Friday, November 21, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Still Hate The NBA

I went to see Jesus this week.  To those of you not in the know, I am referring to Northeast Ohio’s Savior, LeBron James.  I attended the game on tickets purchased via corporate America, as I shudder to think what these tickets would have cost a normal human being that couldn’t use it as a tax write off.  I heard a rumor that tickets in the lower bowl cost $185 per.  If I paid $185 for a ticket, I would hope that one of the Cavs at the end of the bench would wash and wax my car.  God knows that they won’t be playing, so they may as well do something productive with their evening. 

These Cavs games are currently the See and Be Seen Event in town.  I would like to say how Cleveland has always been a great basketball town, but that would be a lie.  The town is only interested if the team is really good to insanely good.  I am not under the impression that most of the people in the arena even know all the rules of the game.  The only possibility to fill the building is to stack the deck like this new InstaContender team.  Last year when the team was awful, it was very difficult to find anyone to go to a Monday night game vs the Nuggets.  The team needed to give away bobbleheads or gypsy slave kids to trick people in the doors.  Now it is filled to the brim with suburban ladies in their special date jeans and their dorky white collar middle manager husbands.  A man needs to prove his value and worth to his female companion by the status of the tickets he has been able to secure.  I cannot imagine how many text messages fly around the arena with gloating or hung heads regarding seat locations.  “Oh, we are in 112 Row C.  Ron got the tickets.  OmiGod!  Susan!  You are all the way up in the club level!  That’s terrible.  What?  Oh… Oh… Who’s suite are you in?  Oh…” 

Let me make something perfectly clear.  No one is actually watching basketball.  The game is so secondary to the event, it hardly bears mentioning.  The Cavs have installed what might be the largest video screen on the planet above the court.  I think it is called The Enormotron or The MegaScreen or some such shit.  It is impossible not to look at it.  Like a moth to a flame, my eyes are drawn to watching the game on that TV.  Sure, the actual LeBron James is right in front of me, but I couldn’t help myself.  It was a constant struggle to make myself watch the actual game on the court instead of the game on the TV the size of a large government building. 

The most exciting event is the player introductions.  A movie plays on the screen.  A sound system that would make Black Sabbath weep bludgeons the skull with triumphant music.  Cavs players are introduced like conquering Gods until the crescendo is reached with LeBron.  I’m sorry.  We were mad at you? We LOVE you LeBron!  WE LOVE YOU!  Ka-Boom.  Flames shoot out of the scoreboard.  The houselights go up.  There is a sudden drop in excitement when the crowd collectively realizes that now they will have to actually sit through a November regular season game involving the Denver Nuggets.  I didn’t know a single person in their starting five.  Not one. 

I tried to have a good time and chat with the group of people I took to the game.  That is impossible.  Every second of the game is dominated by that monster sound system playing terrible club music and canned cheers.  It is as difficult to talk to someone two seats away as it would be at a construction site.  It is as if you walked into a really bad nightclub and a basketball game broke out.  This is called “game presentation” in the parlance of the industry. 

I might sound like the crabby old guy now.  I don’t give a fuck.  If I go through the hassle of attending a basketball game, I would like to actually watch the basketball with some relative focus.  The entire event is designed for someone with attention deficit disorder.  Sanitized “urban” beats fill every second.  It’s like if Disney wanted to show suburbanites their version of a visit to an idealized black inner city neighborhood.  The GigantiTron throws wave after wave of corny comedy and sponsored features.  The “Scream Team”, a bunch of young men with stage names like “Octavian” and “Chillex” dance around on the court like those bad breakdancing videotape ads from the 80s during one of the 17 time outs each quarter.  Young aerobic instructors shake their tits and asses in Cavs cheerleader outfits.  A guy in a dog mascot costume shoots t-shirts into the crowd with a variety of air cannons.  Another guy in a Cavalier outfit shoots an air cannon at the other end.  Video screens stream with constant ads all around the arena.  It’s all happening at the same time.  I have no fucking idea what is happening on the court.  I don’t even care.  It’s irrelevant.  The other bullshit is what I am being demanded to focus on. 

I had no idea the Cavs were down by 16 in the 3rd quarter until I figured out how to read the scoreboard.  I don’t know why they were down by so many as I absorbed almost none of the game and the TremendoTron blocked my view of the Cavs stats on one of the 43 video screens in the building.  I did see the “Kiss Cam” though and the Pittsburgh Steelers logo when I was supposed to boo an otherwise meaningless free throw attempt in the 4th quarter.  By the end of it, I was wrung out like I had stared at a strobe light for an hour.  I have no clue which particular player played well or poorly.  The Cavs lost big.  Double digits I think. 

People seemed to like it.  I don’t know if I am so out of touch with popular culture that I can’t recognize “fun” or if I am looking for the wrong thing at a Cavs game.  I was expecting basketball.  Instead I got (in the immortal words of David Foster Wallace) “a supposedly fun thing that I will never do again”.



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