Two months too soon

On November 6, 2012

The NBA season is underway and there is one big three that couldn't care less:

Me, myself and I.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a basketball fan - definitely more of a college fan, but I enjoy the pro game as well, especially after last year's shortened season.

What was so great about it last year?

After a summer lockout, fans - myself included - lost sleep over the thought of a winter without Kobe Bryant. Who would we take our anger out on if we didn't have LeBron James? I was accustomed to surviving Buffalo's winter by witnessing him miss game winners.

I enjoyed professional basketball last year more than any other season of my life because it was so short.

But now do you really expect me to adjust my weekly routine around the multitude of NBA games? Why are we doing this so soon?

This is way too early. Last season, the first game was Christmas day: Celtics and Knicks at noon. I scheduled my holiday Mass around this and I didn't mind waking up for an earlier one. I wasn't going to miss opening day.

It's a good thing I didn't. Amid unwrapping my gifts, I was given the greatest gift of all: a Knicks comeback victory. I was hooked. I spent the rest of the day ignoring family and sitting on the couch watching game after game.

But now you want me to plan my Halloween around opening day? Sorry, David Stern, that's not happening.

Last season, the Knicks played 66 games in 124 days. That's more than a game every other day. There were multiple streaks of three consecutive games and I wanted to see them all. I can't tell you how much schoolwork I skipped because of 'Melo and Linsanity.

Fast forward to this year. The Knicks will play 82 games over 168 days. I now have a 49 percent chance of turning on my TV and seeing the Knicks, rather than 53 percent. Yeah, it's only a 4 percent change, but the extra 44 days of the season just aren't worth it.

Do we really need 82 games to tell us the Heat will be the best team in the East? Or the top three in the West will be the Thunder, Spurs and Lakers? And, of course, the Knicks are going to disappoint but make the playoffs as a six or seven seed.

I could probably tell you the 16 playoff teams now, and I am certainly no expert.

There was more importance to each game last season. The league actually started playing defense. Players played hard for 48 minutes and wanted each and every game.

This is why I love the college season. It's roughly 30 games long and the athletes bleed for victory every night. Try finding a program that doesn't stress defense first. Coach Krzyzewski at Duke has had seasons where his squad was among the top of the nation in scoring, but he will tell you: if you're not playing defense, you're coming off the court. That's what makes the college game so much fun to watch.

The NBA played more defense last year, whether you realized it or not.

In the 2010-11 season, 27 of 30 teams averaged over 95 points a game (90 percent), nine (a third of the league) of them over 100. This was one year before the lockout.

Compare this to last year's more compacted season, which saw only 20 teams score more than 95 points per game. Only three averaged above 100.

I'm not saying I enjoy watching a 78-75 game, but a defensive battle every now and then is a nice change of pace from the 128-122 shootouts.

Bottom line: am I excited for basketball this season?

Yes. But don't talk to me until Christmas day.



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