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Basketball Holidays

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In an upcoming edition of the Carnival of the NBA, the host proposed a theme of 'New NBA Inspired Holidays.'  Well, it occurred to me that there are already two significant holidays on my calendar, which though unofficial, are observed with great reverence and quite religiously (and neither of them have to do with his noodliness, the FSM).  

In the basketball annum, you might think that the NBA Finals, or All Star weekend, or possibly even the Final Four would be the high points.  And for many, no doubt they are.  Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't miss an NCAA final for anything in the world.  And a seventh game in an NBA Final, which is becoming an endangered species unfortunately, will always be compelling.  (All Star weekend, on the other hand, I can do without.  Give me games that count.)

But as a hoops junkie, there is, for me, nothing to compare to the first weekend of the NCAA tournament - the four day basketball orgy just passed.  Back when I had a job, I always took the Thursday and Friday off, to sit home and watch basketball.  In fact, I have very fond memories of the days when ESPN broadcast the first round - before CBS went exclusive with the whole tournament.  CBS, for some reason, seems to think that (a) someone somewhere wants to take a break from basketball and watch "The Price is Right" (since when is Drew Carey hosting that show?) and (b) that just because I live in LA I want to watch UCLA demolish the Delta Devils.  

Back in the day, ESPN wasn't constrained by a regional affiliate strategy as CBS is - when the game they were showing got boring, they switched to another one.  And they wouldn't hesitate to switch back.  Whichever game was closest is the one you were watching.  If there were two close games, they'd split the screen.  They also wanted as many hours of coverage as possible, so the schedule ran from early morning until late at night.  CBS, inexplicably, has decided that 32 hours of basketball should fit into 2 5 hour time slots with a 2 hour break in between.  Because, you know, FSM forbid we should miss the local news.  It kind of defies logic - paying many millions of dollars for the broadcast rights, and then applying self-imposed limits to the broadcast hours.  Obviously you can't show 32 hours of basketball in a single day - but if you started an East coast venue at 10 AM Eastern, and had the last West coast game tip off at 9 PM Pacific, you'd have yourself fully 16 hours of programming, which, if I'm not misremembering, is what ESPN used to do.  Good times.  Good times.

But, despite the tomfoolery of the CBS network, the 4 day weekend of roundball beginning the third Thursday in March are the High Hoops Holy Days.  Are all the games great?  Well, no, but it's pretty damn close.  And I particularly love watching the mid-majors play - after seeing Duke and UCLA enough during the regular season that I know their play calls, it's a joy to see Davidson and Butler and Western Kentucky and Drake.  And watching San Diego beat UConn or Davidson beat Georgetown (I HATE the Big East) - well, that's what the NCAA tournament is all about, right?  It makes me remember the true meaning of Hoopsmas.

For me, the first weekend is the event.  I love the Sweet 16, the Elite 8, the Final Four, the Terrible Two and the Wonderful One too.  But 48 games in 4 days?  Literally 96 hours worth of 'win-or-go-home' games in an 80 hour period?  Well, if I could afford the 4 TiVos and the Sports-On-Demand package (and the divorce lawyer),  I'd watch every minute.  OK, I might fast forward through the blowouts.  

For those of you who say, hey, I thought the theme was NBA holidays, well, basketball is basketball.  And besides, at the obsessively compulsive blogger level, especially in ClipsNation, the tournament is prime draft scouting time.  Traditionally the Clippers are jockeying for lottery position in March as is the case this season, and the first weekend of the tournament showcases almost every likely lottery pick and about a thousand potential second rounders.  Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Jerryd Bayless, Brooke Lopez - all of the likely lottery picks were on display this weekend, but next weekend most of them will be gone.  Most exciting are the guys you DIDN'T know.  Think Stephen Curry can be a clutch scorer in the NBA after going for 40 and 30 in come-from-behind wins, scoring the vast majority of his points after halftime?  Think Courtney Lee is now a first round pick?  You bet.

My High Hoops Holy Days of the first weekend of the NCAA's have recently been joined by another basketball holiday.  One which conveniently comes with a built-in day off (convenient if I ever again get a real job, that is):  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday.  

Now, I'm cognizant of and sensitive to the issue of holidays being usurped by marketing driven agendas and thereby losing their original meaning.  I mean, why are we swilling beer on St. Patrick's Day when we should be, I don't know, chasing snakes or something?  And the beer companies and haunted houses have taken over All Hallow's Eve, which should of course be about... CANDY!  So it's fair to ask whether an orgy of NBA basketball is truly the best way to commemorate the great Dr. King.  Who knows?  I just watch the games!  There were 13 NBA games this past January 21, most of them matinees.  In addition to the Clippers broadcast (which started at noon Pacific), there was a TRIPLE HEADER on TNT, giving me a quadruple header of NBA deliciousness to savor.  And lest I forget the legacy of Dr. King, there were countless PSA's to remind me (which I usually fast-forwarded through).  

Sure, you'll get the occasional quadruple header on a weekend in the early rounds of the NBA Playoffs.  But there's something about 10 hours of NBA basketball in late January - the day after the AFC and NFC champs have been crowned in football - that screams "Hey world, I LOVE basketball and I don't give a RAT'S ASS about the Stupor Bowl!"

Now, you may have noticed a common theme in my basketball holidays.  They involve days with a whole lot of basketball on TV.  I've always been confused by the saying "Less is more."  Less is not more.  It's really the opposite of more, when you think about it.  As it happens, MORE is more.  Now, I might accept "Less is better" - I don't think I would necessarily agree, but at least it's not blatantly, obviously, logically, dictionarily wrong.  Less is not more.  More is always more.  Quality versus quantity?  That's a different question.  But if the quality is about equal, of course I want more.  (Cue the Andrea True Connection.)

So while I look forward to other basketball Holidays appearing in the near future, I already have two major ones in my household.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take down the NCAA decorations, and recycle the Hoopsmas shrub.  I always get so depressed after the High Hoops Holy Days.  Only 305 days until MLK Day!