Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The Miami Heat (And The Rest Of The NBA) Start Playing Tonight

It’s the definition of a soft opening. The Miami Heat is kicking off the NBA season tonight in Boston, versus the Celtics, instead of in “South Beach”, where the franchise’s love of towering flames would have made for great TV, and where three of the NBA’s ten best players could bask in the certain love of the home crowd.

But NBA schedule makers aren’t clueless. Having media outlets ripping a tasteless pyrotechnic display in a relatively tasteless city would start the Heat off on the wrong foot, and not be at all helpful in rebranding the team as less of a prefab Eastern Conference power and more of a Stand by Me minus the dead body.

I just can’t see it. People don't hate the Yankees because of who they are, but because of what they represent: gluttony and greed. The same brush bastes the Heat. Individually, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are likable enough, with talent to spare, but collectively, they’re a bully, at a time where we've finally all decided that bullies are the greatest menace facing this country.

The “David vs. Goliath” paradigm resonates because, unless someone is personally invested, he or she is predisposed to root for the underdog. The next time this Heat team will be considered an underdog is two days after never, no matter how confused and apologetic some of its players try to seem.

Regardless, the travelling circus begins tonight and, appropriately enough, it is already on the road. Reporters will hang on every word, scrutinize every missed shot, and attempt to identify broader themes in their columns while making regrettable snap judgments with their tweets. Gossip bloggers in each city will lurk outside of PF Chang’s hoping to get a glimpse of the players and their entourages. Bottle servers at clubs will be keeping an eye and ear out for evidence that young rich men are behaving like young rich men. And if a Kardashian is within 100 miles, there will be linkage.

The players had to know that it wasn’t going to be easy, upsetting the natural order of the league. Still, no one could’ve expected the critics to bang the drum so loudly as to drown out the cheers for what will be some really entertaining basketball. It remains to be seen if the level of vitriol and scrutiny can be maintained throughout the long season.

Either way, the tip-off’s at 7:30. Not sure if you’d heard that.

Tony Gervino is a New York City-based editor and writer obsessed with honing his bio to make him sound quirky. He can also be found here.

Photo by Xynn Tii, from Flickr.

12 Comments / Post A Comment

iantenna (#5,160)

at least this gluttony and greed is based in a city not named new york, los angeles, or boston.

david h. (#5,700)

Dwyane Wade is definitely Gordie Lachance.

pepper (#676)

82 games, for the privilege of losing to the Lakers in 6. If not the Magic in 5.

Bittersweet (#765)

Nope, to the Celts in 5. Who will then lose to the Lakers in 7.

(Bitter, party of one…)

keisertroll (#1,117)

Screw it. I'm picking the OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER to TULSA SHOCK the WORLD.

My one complaint about basketball is the length of the season: it seems to drag on and on. That is likely not a problem for diehard fans, of course, but for me, a casual fan, I tend to not care as much in the beginning or middle knowing that they are still going to be playing for another couple months. One interesting study compared variability in winning, going multiple years to try to minimize the random noise vs. actual talent. It found the time (number of games played) until you can statistically say half of the win% variability is random and half is true talent (which increases the more games played–i.e. signal to noise ratio gets better). For the NBA that is 13 games, or 16% of the season. In contrast, MLB is 67 (41%) and the NFL is 11 (71%). That isn't to say any one is better than another, just that a much shorter NBA season could likely separate the good and bad teams as effectively. As it is now good teams seem to coast and bad teams pack it in way too often.

Chris (#5,644)

I'm a big NBA fan, so I like it the way it is mostly, but I do kind of agree. 11 games is way too short though. I'd like it if it was like 30 games. Baseball should be two games. Because I hate it.

And on that note I say…


Yeah, those numbers aren't ideal season lengths, but they let you compare the different sports under similar circumstances. I don't think it is a perfect study, and there are lots of caveats, but it is certainly interesting that the NBA season "converges" so quickly [which the study author says is because there is a wider talent spread between teams, which, maybe? I don't follow all the teams enough to say]

gumplr (#66)

Do you have a link to the study? I am always looking for things to argue pointlessly about with my roommates during the season, and this fits the bill.

Also, the original Naismith rules are being auctioned off. They were left at a Hooters once!

Yeah, sorry, couldn't remember where I had seen it. Here's a recent take on it, with links to earlier research.

keisertroll (#1,117)

The playoffs alone are too fucking long. Hell, last year the Sixers were GIVING AWAY tickets on Twitter because they couldn't get people to see them get blown away by Orlando.

BRANDINGm3 (#8,238)

tony: why no mention of the lebron/nike ad? talk about timing! see this! http://wp.me/pIfvI-s0

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