We are one day away from the end of the worst sporting month of the year, bar none! October brings us ‘anticipation’ about (a) little men who race horses, the trainers who prepare them or the actual freaking horses, (b) how much money you’re going to lose while punting – sidenote; we’re Aussies, it’ll be a lot! – or (c) how drunk you’re going to get at The Cup.
For others though, October is the countdown for the NBA basketball season. You know, those immensely tall, mostly black athletic freakazoids who amaze with their skills and finesse?!
Longest sidenote ever
Another sidenote that’s not really a sidenote – I feel for those who are passionate about only one team or sport. For a lot of Aussies, this is the AFL. And look, I love footy as much as anyone, well, really, more than most. And when it’s all said and done, give me a Bombers premiership over a Lakers or a Man U title.
But what the hell do you do between October and April?! What, engage in the overhyped free agency period, in which only one A-Grade player switched teams, with maybe two other impact players on the move as well, with a third in limbo in the biggest trade farce we’ve ever seen??
There’s always the option to await the highly-anticipated cricket Test Series with South Africa. That’s not sarcasm; we are in deep strife against the best test nation in the world – yes, they beat England over there, didn’t their tabloids tell you?! – but we’re not without a chance at home, with the opening test at the Gabba, a venue we haven’t lost at since 1764.
It will be a great match-up … for all of three tests. Thank you, planners of Australian cricket for sending the most potent cricket team in the world home after 15 days or less of action, replacing them with Sri Lanka. Seriously, what prestige for that test minnow to take centre stage on Boxing Day.
And while you’re at it, how about a couple more 20/20 games?? I know you want to keep the 50 over version ‘in our hearts’ as we’re hosting the World Cup pretty soon, but believe me, that won’t make us turn up. The world wants a contest that’s over in the space of an animated kid’s film, not the entire and extended Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But I digress.
A whole new ball game
The pending NBA season brings a new and unique challenge to the journey that has been the year without sport. Last year, my Lakers were knocked out of the playoffs a mere two days before my comeback to sport. This wasn’t as bad it sounds – we were never going to take the title and were beaten by a better team in the young, unbelievably talented Oklahoma City Thunder, who went on to make the NBA Finals. Yes … Oklahoma!
Three major things have happened since then, one of them in the last couple of days. One, we traded for Steve Nash, the uber-likeable Canadian point guard and two, we also traded for the best big man in the game, one of the top 5 players in the league.
Too much basketball speak? I’ll dumb it down – we got good! Like, really, really good.
Oh, and number 3 was that Oklahoma traded away their third best player. This normally wouldn’t register too much of an interest, but two things make this different – one, he’s a bona fide star and they can’t win a title without him, and two, he has the number one beard in the league. Bar. None!
State of play in the viewing world
Have you noticed that One HD has gone to pot? No?! Well then, you’re just like everyone else who hasn’t bothered to switch the channel there in eons. Even James Packer wanted to toss it aside, but amazingly, too many sponsors haven’t noticed that their programming is absolute rubbish. So while it keeps generating $, you’ll continue to have Ice Road Truckers plus Cops reruns from 1995 to entertain you…
Oh, and they dropped the NBA a little while ago too.
So with no free to air NBA viewing available and the cost of Foxtel far outweighing the benefit for Team Evans, enter NBA League Pass. In short, every game, when you want it, on your computer.
Ten years ago, this would have been heaven. I’m not kidding. I could have devoured up to ten full games a week. Again, I’m not kidding. Here are my Lakers, ready to seriously contend in the last couple of years of Kobe Bryant’s career, and we’ve just upgraded with two of the most likeable superstars in the game, and I can see everything?!
But now, it rings alarm bells. You see, it’s too good a scenario not to opt in.
However, rising to prominence is the unmistakeable risk that sport will again take up too great a place in my mental landscape.
I have a son, a wife who needs me present, a job that is more demanding than ever and a deep desire to devote time and energy to my faith, my fitness, my church community, friends, family and neighbours.
And this provides an awesome challenge! You see, we have to move away from immersing ourselves completely in activities and desires that distract us from what’s important, ie all the factors listed in the previous paragraph…
Yet we need, and I certainly need, to equip myself with strategies beyond ‘going cold turkey’. I guess part of the mindset behind going all out and taking a year away from the games that I so love is that is so easy to justify our obsessive behaviour by claiming it to be in moderation.
In going cold turkey, I knew I had it under control. If not, I’m not so sure. We all know people who are obsessed with various things in their lives yet they claim that it’s in moderation; ironic to those who know them well.
The year without sport was my safety net. Now, I have to rely on limitations and accountability. Maybe a game, or two, a week, tops?? I don’t know. I’ll have to flush this out with my village. Moderation moderation moderation.
This will be extremely tough in a league that is more exciting than ever, with more marketable stars than in any era bar the late 80s / early 90s.
Even if you don’t know who on earth these people are in this next batch of names, it’s hard to watch their talents and not be amazed. Holding Kobe, Lebron, D-Wade, Dirk, LA, Brooklyn, Durant and Westbrook, Howard, Nash, Blake, OKC, NYK and rookie Davis at arm’s length will be a major litmus test.
And it’s one I’m not fully confident I can navigate.