Luke Graham

Luke Graham

Luke Graham: NBA and scheduling dilemma


Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or

Find more columns by Luke here.

— I watched my first full NBA game of the year a couple weeks ago.

It was Game 1 of the New York-Boston series. I was surprised what I saw. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The two teams played hard, went back and forth and the game went down to the final shot — a 3-pointer by Jesus Shuttlesworth/Ray Allen.

I enjoyed it so much that I watched the ensuing Denver-Oklahoma City game. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed that, as well.

I have never been a huge NBA guy. I never really had a team to root for growing up, probably one of the biggest reasons I can’t get into it. The Nuggets were horrible, my second grade nemesis wore a LaPhonso Ellis jersey, and I couldn’t like the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls because everyone else did.

Certainly, I followed the game. But I just never could get into it.

I thought that changed a couple weeks ago. Sure it’s the playoffs and the games are better, but I found myself actually thinking I could get into the NBA.

But then that darn schedule happened, and I was left loathing the NBA — and to a much greater extent, the playoff schedule — so much.

The playoffs aren’t a viewer’s delight. You have to have a marathoner’s interest to keep up with the games. There are too many days between games.

The Nuggets and Thunder played Game 1 on a Sunday night. They didn’t tangle again until a Wednesday. Why? What did the Nuggets do for two-plus days in Oklahoma City? Is there anything to do in Oklahoma City?

Obviously, TV has a lot to do with it. But my interest — thanks sports ADD — in the series immediately waned.

I didn’t watch another game.

Same with the Boston-New York series.

I have had my issues with the NBA: Too much 1-on-1, not enough defense, a slow pace and whining to the officials makes it hard for me to watch. But I figured this season was different.

But the days off between the series — and days off in sports in general — kill me. Why don’t teams play a game, take a day off and then resume.

At least in the NFL, you can clear out Saturdays and Sundays during the playoffs. In the NHL — where the playoffs have simply been outstanding — they play a game, take a day off and play again. I like that. It gives a man time to regroup and then get right back into it.

The NBA playoffs, though, started in early April and will end in the middle of June. That’s ridiculous.

That’s almost three full months of something that could be done in half the time. Undoubtedly, I will watch the NBA Finals. It will be the best basketball on the planet, between some of the best athletes in the world who will actually play hard.

Of course, I’ll have to be able to pay attention for a full 2 1/2 weeks.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email


rhys jones 5 years, 11 months ago

Welcome aboard, Luke!! Basketball is a FANTASTIC game, under-appreciated in this part of the country.

I would assert that basketball players are the most highly conditioned athletes of a team sport in the world. I can hear many soccer fans touting their sport, an argument I will dodge, not being a great fan of that Chinese fire drill. Lots of running for not much scoring. Basketball players are running up and down the court the entire time they're in, and the better ones may get 40 minutes a game or more. There's no break between plays; the action keeps right on going. Except for an in-bounds play, nothing is scripted, it's all impromptu, The positioning is ever-changing, ball movement dictated by current conditions, and this is where the great players shine, with their passing and shooting. Even more impressive than a slam dunk or long 3, to me, is some creative passing -- bounce passes, behind-the-back passes and dribbles, all determined by the instant positioning of the players and only limited by the imagination of the ball handler. What those guys can create on the spur of the moment, not to mention the AMAZING acrobatics, dodging defenders or blocking shots, just leaves me in awe, not only in their ability to conjure it up, but then to execute it to perfection.

True, the timeouts can get tiresome, especially toward the ends of the halves, and I have a nagging suspicion these are done for the sponsors as well as the players, cramming in a few more commercials. Ever the conspiracy theorist, I also dislike the occasionally inconsistent refereeing, where the superstar get more leeway with an extra step or two (travelling) than a rookie; many fouls aren't called, and palming the ball is double-dribbling, but if the whistle blew as often as I would blow it, the game would slow to a crawl -- or they'd relearn how to play a clean game, like college. The Nuggets get more than their share of bad calls, so the refs are the wild-card -- it's hard to beat the opponents and officials both. But some guys get by with murder more than others, because it packs the arenas. Kobe gets an extra step any time he wants.

Basketball is my favorite spectator sport as well, far more exciting than football. Comparing basketball to football is like comparing football to baseball, although they ALL have their nuances and fine points.

This time of year, there's at least one playoff game almost every day, before the ranks thin out. There are 5 rounds of potential 7-game series', between the East and the West on the road to the finals champ. This is basketball's Second Season, when the level of play rises markedly. ANY NBA game is better than NO NBA game.

It's a FASCINATING game, and welcome to the club, Luke!!


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