Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NBA on least for a little while - Tia
(This post is for the true basketball fans. And I'm not talking about the new fans. I'm talking about the people that remember when the Lakers playing the Celtics was the business. And not because of Kobe.)

I grew up watching basketball. I come from a basketball family. My father played. Both of my brothers play. My uncle used to play for the Rockets. And I even attempted to play. (When you're tall it's either basketball or volleyball...until they figure out you have no natural ability other than height. Then they let you join the swim team.)

I spent the majority of my weekends as a child watching NBA basketball with one of my parents. I grew up on the great players of the 80-90s. Kareem, Magic, Larry, Michael. I knew the entire starting line-up of the LA Lakers in the 80s. (Kurt Rambis, anyone?)

Every Sunday had a ritual, depending on which parent I was with. If I was at my mom's it was church, Sunday lunch/dinner, basketball. If I was at my dad's it was Sunday morning pancakes, a nap and then basketball. The end was always the same.

I always knew it was game time because of that unmistakable intro. I literally would get giddy when it would start to play and I would run into the living room, hop on the couch and settle in for some basketball and the inevitable screams of protest at the referee's bad calls.

In recent years I haven't watched as much as I used to. Part of it is...well life. You get busy and things just happen. But I can honestly say, with no hesitation, that part of it is also the location. There was something about the theme song and the announcers and the just the whole NBA package when it was on NBC that made it a brand. It wasn't just basketball. It was the "NBA on NBC." When it moved to ABC/TNT/ESPN, some of the appeal was gone. It was the end of an era. I remember the last time Bob Costas announced a game on NBC, "And for one last time, you've been watching the NBA on NBC." I felt like one of my friends had moved away or something.

A few days ago I was watching the US team whoop up on China. I came in on the middle of the game because it started before I was even awake. So I was unaware of the joy that was about to wash over me at the commercial break.

It took only a split second. The unmistakable NBA on NBC theme song began to play as the Chinese called a time out. I literally started jumping up and down. Who knew that a few simple cords could bring so much joy? I was late for work but I didn't care. I sat and watched until the end of the game. Not because I was all that interested in the US beating China (we all saw that coming) but because with every commercial break I was transported back to a time in my childhood when basketball players were great, when the love of the game instead of the love of money motivated players and when Bob Costas and all of the other announcers made every little kid watching an NBA telecast want to be a basketball player when they grew up.

For those of you who know what I'm talking about:

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