I’m an Indiana native. I grew up shooting baskets on barn sides in gravel driveways alongside mellow gold cornfields. I learned to love the Boilermakers and to hate the Hoosiers. I played Nerf basketball in my bedroom and my brother and I had dunk contests in our living room. I could pull off the nastiest tomahawk jam of any 5-year-old. I was a basketball junkie. When I moved to Orlando, the Magic became my team.
I’ve been a Magic fan since the days of Anthony Bowie, Terry Catledge and Greg Kite. Those were not very good days to be a Magic fan. But then Orlando won the lottery, brought Shaq to town, and everything changed. There was a buzz around the “Orena” and soon we had a team of Anfernee Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott, Horace Grant and The Diesel. We had one of the best and most exciting teams in the NBA. Going to games became an event and watching them was a ritual. As a kid, I loved the NBA and my Orlando Magic.
Times have changed since those boyhood days. The NBA is still here, bigger and louder than ever. It seems like every year another arena is being built. If a player isn’t happy he can demand a trade and his wish will probably be granted. When trades are agreed on, the commissioner has shown he will pull a veto when he sees fit. Players tweet rappers and play for Russian presidential candidates. LeBron James goes on ESPN to let the world know of his decision to leave and humiliate his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Players like Dwight Howard of our own Magic complain about not being in a big enough market and publicly demand to be traded. He’s the leading vote-getter in this year’s All-Star game with 1,600,390 votes. That’s more than Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles), Derrick Rose (Chicago) and LeBron James (Miami).
The NBA does not make much sense anymore and neither does Howard. He’ll probably leave town, just like Shaq did, and us fans will be back to cheering for a terrible team. But before he goes, we have an All-Star game to watch. It’s in Orlando this year and Magic fans are excited about it. But we can’t go. Not because we have to work or study. Nope. It’s because the ticket prices are for the rich and famous and we ain’t rich and famous. At least not many of us.
The NBA hates the everyday fan. I’m convinced of this. Upper bowl tickets start at $500 a pop. If you want to get a closer look, prepare to drop close to seven bills for a lower bowl seat. If you’re a season ticket holder, you only get the opportunity to buy a ticket if your name gets pulled in their lottery system. Most of the allotment of tickets are going to celebrities instead of the fans.
You know what? Fuck you, NBA. You can take your astronomical ticket prices and your unappreciative players and stick it where the colonoscopy pipe goes. Then you will feel like all of us fans.
The NBA was something I loved as a kid. Something I couldn’t get enough of. Now, I’m not sure what it is.
The NBA: something that I used to know.