Fans are supposed to be cursing out players for being greedy, owners for over-estimating their importance, and doing other things to display their frustrations with the lockout. Players are supposed to be on the front lines, owners are supposed to be visible in their stance, and David Stern is supposed to be putting fires out.
That is what’s supposed to be happening…but it’s not. It’s not happening, because even though we may not have the NBA, we still have basketball.
Let’s get something straight right now. The NBA is the premier basketball league, but at the essence of it all is the game of basketball, and if this lockout has shown you anything, it’s shown you that basketball can be played anywhere.
Over the summer, we saw one man take it upon himself to launch an unofficial world tour and it was all in the name of basketball. That player is Kevin Durant (shout-out to Justin Tinsley and his inspiring write-up about Durant and his exploits this off-season.) Durant did something that, as a lover of basketball, made me smile. Kevin Durant went everywhere to play.
Think about it; as youngsters in high school, or even as middle-aged folk, if you’ve played the game, you’ve inevitably packed a bag, got in the car and drove to the nearest gym in search of some good hoopin’. It wasn’t anything to brag about in regards to telling people all about it. You just get in the car and mob out.
After a few hours, you tell the folks you’ll see them next time, and you may find somewhere else to play the next day. Every time you get there, you see other players at the gym, all who love the game, and all with the intention of getting out there and playing the sport we all have in our hearts. At that moment, we’re united, together, and just…hoopin’.
Kevin Durant found a way to humanize basketball, at least in my eyes when it comes to professional players playing the game, by simply playing anywhere and everywhere all summer long and, to make it even better, word is he didn’t want publicity and didn't seek any special concessions; he simply wanted to be one of the fellas and play.
John Wall, James Harden, Brandon Jennings, and other youngsters were playing as well, but Kevin Durant, in my opinion, brought the essence of basketball to the surface this summer, and did so in a summer where the NBA is truly losing.
People don’t care if there’s no NBA; at least the fans I know don’t. What started off as a folk being genuinely concerned about the welfare of basketball next season has turned into folk becoming indifferent; that concern has taken a backseat. People aren’t really even talking about it right now. Shoot, as someone who loves the NBA, I don’t even care. Hell, the Dallas Mavericks won the world championship, and as far as I’m concerned, it just means they’ll hold onto it a little longer.
On top of that, it’s easy to not care whether there’s an NBA season next year, because if there’s one thing that youngsters like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Michael Beasley, and old heads like Jerry Stackhouse, ‘Sheeeeeeeeeed and countless other NBA players showed you over the last few months, it’s that even if there's no League Pass, no Inside the NBA, or any other NBA-affiliated outlets to watch the League, at the bare essence of it all, there’s still the game of basketball.
It’s the game we will always love, and no matter what the NBA decides to do, we’ve seen enough from some of its youngest stars and its old heads to know that the game will always be okay.