I have a friend who will not be watching the Celtics or NBA basketball in general this year. He’s older than me and has become disillusioned by the involvement of agents in the sport, the inability of small market teams to land free agents, the creation of supposed super teams like the Miami Heat and more.
All of this is nonsense, of course.
In the past thirty years, only eight different teams have won NBA championships, including the Celtics and the Heat.
The domination of certain markets is nothing new.
But his newfound attitude is not surprising. I have a number of friends who have abandoned baseball, basketball and even football because of a variety of reasons, mostly related to the way the games are played, the ways the teams are assembled and the attitudes of today’s ballplayers.
All of these friends are older than me, and all are over fifty years old.
I do not think their age is a coincidence.
I would argue that quitting on a sport has more to do with becoming old, nostalgic and intractable and less to do with the fundamentals of the game. My friends may believe in their hearts that they have abandoned these teams and sports as a result of their passion for the way the game used to be structured and played, but the truth is that all sports evolve over time, and these guys have found themselves at an age when they can no longer adapt to these changes.
How many twenty or even thirty year old guys have you met who once loved a sport with all their hearts but have now given it up?
No, it’s around forty, and perhaps closer to fifty, when the game no longer resembles the game of a man’s youth and these old men no longer want to adapt to the changes. While I understand the sentiment, I find it a little sad and tragic.
I cannot imagine quitting on basketball because three possibly incompatible players decided to join forces in Miami or because agents may have helped to facilitate the move.
The NBA has a bad guy once again (something it hasn’t had since the Detroit Pistons of the 1990s), and it makes Celtics victories even more sweet.
It’s basketball. No matter how the teams were put together and who had their hands in the decision-making pie, it’s basketball.
If I ever get to the point that I sound like an old man, complaining about free agency, league balance or a lack of fundamentals in today’s game, smack me on the head with my cane, stuff my AARP card down my throat and remind me of the greatness of these games, regardless of how they may evolve over the years.