When the NBA released its schedule for the 2011-12 season back in July, we all got excited. I mean, who wouldn’t? A new season means a fresh start before any true delusions of grandeur set in. “Believe me, the T-Wolves could go 82-0!” “Why wouldn’t the Magic trade us Dwight Howard for Theo Ratliff?!” “I bet Blake Griffin will dunk from out of bounds this season.” Although I can’t tell you exactly who said these things, just know that they’ve all been said. Somewhere. But until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, these conversations won’t be happening near an NBA area any time soon.
Tonight, the NBA’s 66th season was supposed to tip-off with a doubleheader on TNT for the 16th straight season. In the first game, the Mavericks would have opened up defense of their title by hosting the Bulls at 8 p.m., followed by the Thunder visiting the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. And although not nationally televised, the Rockets were slated to start against the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
I’m not just upset about missing three NBA games tonight, but rather what our current situation says for the future of the game I love. Friends ask me all the time how the lockout affects my job, and I tell them that it’s more about how it affects my being. More than five-on-five, tonight was about seeing if Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and Brian Cardinal were still members of the Mavs. Tonight was about Derrick Rose‘s first game as the reigning MVP. Tonight was about how Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook respond to their critics, and how Kobe Bryant begins his 16th NBA season as no longer the odds-on favorite to be the last man standing. Tonight was about the real post-Yao Ming era in Houston, and the real post-Jerry Sloan era in Utah.
Before the first game, TNT would have televised the championship ring ceremony, giving 38-year-old Jason Kidd the one piece of jewelry he’s always been without. And for all the purists out there, was there anyone that people liked to watch more this June than Dirk Nowitzki? Tonight, Shaq would have joined E.J., Kenny and Charles in the studio, and who knows what would have happened there.
What will I be doing tonight instead of watching hoops? Thankfully, with baseball over for the year, there’s a new episode of New Girl on FOX. Yes, instead of Rose and Dirk, KD and Kobe, Scola and C.J., I get Zooey. And at Day 124 of the lockout, some part of me is okay with that.
What are you going to be doing tonight instead of watching Opening Night?
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