This may sound bad coming from somebody in my profession, but by the time the NBA Finals rolls around, I’m just about tired of basketball. Having watched multiple NBA games every single day for the previous eight months and writing a column about it every single night (weekends and holidays, too), I’m always secretly hoping whoever wins Game 1 of the Finals can complete a nice, boring sweep so I can watch track and baseball the rest of the summer.
Then around mid-August, I’m ready for the NBA again and ready for my NBA League Pass renewal. That’s when the prospect of watching every pro game goes from “I have to” back to its rightful “I get to.”
At risk of sounding like a shill for David Stern, you NEED to get League Pass. If you’re a rookie, the first time you get it, it’s like undressing a woman for the first time: There’s so much tantalizing material laid out in front of you, it’s tough to decide where to start. Whether you go with what’s familiar (your local team), what’s safe (the Lakers, Celtics, etc.) or something new and risky (Grizzlies, Bobcats, etc.) is on you. But you can’t lose either way.
It’s easy for me to advise you to drop $199 on League Pass when mine gets reimbursed, but if you can afford it, do it. Here are 21 reasons why:
1. Kevin Durant — Before the age of the Internet and developments like League Pass, KD could’ve went through a Mitch Richmond-like career, secretly getting a ton of buckets while not enough people got to enjoy the experience.
2. Kevin Martin — Finally you can answer the question we’ve all had looking at box scores: How does that guy keep getting 30 a game?
3. Joe Johnson — The fact that so many readers think J.J. isn’t in the same class as Brandon Roy tells me that more people need to watch Joe play on a regular basis.
4. Dirk Nowitzki’s clutch ability — He’s more clutch than he gets credit for. You may have seen him miss game-winners, lose a playoff series he should’ve won, or disappear a few times in the fourth quarter. You probably missed a lot of the game-icing free throws, the daggers threes to kill a rally, and the fourth quarters that he’d dominated.
5. Local announcers — From the good (George Blaha in Detroit, Jerry Reynolds in Sacramento) to the bad (Tommy Heinsohn in Boston, Sean Elliott in San Antonio) to the fine (Stephanie Ready in Charlotte, Stacy Paetz in Indiana), it’s better than listening to the same ol’ national crew every week.
6. Clyde Drexler & Clyde Frazier — They deserve their own category. You’ll never hear a grown man giggle more than Drexler during a Rockets game, and Frazier’s style on the mic is equal parts poetic, pimpish and hilarious.
7. Local commercials — Like this.
8. Michael Jordan cameos — For the MJ followers who jizz in their pants whenever the G.O.A.T. is mentioned, if you watch Bobcats games on the regular, you can have a couple handfuls of Jonas Brothers moments throughout the season.
9. December 19, 2008 — From that night’s Smack: “…you live for those times when you find yourself frantically flipping between a couple contests in simultaneous crunch-time, when you’re afraid to turn away from one game but don’t wanna miss a game-winner in the other. That’s how it was Friday with Jazz/Pistons and Lakers/Heat. At one point, Pau Gasol was stepping to the line with eight seconds left and L.A. down two, at the exact same time Utah was looking to inbound from midcourt with 1.4 seconds left in OT and the score tied.” With League Pass, those kind of nights are commonplace.
10. Kobe Bryant vs. Bad Teams — Watching Kobe eviscerate defenses like New York, Memphis and Washington while just rationing out the intensity he’d have on full-bore against a contender can be fascinating.
11. Tim Duncan vs. Good Teams — Just like watching Duncan decide he’s going to administer an industrial-grade meat-slapping against a fellow All-Star rather than let Parker and Manu handle the lesser opponents.
12. Derrick Rose & Tyrus Thomas — You know what D-Rose can do. But Tyrus manages to consistently do amazing things on the court, even if that one Highlight of the Year is the only mark he makes on the game.
13. Milwaukee Bucks — My sleeper pick to be one of the more entertaining teams to watch next season. Again, I didn’t say they’ll be good. Just interesting.
14. Washington Wizards — The Warriors of the East. A circus act full of personalities whose on-court style is also fun to watch.
15. Point Guards — There are too many potentially great matchups on a nightly basis to limit yourself to the occasional ESPN/ABC/TNT game. On one night you could get Rose vs. Parker, Kidd vs. Nash, CP3 vs. Devin Harris, Deron vs. Monta, Rondo vs. Chauncey, and Tyreke vs. Brandon Jennings.
16. Garbage time — You get guys like Gerald Green, James White, Will Bynum and J.J. Hickson on the court with nothing serious at stake, and it’s highlights galore.
17. Midseason Grizzlies games — When there are more nachos in the building than paying customers. You can hear the beer man soliciting, the players talking sh*t on the court, and O.J. Mayo’s agent making plans to get to another market ASAP.
18. Random celebrities — You can see Jack, Spike and Tiger all the time now. League Pass is good for those out-of-nowhere Lil’ Wayne and Hulk Hogan sightings. You may even get a Vanilla Ice halftime show.
19. Atlanta crowds — County jail or the NYC subway is the only other place you’ll see a dude who looks like Steve Carell sitting next to a dude who looks like Lil’ Boosie. And at Hawks’ games, they’re both having a good time.
20. L.A. Clippers — Whether they’re good or terrible, the Clips always entertain. Last year it was like a contest to see how many different ways a team can lose a game, and between that you got to watch Eric Gordon begin building an All-Star career while Baron Davis acted like Coach Tupac had threatened him before the season.
21. The Old Guys — You may not even realize it now, but you’re gonna miss watching guys like Grant Hill, Shaq and Kidd when they’re gone. When all you’ve got left is memories and YouTube, you’ll regret not catching more actual games.