many NHL owners were always crying poor before their stupid suicide pact, yet they kept expanding or selling teams off to cities and owners where there was hardly any fanbase or hockey tradition to begin with, and then they still went ahead and committed suicided and tried to take everyone with them. But not me. Jamal, I hope you can win a few games down the road. There must be worst teams than the Blues, I imagine.

But then again, if the team gets shipped off to Saskatoon this time, I doubt you'll experience much shock. You're from Canada anyways, andI'm told the landscape is sort of like the Dakotas. It sounds pretty. Good luck, cheers, thanks a lot. Oh, and sayonara.


  1. Freudian slip, John or was it intentional to write "David Bettman"? The NBA commissioner is David Stern. NHL is run by Gary Bettman.

    I usually watch one NBA game a year, the final game of the final championship series. All others are pointless.

    I've watched an NHL game this year (my Rangers are in first place) and the new rules have opened up the offense and made it a more fluid game.

  2. Bernie, it was a slip, though that's actually pretty funny, isn't it, blurring Stern and Bettman? I'll change it, though. I'm glad to hear about the Rangers, though really, were the league to disappear completely, I wouldn't bat an eye.