Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs There has been a resounding question I’ve had to ask myself in recent years.
As much as I’ve tried, I simply can’t watch the NBA.
My reasons, I thought, were simple. I had no real team to root for growing up. The game was much more about individual talent with a lot of isolation and one-on-one play. Traveling was a foreign term, and the complaining to refs by players was too much to watch.
I much preferred the college game to the pros. When it came to the playoffs, I’d usually watch a few games of the NBA finals, and that would be about it.
But something interesting has happened with the NBA and me this year.
We’ve started to fall for each other again. Back in college, I had a roommate who was an intern with the Denver Nuggets. He would call before games and tell us he’d have tickets at will call if we could make it. One year, I went to 25 games. But then that dried up, and the NBA became unwatchable for me. Nothing was more frustrating than watching a star player dribble for 15 seconds and fire up a 20 footer. Yuck.
I’ve probably watched more games this year than in the past four years combined. I noticed this when I was actually excited to watch a Nuggets game the other day.
Thinking about it, it’s become pretty apparent why.
With the threat of an NBA lockout prior to the season, the season was shortened to 66 games.
This cut two early months off and made teams play games in a shorter period of time. With the shortened season, teams play a game every other night on average. A lot of times, teams will play back-to-back games and sometimes even three games in a row.
I’m a big fan of this. It is one of the main reasons why I’ve enjoyed watching the NBA this season.
People can get into a rhythm of watching games. It reminds me a little of a baseball schedule.
Previously, people would be lucky to get two or three games per week. Now, with the shortened schedule, it’s not unlikely to see four games in a week.
The other big reason is the shortened season has helped is that the type of play has changed. It’s not about the team with the best player going one on one anymore.
That’s still a big factor, but watching the Nuggets and other top teams, the teams that are the deepest are doing well.
It’s tough for teams with a limited bench to be successful when playing so many games in a week.
This means teams that are deep, like Denver or Oklahoma City, are having success.
Plus, when a team is deep, the brand of basketball is better.
There is more flow, less one on one and definitely less dribbling for 20 seconds and rocketing a 20 footer.
It’ll be interesting to see how this carries over and whether the game will remain intriguing.
But for now, I’m just glad to remember why I used to love the NBA.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com