If you love the NBA as I do, then the past month has been absolute torture for you. A little piece of you dies every time the NBA cancels a new block of games.
It doesn’t help that the media routinely builds up hope with reports that “progress was made” or “there’s reason for optimism that a deal will get done soon,” only to inform you the following day that talks have broken off and the two sides are as far apart as ever. As depressing as it is, it’s impossible to turn away because you desperately want to see some basketball.
As the lockout continues to drag on and the threat of more games and potentially even the season being canceled, NBA fans need to find alternative sources of entertainment. So I came up with a lockout survival guide consisting of ten ways NBA junkies can get their fix until the two sides reach an agreement.
10) NBA Gossip
How bad are you jonesing for some NBA action? Athletes and their families have infiltrated the world of reality television and gossip publications. You need look no further than the Kardashian sisters, Khloe and Kim, who married NBA players Lamar Odom and Kris Humphries. Carmelo Anthony’s wife Lala Vazquez has her own show on VH1 called Lala’s Full Court Press and Basketball Wives is back for a third season. You can also see what many of your favorites ballplayers are up to by following them on twitter.
9) High School Hoops
This may seem like a desperation move, but it could end up being quite rewarding. If you really love the game, you’ll enjoy checking out some of the top teams and potential future stars in your city or simply watching local players or teams progress over the course of the season.
8) Basketball Books
You can stay close to the game by brushing up on your basketball history. There are countless great books about the history of the game, players, teams and leagues, as well as informative manuals on Xs and Os. Jerry West’s new book Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon has received rave reviews and you can find other ideas from a previous post counting down the ten best basketball books I’ve read.
7) Join a League
Who needs to watch b-ball on TV when you can play yourself? Rent out a local high school gym once a week with a bunch of your buddies or join a team in a competitive league. There are leagues for all different ability and age levels. Alternatively, you may consider coaching a youth intramural team in your spare time.
6) Street Ball
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this because if the next street ball season arrives before the NBA returns it will mean that the entire 2011-12 season was canceled (unless you live in a warm climate where the playgrounds are packed year round). Street ball at its best is basketball in its most artistic and improvisational form. Every major city has a park where the best street ballers show off their games, the Mecca being Rucker Park in Harlem, New York City.
5) Occupy the NBA
One of the most frustrating aspects of the lockout is that we the fans feel completely helpless. The players argue that their unique talent drives the league and they should be compensated accordingly. News flash! There would be no NBA without the fans. That $4 billion the players and owners are arguing over comes from our pockets, yet we have no say in these negotiations.
Take the power back! In the spirit of the times, express your displeasure with the current lockout by occupying the NBA. David Zirin discussed this issue at length a few weeks ago in his column Edge of Sports.
Remember this game? It’s played on ice, six guys on a side, with sticks, a puck and the occasional brawl. Many basketball fans grew up on hockey as well, but lost interest in the game as the NHL’s popularity has declined in the U.S. over the past twenty years. If you prefer professional sports, it may be a good time to give hockey another chance.
3) Old School Hoops
If it’s NBA or bust for you and no other level of basketball will do, there are plenty of great old NBA games available for your viewing pleasure. NBATV is currently airing games from the memorable 1993 playoffs, highlighted by two great conference championship series between the Bulls and Knicks and Rockets and Suns. ESPN Classic is another source for legendary NBA games and your local sports channel may turn to NBA classics as well, with plenty of air time to fill during the lockout.
2) European Leagues
With the NBA on hiatus, the highest quality of basketball is being played in Europe. Many NBA players have signed with European teams either for the entire season or until the lockout ends, including all-stars Deron Williams and Tony Parker. The Euroleague, a tournament consisting of 24 of the best teams in Europe is underway and can be seen live on Euroleague.net and ESPN 3. There are many high quality leagues throughout Europe. Two of the best are Liga ACB in Spain and the Italian league Lega Basket Serie A. Eurobasket.com is a great source for information about the various leagues and news on NBA players playing in Europe.
1) College Basketball
For fans who love the NBA, this is your most accessible and exciting alternative until the lockout ends. Oddly, the NBA labor strife should result in greater competition in the college game this season. Some of the best players in the country, including North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger, remained in college in order to avoid the possibility of being locked out.