When you live in one place or region for your entire life, your ability to view things from a national perspective is skewed. If you spent your whole life in Buffalo, you might think the NHL is huge. If you have never spent a lot of time outside of Pittsburgh, you may not realize how ridiculous you sound when you say “yinz.” A lifelong New York City resident won’t understand someone who enjoys the wilderness. The list goes on and on and on.
With that being said, the NBA is of very little interest to the average Buffalonian. Even Chris, one of the biggest sports fans that I know, tried to live-blog the first game of this years finals and ended up with a post full of advertising critiques and discussion of The Incredible Hulk and the new High School Musical show (Chris is also one of the biggest Zac Efron fans I know, as well.) Other than the handful of baby boomers out there that have continued to follow the NBA three decades after the Braves skipped town, there seems to be very few WNYers out there that live and die by an NBA team (For those that are interested, the guys over at The Ultimate Sports Road Trip have been keeping the Buffalo blogosphere up-to-date throughout the NBA finals.) For all intents and purposes, the NBA is to Buffalo what the NHL is to the rest of the nation.
The Lakers/Celtics match-up was enough for me to tune in, to the delight of Mr. Stern, I’m sure. In fact, I was pretty excited for it. I’ve now had two roommates that were NBA fans, and while I haven’t become a full-fledged fan myself, I do have somewhat of a passing interest. I’m also a bit of a sports history nut, so I can appreciate the rivalry that is the Celtics and the Lakers. This was supposed to be the series that vaulted me into NBA fandom; the series that completed my transition from a kid from an NBA-less city that had no appreciation for the game to a defender and watcher of the sport.
So far, it hasn’t happened. Quite the opposite, actually. I dislike the NBA far more now than I did prior to the start of the Finals. The NBA’s marquee match-up, the series between two teams chock full of stars in big markets, has been an absolute flop from a quality of play standpoint, and may drive the casual fan away. At times, the defensive has been atrocious, players can’t find their shots for large stretches of the game, and there has yet to be a moment where both teams are playing with any sort of intensity at the same time. I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t even find Game 4 to be that interesting. When the Celtics began mounting their now-historic comeback, the Lakers played the most uninspired defense I have ever seen. They collectively gave up, and that doesn’t bode well for an exciting game, or series for that matter.
I tried, NBA. I gave you a fair shake. I watched more games in this year’s playoffs that I had ever before. I entertained people at my house for the sole purpose of watching the Finals. I watched the games, from start to finish. But it wasn’t enough.
So the NBA goes back into obscurity for me. I’m right back where I started: the Buffalonian with no interest in the league.
I guess sometimes you just can’t change the way you were brought up.