Thursday, May 8, 2014

NBA Basketball of Punks and Dunks

Soccer or Football is the world's most popular sport but surely American Basketball is equally popular with its towering men and their knee length shorts, certainly not designed for men under 6 feet; anything under this number easily qualifies for a dwarf on the field.  Regular people sometimes feel a sense of relief when they see some players hovering around their normal height but that is very rare and soon people feel sorry to see such 'tiny' players having to make do in a court of giants. Then too, the 'tiny' ones seem to be specially adept at moving the ball swiftly, especially through the legs of the bigger players. Big players like Shaquille O'Neal made it an art form to fall and remain fallen till most of both teams regardless of rivalry, helped him stand up again. 

It's the sheer beauty of flight and an equal ferocity of beastly play that sets American basketball apart from any other in the world. Two to three feet off the ground is the least a fan can get to see, which in itself is a fanciful flight perfected by none other than the world's most famous athlete, the great Michael Jordan. Hang time came to be affiliated with Jordan because he seemed to stay in the air for an unholy and unbelievably long time. Nonetheless the Jordan era was also one of full time punks like Dennis Rodman and those pesky Detroit Pistons who played basketball like a series of wrestling matches. For lack of anything else to do, Rodman now keeps company with ruthless dictators and killers like Kim Jong-Un and then wonders in his pretty pink scarf why the world is so upset and subsequently has on-air meltdowns as well!

Unfortunately, like other things in America, NBA too has come under the knife of political correctness where a good old hard foul has been elevated to choices of flagrant 1 and 2 and of course off court theatrics! It's a wonder PC thought police hasn't yet objected to all the garbage talk and thoughts by players especially with the heavy handed dealing of Donald Sterling, owner of NBA Team LA Clippers! Somehow Clippers thought of protesting by throwing their jerseys down but still continuing to be on Sterling's pay roll of millions of dollars; taking Sterling's tainted money was ok!  Head butting, poke in the eye, goring another player are no longer tolerated. Subsequently, fans can no longer see a basketball brawl, so to speak. Half of the pleasure in watching international soccer games lay in watching droves of traveling half-crazed fans across borders who insist on having their own matches of fists, slurs and horns in the stands. 
Michael Jordan's Hang Time

Still, NBA attracts new blood each year hungry for the ring and title but of course the average age of an NBA champion is 27 years! There is Russell Westbrook with his blazing guns and of course the freight train Lebron James but none come close to being punks.  To stop Lebron James is to do it at the peril of your life and so when he comes down thundering towards the basket, it's best to move out of the way and pretend to tie your shoe laces. Everybody would understand those shoe laces were never undone! When Tiago tried to dunk on Lebron, well the sheer audacity of it went viral because the Spaniard never went anywhere. It's one thing to move out of the way but it's another to dare do it on Lebron!

NBA still has some passion, bits of controlled anger, some frustration, but plenty of beauty in the beasts of play. It's fascinating to see the ball sail down the net with a sweet swish, one smooth action, no crutch of the board is seen as in European basketball and so when it happens to be a rare air ball, one collective gasp from the crowd becomes a unique sound. But nothing to beat the absolute awesomeness of NBA basketball when players go for their dunks. Which brings me to the quintessential nature of American NBA dunks.  This beauty is truly a beast. The ball gets slammed down with such savagery that it is a miracle the ball survives as well as the net and of course the board as well. This art of slamming the ball through the net has yet to be mastered by other nations.

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