Take a look at the NBA, you might like what you see
Posted: Wednesday May 24, 2006 2:58PM; Updated: Wednesday May 24, 2006 5:46PM
Anyone looking for a reason to watch the NBA again need look no further than the just concluded Mavericks-Spurs series.
Bring up the subject of the NBA to a group of sports fans and invariably someone will say that he doesn't watch pro basketball anymore. The reasons vary -- nobody plays hard on defense, or they play too hard on defense (too much grabbing and holding, too many low-scoring games). Or there's too much one-on-one offense, or the players get away with traveling and palming. You've heard all the complaints. Maybe you've even made some of them.
If so, consider this an invitation to take another look at the NBA. You may not have noticed, but the league is exciting and, yes, even fun again. For proof, you need look no further than this year's playoffs, which have produced some thoroughly entertaining basketball, with the promise of more to come. The four remaining teams -- the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals, and the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals -- are all well worth watching.
Anyone who says that the league produces nothing but boring, slog-it-out basketball simply hasn't been paying attention. Teams routinely break 100 points these days, even in the playoffs, where slow-down, defensive-oriented play is supposed to be the rule. The Mavericks and Spurs finished off a classic seven-game series on Monday, with Dallas taking a 119-111 overtime victory that was, like nearly every other game of the series, a tense, thrilling affair in which both teams played a fast-paced style and hit more than a few jump shots, two aspects of the game many NBA critics mistakenly believe are missing from the league.
The NBA has been condemned in the past -- including in this space -- for all the obvious reasons. The game had become too physical, with players unable to move and cut freely. There was a numbing sameness to the style of play, with nearly every offense dumping the ball inside to a post player, or perhaps running a pick-and-roll with two players, while the rest of the team stood around and watched.