Basketball_ Winning_Trueblue_Magazine_ Food For Thought

Basketball: Winning, Losing and Everything in Between

Put the All in Basketball

From the give-and-go to the pick-and-roll. From the beloved slam dunk to the practised alley-oop. As (the then lil’) Bow Wow song goes, “it’s basketball.” Yes, basketball–the game where ball meets basket and the crowd goes boom…boom…boom. “They’re playing basketball…all around the world.” And, “we love that basketball.”

As someone who enjoys watching basketball–but alas–is unable to execute a single decent move on the court to save her life, I can still say that I have a certain objective appreciation for this fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping sport. It seemed fitting to take a closer look at it–this game, this world of basketball–that has not just the Americas, but the whole world jumping through figurative hoops to get to their very much literal target hoops on either end of the court. Fitting, of course, because we currently find ourselves in the NBA’s post-season, where the crème of the crop flock, hoping that best of seven is what they clocked.

It makes sense that a game as loved as this sport in North America, would have originated here as well. It was a Canadian physician–Dr. James Naismith–who was working in Massachusetts at the time–1891–who came up with the idea behind basketball. Dr. Naismith had been looking to create something–an activity–that could be incorporated into physical education classes around the country. What started off as an empty beach basket hanging about ten feet above the ground in the late 19th century, has now become a celebrated sport in North America and world-wide. On the global scale, basketball falls second only to soccer, or football, as they–very logically; I might add–call it across the Atlantic.

I’d like to take a minute to commemorate the fallen–those who put their sweat, blood and tears into the freshman and sophomore rounds of playoff season and still fell short–the teams that weren’t able to advance. They fought the good fight, but their opponents were just better armed, so to speak. Specifically though, I’d like to recognize one team in particular that wasn’t able to make it to round two. Toronto’s team. My team. Now that some of us have had a minute to laugh and maybe crack a joke or two, I’ll continue.

The Toronto Raptors, whose newest advertisement campaign dubs them, “We the North”, broke off a six-year long drought, and finally managed to make it to the playoffs this year. They were first in their division–a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the 2006-2007 season–no less.

Alas, the odds were against them, kind of right from the start. The NBA is a basketball league, but let’s face it, it’s also a business. And as much as we’d like to think otherwise, money does indeed seem to make the world go round. And round. And round. It almost makes my head spin. So a team from Canada that consists of players who, sadly, aren’t in the same league as LeBron James or maybe Kevin Garnett–metaphorically speaking –well, how much do you think the NBA will profit off of them? Nowhere nearly as much as they’d like. That’s a fact. Just take a minute to think about it. Interestingly enough however, of all the teams that moved forward to the playoffs, Raptors post-season tickets, were the highest-priced in the entire NBA.

Cue the rule of supply-and-demand, and of course, capitalism at its best! Let me go ahead and say that these are simply my musings and that I do not put the loss of the Raptors on the NBA or anybody else for that matter. I am an insignificant little voice, trying my hand at playing devil’s advocate. I was merely looking to put things into perspective–shed some light on the situation, to allow us to better understand the underdog. The Raptors have come a long way, and have even farther to go. They have chemistry and skill, but experience and maturity–two skills that the Brooklyn Nets banked on in round one–need to be developed in Toronto’s repertoire.

Talent is talent–that’s undeniable, irrefutable, even. Brooklyn has a talented, veteran team, that I appreciate and respect, but did Toronto give them a run for their money? Did they keep Brooklyn on their toes? Absolutely, without a doubt. Game seven was a testament to just that, with Toronto making quite the comeback rather late in the game. Had that last shot, by Kyle Lowry, not have been blocked; it would have been a sad, sad ending for one of the NBA’s highest-valued teams. Although it would have been a great story in the making for those feel-good sports films that Hollywood churns out from time to time.

Come on, who doesn’t love those movies?

Who Am I Cheering for Now?

Well, the Heat beat the Nets–no shocked faces here; no contempt either, honestly. I will say this: Brooklyn has (had) a great line-up. But Miami’s LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade form the ultimate triumvirate. And great things come in threes, hadn’t you heard? But what do I know? Battles between unmatched opponents are interesting to watch, but battles between equal–or perhaps, near equal–rivals, now that’s when all the fun and nail-biting begins.

I’m looking forward to a stimulating rematch in the finals, but there is still a hole in my heart–in the shape of a little dinosaur–for my team. The team that could. The team that would. The team that almost did. A-L-M-O-S-T being a difference of only one point in the ultimate game. Regrettably, in life, ‘almost’ never really cuts it. But hey, no harm no foul, right?

Next year they’ll be back, faster, stronger and more driven than the Terminator ever was–a very well-oiled machine. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’re going, the colour of your skin or that of your eyes–though, height wise, it helps if you’re teetering somewhere near seven feet, but wait, how tall was Iverson again? Basketball is a game for all. I mean, take out the ‘all’ from basketball and what are you left with? A word that isn’t basketball. If continuous and consistent athletic activities teach us anything, it’s discipline and respect. And discipline and respect are things that the world as a whole is lacking. So if it’s a pickup game a few times a week after school or work or another sport altogether, what are you going to lose?

Sports require dedication and dedication builds character. Character is good. With that being said, thanks for sticking with me. And feel free to stick it to me.

The ball’s in your court now.

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