I Wish I Never Met Her At All....................................

“I met this girl when I was 10 years old, and what I loved most, she had so much soul.  She was old school when I was just a shorty, never knew throughout my life she would be there for me…….”

I still remember the first NBA game I ever fully watched on T.V.  We had just moved into the apartment building that we would go on to call home for the next ten years or so, and for the first time in ages we could actually have cable.  Now in the early 90’s cable was pretty much a standard for every household, but believe me, for my mom and I, this was actually a real big thing.  Now I had watched bits and pieces of games here and there before, and I was usually at an aunt or uncle’s house or maybe a friends place for important playoff games, but this particular day was different.  It was 1991 (so I was in fact 13, not 10) and it was the season opener for the Orlando Magic against the New York Knicks. The Magic went on to win that game, and although I don’t remember how or what exactly went on, I do vividly remember the action.  This wasn’t any incarnation of a Magic team that gets remembered by the way.   It was a year before Shaq and two years before Penny, and the team fielded players that although would go on to have decent careers they were hardly the kind of guys you would tune in JUST to watch.  I remember Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, I remember of course Scott Skiles and although he never really went on to do anything important in the league, for some reason I remember Anthony Bowie, but perhaps maybe just because of the name alone.  I was glued to that T.V. not only for the entire game, but for the rest of the season as well, and the Orlando Magic inheritably became my team, not because I had any affiliation with them, but because it seemed that that was the team my service provider always broadcasted on T.V.  I started looking forward to Saturday morning’s edition of “Inside Stuff” with Ahmad Rashad and Willow Bay, and my interest, along with my knowledge and appreciation grew in leaps and bounds with every passing episode.  By the next season, although the Orlando Magic drafted Shaq, who would become, stay and quite possibly be forever known as “my all-time favorite player”, I had experienced enough to follow other teams as well.  I witnessed Mike doing stuff only Mike could do.  My jaw dropped when Magic admitted he “had it”, and I found my first ever bona fide role model in one Larry Bird. It’s no secret that baseball is my one true love in this world, but if baseball is my wife; than basketball is my mistress, and I’m pretty sure every knows the difference.
The memories?  Oh my friends do I have memories.  Enough memories for three lifetimes in fact.  Barkley pulling up for three against the Bulls in the playoffs, Clyde Gliding through the lane, K.J. throwing down on Ewing, Pip throwing down on Ewing, Penny throwing down on Ewing (oh the tribulations of a backup defender). What about “His Airness”? Changing hands, fading away, ball fake after ball fake after ball fake, and yes even throwing down on Ewing.  Some of the things “Money” did with a basketball defied some of the basic laws of physics, and he did them easily, and what’s more baffling, regularly.  How somebody could ever compare anyone to Michael Jordan obviously did not see the man play.  The memories of NBA basketball throughout the 90’s are like scars in my mind, faded as they become they will always be there.  If I had to pick my top three moments, I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  When I got my first VCR at the age of 15, I got it for two reasons, 1; I found a convenience store around the way that would sell me Asian porn when I was clearly underage, and 2; to record the entire NBA’s triple header on NBC every Sunday when I was at work at the gas station.  I couldn’t wait to get home and watch it.  Remember the theme music?  In case you don’t here you go.  I wouldn’t even tape over them, I would buy a new blank tape every week and had quite a collection.  It broke my heart when, during my separation I had to make the decision that after almost 20 years of lugging all these tapes around move after move it was finally time to throw them away.  Marv Albert, Bob Costa and the rest of the NBC crew were like family to me and oh did I ever look forward to Sunday dinner.  The next decade or so was pretty much scheduled around the NBA.  “I’ll meet you after the game” or “I can’t because so and so are playing against whoever tonight” became staples in my vocabulary.  I even had one girlfriend that would use basketball to get me to come over.  She would call me up and say “the Raptors are playing the Lakers tonight, and my parents are out, want to come over and watch it?”  It was her equivalent to the infamous “want to come over and watch a movie?” routine that I, like so many before and after me, had come to master in my time.  And it worked for her too, she got hers, and I got to watch the game, so we both won.  Slam magazine would eventually go on to replace the Source as my preferred magazine of choice, and like most I had a routine with my new copy that was steadfast.  First I had to check out the “SlamADaMonth”, then right to the “trash talk” segment, flip to the back page and check out the “punks” and then start at the beginning and go page by page reading, devouring, storing everything away, so I had plenty to talk about when we hit the courts ourselves that week.  Basketball was life for me, and if it wasn’t for the NBA in the early 90’s it probably wouldn’t have been.

But then something happened.  Something changed.  And it wasn’t on my end either.  Slight rule changes here and there started to pile up year after year, and my game, the game I loved and lived for started evolving.  Those that know me know that I don’t believe change to be a good thing, ever, and this was no exception.  After a couple of years of tweaking and adjusting to “improve the way the game is played”, I would say conservatively that 80% of the body contact in the NBA was removed.  You couldn’t even touch someone driving through the lane without those annoying whistles blaring.  Off the ball fouls and offensive fouls were becoming more and more prevalent not with each passing season, but seemingly with each passing game.  The shit just got weak, and it got weak fast.  The domino effect to this of course was that players, who for the record mostly comprised of inner city disadvantaged youth that fought for their lives every damn day on basketball courts around the country in projects we wouldn’t really want to be caught dead in after dark, started to get soft.  Started crying about everything.  Looking to the refs to bail them out.  We had a rule when I was young, if you were still standing, it wasn’t a foul, and it shouldn’t matter anyways, because foul or no foul, you should have made the shot regardless.  That mentality was lost, and the game switched from being hard and blue collar to being more preppy and lame.  But love is love, and just because jump shots and free throws took precedence over hardcore in your face dunks, doesn’t mean you turn your back and walk away.   Besides, there were still a few players that were strong enough and explosive enough to wow you out of your seat every now and again, and to be honest with you, those players combined with sharp shooters behind the arc really had an effect on scoring.  Games totaling 210-225 points were the norm now, which I suppose was the point, and that’s kind of fun, right? Even if you had to sacrifice testicles and bravado to get it, it did become exciting.  The Kobe’s the Dirks, the Pierce’s, the J Will’s, all these guys helped ease me into this transitive way of basketball, and as much as I hated to see the hardcore shit go, I kind of enjoyed the run and gun fast tempo way of play.
But change is like evolution, it doesn't stop.  And the change that started taking place around the turn of the decade has spawned so far out of control, even I have a hard time defending it now.  I knew in 2004 that class of rookies was going to be trouble.  I never liked that Lebron kid from the fucking jump off.  Maybe it was the comparisons to Mike (please) or the “next best thing” moniker that I have seen bandied around way too much in my lifetime.  Hell, maybe I’m just a hater.  Who gives a shit what the reasons are, but I knew from the first time he “graced” the cover of my slam magazine that he was going to be trouble.  I just had no idea to what degree.  Now you and I have talked extensively about “the Decision” and it’s no secret what my thoughts were/are on that debacle.  But look at the landscape that has dramatically changed over the last few seasons as fall out from it.  The Carmelo Anthony saga, the Chirs Paul/Lakers shit, the lock out.  Deron Williams running a legend in Jerry Sloan out of Utah only to be traded shortly after.  The Dwight Howard bullshit.  I could list example after example of situations like this, but nothing could compare to what took place a few days ago.  A free agent signing so despicable I can hardly even bring myself to mention it.  “Ray Allen signs with the Miami Heat.”  What the fuck????  This was a man that for years now has been a Lebron killer.  Remember game 5 in the Conference Finals a few years back, when Lebron ripped off his Cavs jersey half way between the court and his fishing boat?  That was all Ray Allen.  He had only been a Celtic for 5 seasons, but he bleeds green.  Got himself a ring there too, and I think he could have gotten another one.  A man of Ray Allen’s pedigree shouldn’t even want to be in the same uniform with the likes of Bosh and James.  The man played Jesus Shuttleworth for fuck sakes.  He was on the short list of Brad’s top ten players of all time.  Ray Allen was the shit, but now even he’s jumped ship.   I’m sure you all know this by now, but there are two things I fucking hate in this world, having sex with women who aren’t on birth control and sell outs.  And it seems with every off season a new bunch of guys that you thought were full of class and dignity are trading in their jeans for suits and their boxers for panties.  Hell, I don’t even know what to do at this point, and to be honest, I don’t really care either.  But I do know I can’t take much more of this shit.  My mistress has played games before, she’s even lied to me a time or two.  I know she was unfaithful, but hell, I’m not a saint either, so I let a lot of stuff slide.  But Ray Allen doing his best Benedict Arnold impression and running straight to the enemy is too much for even me to tolerate.  I fucking hate you NBA, you lying cheating dirty whore.  Go fuck yourself.  I’m glad I threw all those tapes out, and I really wish I had’ve had something better to do that night in November back when I was only 13. 

I wish I never fucking met you at all………………