Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The NBA: Where Penetration Happens

...and good basketball too.

When I first wrote up this post, I got a little carried away. In trying to promote the NBA playoffs, I took some cheap shots at Sam and his affinity for the NHL. In the spirit of brotherhood and promoting harmony among the members of the 9.7%, I chose to amend the post. This one is far more pro-NBA than anti-NHL but, have no fear, I'll still throw a few low blows to hockey here. If you want to see the original, unedited version, just become a follower of Couchwarmers by clicking "follow" towards the bottom right of this page. We'll include a copy of that post in your gift package*. If you're too proud to become a follower or don't want to give Sam and me an ego boost, you'll just have to settle for this one.
*Not actually a thing

The NBA playoffs are well underway, and that means that NBA playoff commercials are becoming more tired by the day. This year, we get commercials that take postgame press conferences, slice and dice them and subsequently dub them to rap songs to make a final product like this one. I thought the 2008 NBA playoffs commercials with the two faces were cool but the last two years haven't done it for me.

Fortunately, the product on the court is doing just fine. Perhaps the most intriguing series of round 1 is Kobe vs Durant...I mean, the Lakers vs the Thunder. In this series, which is currently tied 2-2, you have:

a) two of the top-5 players in the league squaring off against each other

b) one of those top-5 guys having four rings and being considered by some to be the heir apparent to MJ

c) the other one of those top-5 guys having been the scoring leader this season at age 21 and having arguably the highest ceiling of any player in basketball

d) the defending champions

e) the opposition, that has a lower average age than the Tanner girls in Full House

f) an emerging all-star point guard in Russell Westbrook

g) and finally, Ron Artest, the guy who sang "My Heart Will Go On" in a kitchen in front of a random Filipino family (I was just going to link that video but, really, it should be embedded. Here you go.)

But that's not all we've got. We have LeBron sinking half court shots at the buzzer, Dwyane Wade dropping 46 in a game, Paul Pierce nailing fallaway jumpers for the win, Brandon Roy coming back from a torn meniscus, Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings emerging as legitimate leaders for two young teams and Deron Williams emerging as an elite point guard for any team. The NBA has thrust its stars, both rookie and veteran, into the spotlight and proven that final scores are not the only thing people care about. NBA fans will watch LeBron James play even if his team is favored by 25 points. The NBA is developing enough compelling talent to entice people to watch in spite of the relative lack of parity. Obviously you want close games and tight series, but the personnel alone has proven in these playoffs to be enough of a draw for the sport.

Which brings me to hockey. The only personnel casual sports fans (who generally don't like hockey) know are Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Surely there is more talent in the league but people just don't know who they are. I'll give the NHL a lot of credit for marketing the $*#% out of their two superduperstars, especially considering the disproportionately small media coverage the NHL gets, but it shouldn't stop there. Tell us why we should watch any other team than the Capitals and the Penguins. That's what David Stern has done so well with the NBA. After the "Malice in the Palace" in 2004, the NBA was in pretty bad shape. People stopped tuning in because they thought the league was filled with thugs. I even was a bit disillusioned with the sport at the time. Stern responded to this concern by flooding sports fans with "NBA Cares" commercials and putting the fate of the league on the shoulders of the new budding stars -- LeBron, Wade, Paul, Williams, Howard, Bosh, etc. He didn't ask two guys to carry the torch for him; he asked a new generation.

I was a hockey fan once upon a time, as many people were, and then steadily lost interest in the sport. I could be won over again if Gary Bettman and crew give me a reason why I should care about more than just Ovie and Sid. Until that happens, I'm perfectly content sitting back and watching a 30 point Cavs blowout.

Oh, and just so you know, the Couchwarmers are on Deadspin and The Big Lead....again. You may want to bookmark us before we become too popular, because there's nothing worse than a bandwagon fan.


  1. Kubin how can you talk about the playoffs without mentioning my boy Rajon? You've completely lost it

  2. Maybe Bettman should institute a dress code in the NHL to improve the leagues image.

    Congrats on getting on Deadspin and the Big Lead. You guys deserve a ton of credit.

  3. I have to agree about the NHL and their lack of marketing the game outside of Crosby and Ovy. Why not put together highlight reel videos ,fueled by pump up songs, of the top rivalries in the league? Just a thought.