Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Play the Game

I watched Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Nuggets the other day. Actually I watched the last 4 minutes as it is common knowledge that the fourth quarter or to be more specific the last two minutes of the fourth quarter is the only part worth watching. It was a close game with Kobe Bryant getting really hot to help his team rally and take a 105 - 103 win. It should have been an adrenaline - packed viewing experience but as the last 4 minutes dragged on towards eternity (it felt like that to me, although it was closer to a half hour) I found myself headed for snooze city.

How is it that one of the most high - octane games on the planet has been reduced to this pitiable state? It is supposed to be the NBA where "the amazing happens", but the only amazing thing about it nowadays is the number of timeouts that can be squeezed into the final two - minutes. Sometimes they have as many as nine timeouts in less than six minutes which is more than the points that are likely to be scored in the same duration!

I hate timeouts for many reasons. The obvious reason is that it is such a buzz kill! There you are sitting at the edge of your seat wondering if LeBron is going to pick up where MJ left off and consolidate his position on the NBA equivalent of Mount Olympus when you find yourself watching some odious anti - dandruff shampoo commercial or worse , a close - up of some beady - eyed, puffed - up - with - self - importance coach.

Second it is such a cop - out. Players call timeouts when they are in a tight situation and rather than rise to the task (as MJ would certainly have done) they chicken out and go running to coachie (wonder what Freud would have said about the coach complex). Similarly coaches ask for time when the other team is in the process of soundly thrashing their boys' backsides. Personally I think it is a classic
example of how terrible sportsmanship and crass commercialism can ruin a fine sport beyond redemption.

Other sports suffer from similar deficits particularly cricket but Basketball is the worst. Thankfully the F1 drivers have not started abandoning their cars in the middle of the race to go huddle with their mechanics and Tennis stalwart, Roger Federer flies solo having passed up the chance to have someone hold his hand when Nadal is in the mood to savage him. Anyways to get back to the topic at hand, I have a suggestion for the NBA - Do the sport a favor, just play the game and ban the timeout. Coaches can plan strategy during practice sessions and as for the mandatory commercials which I understand are the lifeblood of every sport, air them at halftime and when the NBA bad boys get vicious, as is their wont drawing fouls by the dozen. This way the fans can have fun watching the final two minutes on TV instead of reading about it on MSN which as the situation now stands is the prefered choice for many. Are you reading this Mr. David Stern or is that a stupid question? :)


  1. Its all part of the game ! Everyone benefits from timeouts, and the players and coaches use timeouts creatively (Seriously). Watch enough playoff games and you'll see timeouts benefiting teams, and blowing up in their faces too.

    I saw the last quarter of the game too, and I'm amazed how many times Kobe Bryant keeps burying shots (and free throws) when he needs too. I hate the guy personally, but he's right up there with Steve Waugh, Nadal, Sampras, Tiger when it comes to mental toughness. Sigh, Damn lakers :(!

  2. I agree with you about Kobe. The guy is so good its scary! As for the timeouts, I still think they are completely unwarranted and serve only to stop a game dead in its tracks. But then I may be biased as the technical aspects of any sport usually go way over my head.

  3. Hi Anuja, did you see today's game ? LBJ and gang lost to Orlando. Hope they can still come back. Dont wanna see Kobe trample all over Orlando en route to his 4th title.

    & abt the timeouts, you're among many who dont like 'em, and all your points were well put. But if the mandarins of the game want to put in their $0.02 of stupidity, who can help it ?

    The other night, Albie Morkel bowled Brendan Mc Cullum, who is given not out because the previous ball was a no ball, and so the current one is a 'free hit'.

    Its a mad, mad sports world......

  4. Hey Anuja,

    I just wanted to stop by and show you some love. I'm a ballplayer so I tend to watch the whole game all the time and the timeouts, as much as they annoy me, help keep me in suspense and prolong the drama. Gotta love that.

    My team is the Lakers so don't be surprised when they go all the way.

    Also, check out my blog. My wife and I are documenting the first 100 days being married:


  5. So you like long drawn out climaxes huh? Lol.. And I'll definitely check out your blog.