Photo from NBA.com
In case you didn’t know: I love the NBA. I have preferred teams and favorite players, but mostly I just love the National Basketball Association. Love is a strong word, but how else could I describe something that I am intensely passionate about and devote a considerable amount of time to? From highlight reel dunks to memorable underdog stories, there are many facets of the game that draw myself and so many others into the drama and spectacle that is the NBA.
It is unusual to be such a big professional basketball fan where I’m from. The demographic is generally much more interested in baseball and football, save for March Madness. I didn’t even really realize that there was such a thing as the NBA until I was probably 12 years old or so. At my house we watched a lot of Cardinals baseball and my Dad would record the Chiefs on a VHS on Sundays, but that was about our only sports intake. I therefore missed the Michael Jordan era entirely, though he was probably the only pro I could name at the time.
Once I was aware of it, I still didn’t watch, because no one else did either. Things changed when my Dad got caught up in Steve Nash highlights around 2005 or so. He and I played High Heat Baseball on the computer, Knockout Kings boxing on the GameCube, and NFL 2K on the Ps2. One day, he came home with NBA Live 2005 for the GameCube, and I was never the same.
Pops and I played the game for multiple hours each week. We would play each other many nights when he got home from work and almost every Sunday afternoon. He usually stuck with the highly rated Spurs or Pistons, while I loved to be different teams all the time, learning about every player in the game. I beat him down without mercy, winning right around 95% of the time. Dad chose instead to pursue moral victories by being under the “line of embarrassment” (20 points) or even the “line of humiliation” (30 points).
Photo of virtual Steve Nash delivering the perfect pass in 2005 from nba-live.com
I learned so much about the teams and players, that I quickly became a big fan of the league. Once I got to high school, one of my favorite teachers introduced us to fantasy sports. My LeBron James-led fantasy squad took first place in my first fantasy season and I became deeply hooked on NBA basketball. I began watching games all the time, buying all kinds of merchandise, and exhausting people around me with statistics. I started my own fantasy league, which I usually won in the beginning, but my fondness for certain players has led to less competitive seasons recently (looking at you, Blake Griffin).
So here I am, an NBA fan in Southwest Missouri with a man-cave filled with junk and a mind filled with what some might consider pretty useless knowledge. I do have some good friends that keep up with the NBA also (or at least humor me) and a wife that puts up with me and even knows who Luis Scola is. The 2017-18 season starts soon – many people feel like last season just ended. They’ll get over it though, and people like me are wildly excited to get started. So it will continue year after year. I just hope that I will have a future kid that will beat me down mercilessly in an NBA video game someday and fall in love with the game also. Long live the NBA!