I know the NFL is king of all things in the sports world, but does the NBA have to follow in its footsteps? Does it have to become the No Fun League, part deux?
The NBA’s crackdown on pre-tipoff activities, where a league official said it’s not a new rule but merely a focus on enforcing rules that were already in place, seems shortsighted to say the least. And if this rule is being enforced two months from now, I'll be shocked.
Let’s be real here. Fans likely haven’t emailed the league complaining about the time it takes to start a game because honestly, Staples Center isn’t the only arena that has a late-arriving crowd. A few extra seconds, although it can be a minor annoyance, isn’t top of mind during the last seconds of an exhilarating game. Nobody’s riding out of the arena, sitting in their car, and complaining that the game took too long to tip off.
Last I checked, the NBA is the league that isn’t as stuck up as the NFL or as stuffy and built on sometimes false tradition as MLB. At its core, it’s entertainment, and that’s how it’s been branded by the genius that is one David J. Stern. The NBA is the one league that’s akin to a concert—in a good way. The close proximity between players and fans makes for great moments of interaction, creating a connection no other sport has.
Let’s not act like the NBA hasn’t made commercials off these pre-game routines, like this one before the 2009 playoffs with the ‘Ye beat that shows…LeBron’s powder toss. And do you think the NBA didn’t like this Nike spot, where puppet LeBron shot powder all through his and Kobe’s “apartment”? And anytime you can get Chuck, Mayce (C-Webb) and Ernie talking about it with laughter, it can't be a bad thing, right?
In the interest of full disclosure, I sit courtside 82 games a year as a beat writer, so I’m privy to all of these rituals and superstitions. Have I heard grumbles from other media people or coaches about the time it takes to tip a game off? Yes.
Have I rolled my eyes a time or two? Sure, but to the point where the league should mandate a rule that will cost a team a delay-of-game, something that comes in handy in the last seconds of a close game? That’s taking it a step too far. KD’s rituals, LeBron’s powder toss, all of that stuff is entertaining. Before anyone starts acting like the old guy yelling to the kids from his window to stay off his lawn (even though they’re actually across the street), yes, MJ did it too.
Brotha tapped both ends of his Air Jordan’s, from the front to the middle to the back, gave Johnny “Red” Kerr the powder treatment and slid dap to the worker sliding the dry mop down the sideline of the United Center. Who knows if it took 90 seconds because nobody cared. Creating a meaningless rule will only draw more attention to it instead of defusing the matter.