"Write something about the 100th anniversary of the league," someone suggests. "What will the NBA look like 50 years from now?"
I am supposed to be funny.
"Players will be dipped in body paint before each game," I write. "Vibrant colors. Warmup jackets will be feather boas. Each player will be carried onto the floor by Nubian slaves. No, each player will be driven onto the floor in some chrome, growling vehicle that has not been invented yet...."
This is not funny. This is what I think will happen.
The future of the NBA is Dennis Rodman. I cannot get this thought out of my head. The aberration will become the norm.
With each passing season the actual basketball game means less and less. The balance already has been tipped in a way no one ever could have expected a dozen years ago, much less 50 years ago when the league was started. The package already is far more important than the game itself.
I mean...the Laker girls!
I mean...Inside Stuff'. Ahmad Rashad, confidant to the rich and famous, is telling us what the people on the floor really think! Telling Willow Bey! Willow smiling that prom-queen smile! Back to you at NBA Central!
I mean...computer games, chat rooms, dribbling across the Web.
I mean...merchandising. Buy the burgers, buy the shoes, buy the cologne, buy the underwear, buy the book, buy the records. The games are commercials for the commercials, which are commercials for the games. There is a grand, circular synergy. The games sell the shoes that sell the game that sells the shoes that sell the game.