NBA must end tacit approval of crude behavior ruining basketball


How does one seek asylum from an asylum? 

The games typically start with the house lights turned way down, searchlight beams sweeping the floor like a supermarket opening or a nighttime prison yard inspection. 

Next, pounding, menacing music fills the arena, like war drums, bellows fanning the flames. 

Then the public address voice takes over, screaming an hysterical welcome that’s one part ready-to-rumble, the other part shrieks to join him in committing bloody murder. 

Then the combatants are introduced, starting with the hate-worthy, contemptible visitors, followed by the loud, elongated, exaggerated names of the home team’s players, the uniformed mob prepared to storm the Bastille. The assembled crowd is incited to frenzy. 

It’s unnerving, illogical, uncivilized and increasingly ugly, if not dangerous. It’s an NBA playoff game. 

The NBA, perhaps as part of its marketing plan, has invited all — PA announcers, patrons, players and increasingly gamblers — to exhibit their most actively visceral low instincts. 

The crowd is urged to demonstrate, audience participation that simmers then boils as per the prompts. And there’s no prompt to the sober or inebriated more anticipated than the guy who has made a bet that he’s losing or lost — especially at the urgings of the NBA, its teams and arena-signage sponsors. 

James Harden is introduced before the 76ers' Game 1 matchup with the Raptors.
James Harden is introduced before the 76ers’ Game 1 matchup with the Raptors.

Even the exchanges between players and fans on antisocial social media have become vulgar and misanthropic as a matter of course. At the games, the exchanges between patrons and players have grown profane, fanatical and occasionally physical. Basketball games as holy wars. 

Crude chants inspired by group obedience, weak wills and infusions of profit-soaked alcohol have become more common than a give-and-go. 

A civil conversation, perhaps even one about basketball, with the person seated next to you has become difficult, if not impossible, due to obligatory blaring music and other sensory deprivations from the huge arena speakers. Enjoy! 

Celtics fans jeer Kyrie Irving.
Celtics fans jeer Kyrie Irving.

Hardly a game is played that doesn’t include an ugly hassle between and among players or between players and customers. They’re quickly disseminated by social media, then on to YouTube, along with recurring messages: “At any price, aren’t you glad you weren’t there? Would I take my kids to this? Where is the sport in this sport?” 

And it’s well beyond time for Adam Silver, a decent and intelligent man who knows right from wrong, to be doing all he can, privately and publicly, to save the NBA from becoming a pro wrestling spectacle orchestrated by Mr. and Mrs. Vince McMahon. 

Tone it down, turn it down, demand better from the players, especially on social media, and make it abundantly clear that those patrons with misconduct in their self-entitled, booze-triggered minds, will no longer be welcomed. They didn’t pay for the privilege of abusing players or the senses of customers nearest them. 

Treating the transgressors with fines “for inappropriate language [or gestures] directed at fans” or “referees” or “opponents” doesn’t cut it. Bad continues to grow worse. Not everyone is as privileged as Spike Lee. 

Nikola Jokic (left) and Steph Curry (right) exchange words during the Warriors' Game 2 win over the Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic (left) and Steph Curry (right) exchange words during the Warriors’ Game 2 win over the Nuggets.

And it’s time for TV’s NBA voices to stop ignoring what they and we can’t miss. Silence is pandering to people’s most vulgar actions, it’s tacit approval. All of them — all of them — must stop playing pretend. What are they afraid of, the rancor of desensitized dimwits, players and fans? 

They hear the chants, they see the near-brawls, they read the tweets. They see fans close to the court screaming hatred in players’ faces. They know what’s going on and it has no upside. The compromise in trying to enjoy such spectacles as delivered by TV can only lead to greatly diminished returns. 

Save the NBA from what it has allowed itself to become. Return self-respect, dignity and decency to the sport.

Fraternity responds to tragedy with brotherly love

“Frat boys” take a pounding, these days, often by those who decry profiling while profiling. 

The Delta Chi brothers of the University of Maryland could offer a convincing op-ed. In 2010, they lost a golf-loving brother Andrew Maciey to heart disease at 24. What to do in his memory? Hold a golf tournament, donate the meager proceeds to a heart hospital. They did. 

But why stop there? According to board members Dan Igo and David Stone (Class of 2008), Delta Chi went big, creating “The Round of A Lifetime” foundation, raising money to provide golfers of all abilities who have heart disabilities a chance to play America’s most famous courses, including Congressional and Pinehurst No. 2. 

The charity pays for it all — air fare, lodging meals, medical care and monitoring and has now financed 11 golf trips for heart patients, including a transplant recipient, from all over the country. 

Frat boys. Ugh. 

For more info:

Reader Ted Damieci has invited us into his Wayback Machine to study Rob Manfred’s “ghost runner” extra innings as performed by the 1962 Yankees: 

“Bottom of the 10th at Yankee Stadium, the real one (the one with fans seated in the good seats). 

“Manager Ralph Houk sends Hector Lopez to be the runner at second. Bobby Richardson bunts Lopez to third. Tony Kubek hits a sac fly to center. Game over. 

“Would you think the managers would practice these plays in spring training? Nah, the 2022 Yankees: Grip it and rip it.” 

Tim McCarver, longtime Mets then Yankees and Fox TV analyst, recently called it a career, retiring from his part-time gig as a Cardinals announcer at age 80. 

If there’s one thing McCarver did that will always stick in my head, it’s what he did for Ralph Kiner — and viewers of Mets telecasts — rejuvenating Kiner as a cherished presence in the booth. 

Tim McCarver in 1986
Tim McCarver in 1986
Getty Images

In 1982, for some inexplicable reason, the Mets hired Lorn Brown , who had called White Sox and Brewers games, to work telecasts on Ch. 9. Brown was a nice fella, but excruciatingly dull, often given to reciting players’ Pacific Coast League stats and just killing time. His soporiferous style also put Kiner to sleep — almost literally. The broadcasts were rated ZZZ. 

In 1983, when McCarver replaced Brown, Kiner, as if stirred from a deep slumber by a magic wand, began to perk up, again. Soon, the stories, the strategies and the laughter returned. From 1983-95 Kiner, who died in 2014 at 91, and McCarver became a terrific team. 

And that was all due to McCarver.

Betting sites know audience

A new TV ad for a sports book/casino boasts of a new online site that provides real-money casino gambling with just a touch of one’s cell phone. 

The commercial concludes with the sight of a young man smiling as he gazes into his cell phone. The man — kid — might be in his early 20s, but looks to be about 18. 

Regardless, that he looks like a vulnerable, dream-headed kid is no accident. These operations know what they’re doing, who to do it to, and why. 

Mock draft, anyone? Even before Tom Brady was chosen 199th in 2000, there were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of pro football draft experts. 

Daryle Lamonica, the “Mad Bomber,” two time AFL MVP and an absolute kick to watch who died last week at 80, in 1963 was the 168th pick in the NFL draft, the 188th in the AFL draft. 

And it wasn’t as if he was unknown to GMs and scouts. For three years he was mostly the starting QB for Notre Dame. They weren’t good teams — one finished 2-8 — but Lamonica wasn’t an unknown. 

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