Musings on the NBA championship

Ben Clarke Political Consultant and Speechwriter
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Time does not heal all wounds.

It’s been a week since the Celtics lost to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Championships. As kids, my parents taught us to take the high road in the wake of defeat. Someday I will.

If the Red Sox pissed away a crucial game like that, I would be on a ledge somewhere. There would be a bungee cord attached. The jury’s still out on my ability to summon the testicular fortitude to jump. But out there I would be.

I dislike the Lakers; their fans more so. They did little throughout the series to change that. Find me a lot of genuine Lakers fans – this side of the front row of a Yankee Stadium playoff game – and I will personally deliver you an autographed copy of my life’s spiritual guide: “The Audacity of Hope,” by Barack Obama.

Let’s begin.

Ever wonder what all those bad actors out there do when they are not making bad movies? They tender $7,000 to sit courtside Staples Center to show off their crisp new designer Lakers hats. They cheer for their new favorite players. Attempt a lip-read sometime. It’s humorous. “Go Kory Bryant … hit another four-pointer!” Throughout, you can catch them sneaking in a mouthful of the sushi they smuggled in from Nobu.

Most of these folks aren’t really from Los Angeles. Not many are. But if, say, their favorite team were the Memphis Grizzlies, do we really think they would drop everything to jet down to Tennessee to catch a Game 7?

No. Lakers games are not sporting events for most Lakers fans, they are just events. An easier-to-come-by ticket to the Oscars, minus the tuxedo.

In 2008, I flew out to LA to catch Game 6 between the Celtics and Lakers, hoping to see the Celts clinch the series on LA’s vintage Italian marble court. Sorry, wood. I wore my worn out old Celtics hat. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was sitting alongside an old friend – a combat Marine. Or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was also sitting alongside an actor buddy of my old boss … an intimidating looking fellow who starred in the modern-day Western classic “Tombstone.” But I wore the hat with no fear. Past experience has taught me NOT to wear native sports garb at similar playoff events in places like New York, Oakland or Chicago.

This is LA. I endured a little ribbing from surrounding fans. “Magic was a better guard than Bird!” Hmm. Was Larry a guard? “West Coast, baby!” Easy there, Snoop Dogg. “The vichyssoise in Malibu is SO much better than the vichyssoise in Nantucket!” I wouldn’t really know. You got me there, Chester.

For the big games, Lakers brass trot out Christina Aguilera to sing the national anthem. At the old Garden, we get the Boston Police Benevolent Society’s finest.

And let’s get this over with now. Surely the UV rays inside the Staples Center are dangerous, but do you really need to wear the Gucci sunglasses? None of this, of course, applies to Jack Nicholson. He is legitimate, and unimpeachably cool.

In Boston, the cameras span the stadium seats mid-game for Celtic watch. They point out the old greats like Havlicek, Russell, and Cousy. In L.A., the national TV cameras do a periodic “celebrity watch.” Please.

Sycophant announcers fawn over Laker coach Phil Jackson. Apparently, he is an accomplished ‘meditator’. So is my dog.

NBA basketball is in itself infuriating. So called 20-second timeouts last 2 minutes. It is borderline impossible to watch a continuous minute of play without a referee blowing the whistle. And teams get, on average, a month off between big games.

The worst acting is on the court. There is nothing more embarrassing than watching a seven-foot player ‘flop’ their way to a foul. It is pathetic. Worse, they are so battered when they return to the bench, they cannot even muster the strength to place a towel around their neck, or reach for water to sip. It is done for them. Sorry, I am sure it is cool to tell your friends you work courtside within ten feet of NBA stars, but if your job entails gently placing a towel proportionally around a player’s neck and holding the straw to his mouth, probably best to go back for that MBA.

To be fair, I need an oxygen tank after walking to get the mail in the afternoon.

From a physical perspective, hockey puts basketball to shame. I read about an NHL player who took a puck to the mouth in the 1st period of a playoff game this year. He spit out a few teeth, had the nerve endings ‘trimmed’ in the locker room, and returned for the 2nd period.

I saw a lot of fans sporting Lakers hats and Yankees shirts during this series. Really? If your two favorite teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Yankees, I’ve got a risky stock for you to look into: Microsoft.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss accepted the championship trophy after Game 7 and thanked the ‘best crowd in basketball’. An addendum, perhaps: ‘I would like to thank the best crowd in basketball … the ones able to peel themselves away from their 4th wife for the evening, snatch their kid from the nanny, and catch a Gulfstream charter into Burbank Airport for the game.’

Lakers fans will dismiss my diatribe – call me bitter. They’d be right. But nobody really likes you guys anyway.

This piece originally ran in the Greenfield Recorder (Mass.). The writer can be reached at benclarkeopinion@gmail.com