Monday, May 14, 2012

Clutch Time

Another week of "who could have predicted THAT?" political machinations. Obama makes public his change on gay marriage, which may or may not help the campaign, Mitt ends the week speaking to a crowd at Liberty University, a group who normally wouldn't have given him anything more than the backs of their hands and, in the strangest if not most memorable line of the week, Mitt tries to take credit for the GM/Chrysler comeback. I'm taking this last one and putting it next to "I'm not a crook",, "I invented the internet". "I did not have sex with that woman" and "Water boarding is not torture". If these fail to stand the test of time, there's always "I do not recall, your honor."

I hope people are taking time to watch sports drama unfold before their eyes. It's the NBA playoffs, where the best players on earth and some of the best athletes anywhere go mano a mano to see who's got what it takes to advance from the eight remaining teams.
The league of course puts on good shows all through the season, shortened this year because of a "labor dispute", but when it's playoff time, the defense gets tougher, the rebounds more hotly contested, the points decline and the pressure mounts. Last year's champs (the Mavs) are already gone, while in the east, ancient rivals the Celtics and 76ers are paired against each other again. Early favorites the Miami Heat have just lost one of their stars to injury, while the same problem led to an early exit by the Bulls. Meanwhile, lots of players are emerging from vicious scrums checking their faces for blood, with cameras just a few feet away. Everyone in the league makes tons of money, so this isn't about money. It's about being at your best when it counts the most.
But, naturally, not everyone likes the NBA. Some of it I can understand. Not everyone cares about any sports, and are baffled by people who do. Some people prefer college basketball, which is sometimes like the NBA without money, but usually just not as good. Some folks demand violence, and tune in to NASCAR or those ugly mixed martial arts guys.
But then, there are NBA objectors who will say things like "The pros make TOO MUCH money", or "They're too selfish" or " They're showoffs" or some other gripe about the way the game is officiated or coached or dominated by the players instead of management.
You have my word on this. When someone says things like the above, they are hiding their real complaint, perhaps even from themselves. Because what they may not say, but nevertheless believe, is that the NBA is too non-white.
There it is, folks. Ask the same people who their favorite player is, and they will reply "Larry Bird". Older ones may pick Jerry West. And both are excellent picks from among the top players ever to lace up sneakers. But ask them about Jordan, Chamberlain, Magic or any other nonwhite player, and they'll be back talking about some character flaw or other.
Of course, it's just a game, part of the entertainment industry, and there's nothing wrong with rooting for someone who looks or talks more like you. So we're not talking mortal sins here, but there it is. So who do we root for as clutch time is upon us? I just haven't decided.   


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