This is what the NBA has become: A place where shoes can be tied mid-game.

In case you never heard about the story or saw the YouTube video, Raptors guard Jarrett Jack stopped to tie his shoes while holding the ball in the third quarter of a game against the Bulls a week or so ago. Just a few feet away, his defender, Luol Deng, did nothing. Eight seconds went by.

If this was old-school NBA, Jack would have been the player wondering where his jockstrap and the ball went. He’d be standing there in disgust at his own stupidity while Deng dribbled downcourt and slammed the ball through the net – to pull the Bulls to within 25 points of the Raptors (hey, the Bulls are bad). Instead, it was Deng and the Bulls who were the fools.

When it comes to basketball, I’d rather watch Wichita State take on Cornell than the Denver Nuggets host …. who? The Oklahoma City Thunder?

The NBA’s catchphrase is “Where Amazing Happens,” which is true because it’s amazing we can stay awake for an entire game.

This is what the NBA has become: a cure for insomnia.

All I’m asking is to bring the ball up the court faster, provide intense, non-stop defense, distribute the ball more, run more plays, and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played – full court. So much of the NBA now is a half-court game where the point guard brings the ball up and waits for everyone to get set, then the team runs a slow and methodical play before tossing up a three-pointer.

Unless, of course, it’s the final seconds of a close game. Then excitement reigns. But with Attention Deficit Syndrome and Xbox 360 these days, it’s impossible to endure the banality of a 2 1/2-hour game before we’re shocked back to life with a Lebron James buzzer-beating jumper. I get incensed when I see an offense spread out, waiting for their top player to make his move. It’s fascism.

CBS Sportsline reported last week that attendance at NBA games is down 3.7 percent. The NBA itself is aware of the slowly dissipating interest. Commissioner David Stern recently answered a Sports Illustrated reporter’s question about the possibility of a female playing in the league some day with, “Sure. I think that’s well within the range of probability.” Stern went on to add, “I think we could see it in the next decade or so.” The NBA owns, of course, the WNBA, a women’s league where interest must also be waning if Stern is receptive to females playing in the all-men’s league.

I don’t want to say this sounds desperate for fear that my wife, my daughters, my sister and my mother may use me as a human punching bag, but Stern talking about such a possibility right now sounds like change is needed to restore the NBA to its glory.

I’m all for adding females to the NBA if it means speeding up the game and leads to more of a team effort.

This is what the NBA needs to become: worth it.


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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...