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NBA nostalgia

Walker Carey | Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I miss the NBA. There, I said it.

After spending the last several weeks completely unnerved over the failure of the players and owners to reach a new collective bargaining agreement in time for the beginning of the season, I believe I have reached a point where I am no longer angry; instead I’m just sad.

I miss my hometown Chicago Bulls. I miss watching my favorite player, reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose, annihilate the competition. I miss the enthusiasm and tenacity that Joakim Noah brings to the court each night. I miss watching Luol Deng use his length to stifle opposing scorers. Most of all, I miss watching the games and seeing the United Center filled to capacity willing my beloved team to victory.

Last spring, when I was supposed to be studying for finals, I devoted most of my attention to the Western Conference semi-finals. In that round, I watched Phil Jackson’s final stand as his Los Angeles Lakers squad was thoroughly dismantled by the Dallas Mavericks in four games. In the other semi-final, I watched the high-scoring and up-tempo war between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies. I watched my second favorite player, Thunder forward Kevin Durant, score points by the truckload. I watched Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook struggle with whether he wanted to be a great player or a good scorer. I watched guys like Tony Allen, Zach Randolph and OJ Mayo shake off their ugly “me-first” reputations and became solid team players for the Grizzlies. Even with four finals hanging over my head, I loved that week.

One round later, I watched in horror as the villainous “Big Three” of the Miami Heat topped my Bulls. I watched the Mavericks topple the Thunder, with veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry. I suffered through the talk of how LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat were too dominant to allow the Mavericks a shot at winning. I was amused as I watched veterans Mike Bibby and Juwan Howard play in the NBA Finals. I cheered when Nowitzki brought the Mavericks back from 15 down to take Game Two. I was elated when I saw the underdog Mavericks clinch the NBA crown on the home court of the “Big Three.” After the final buzzer, I was moved when I watched Nowitzki, overcome by his emotions, run straight into the locker room to celebrate privately after so many years of trying.

I love the NBA and I loved the joy of last spring’s playoffs. I understand that the NBA is a business, but I do not think that should deprive so many fans of the ability to watch one of the best games in the world played by some of the best athletes in the world. I realize the league will undoubtedly lose some fans whenever this is resolved, but I vow I will not be among them. If you are a fan, I implore you to take the high road and do the same.