Trick or Treat, League?
I spend a lot of time each year trying to decide what I’m going to be for Halloween. I usually end up not being anything, just because I refuse to spend a lot of money on that sort of thing. Nothing against the folks who go all out on that day, but it’s just not in my budget. I got bills to pay. I’m a struggling student. I can’t go drop fifty dollars on a cheap-looking Burger King mask that looks like it was made by pre-teens in a Cambodian sweatshop. Because that’s what I wanted to be last year. A friend of mine had the brilliant idea of being Jack from the Jack in the Box commercials. I thought it was a great idea, but didn’t know how much it would cost, if it would be available for purchase, or how to construct that sort of thing without it looking like crap. So I’m sure I’ll wait until the last minute and come up with something cheesy like I always do. But I know what I won’t get to be on Halloween night, a week or so before it even arrives.
A basketball fan.
Perhaps I’m the only person who finds this to be an issue, but I think it’s pure and total idiocy to tip off the NBA season on October 31st. I guess the scheduling wizards for the league don’t have kids that want to go trick or treating and receive possibly poisoned Pixie Stix. Granted, I don’t have children of my own either, but I do like to go out and have a good time on Halloween. No, I’m not going door to door asking for candy these days. Even if I wanted to, I’m a bit too old and definitely too large for such an endeavor. I do go out to downtown Austin and walk around with the crazies, seeing who I can see and interacting with all the other adults who are older in age but still young at heart. It makes for good pictures, great stories, and an overall phenomenal time.
The only problem with it all is that I’m away from the television for a good chunk of the night. And television is where the magic happens. If you haven’t been paying attention, TNT will have a double header that night. The first game is Chicago-Miami; the next is Phoenix-Lakers. There are so many story lines available in both of those games, the most obvious of which is that they are rematches from last year’s playoffs, but I’ll either have to miss out on them and catch a highlight show or stay home and act like an adult on the only night where childish behavior is viewed as acceptable instead of immature.
Don’t get me wrong, I have to make tougher sacrifices all the time. It’s not as if this decision has any real ramification in the grand scheme of things. It’s that fact that I shouldn’t have to choose between those two things. I’ll have six whole months of basketball to wallow in, even if I miss Opening Night. But it’s Opening Night! I’ve been waiting for this day since Dwyane Wade shot his 231st free throws of the Finals. It’s the symbolic meaning of the whole thing. Thinking about Opening Night was what got me through the doldrums of the summer, through the whole World Championship debacle, through the absurdities of a sport where two men play keep away from a guy with a stick, through the farce that is the NBA preseason. All of this time, it has been the one thing that has kept me going, the thing that made it okay to suffer through another hoopless day because I knew that on the horizon was the Holy Grail, the object of my obsession.
If I could have a sit-down with David Stern, I’d ask him why. Why do I have to make this choice? Couldn’t the season have been moved forward or backward one day? Would it have killed you guys? I’d also ask him why he’s insistent on using a ball that’s about as well-liked around the league as jack-o-lanterns (but that’s a different subject for a different day). As I said before, I know I am one person of millions that watch basketball, perhaps one of maybe a hundred (a very generous estimate) who wish that these two dates were not one and the same. I know that my opinion isn’t that important overall. The league is about dollars and cents and I’m sure that the choice of days is no different. But I’ll still be here pouting about it. Just because I can. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a way to do both things and it’ll be the most fantastic thing I’ve ever experienced. Or I’ll just miss out on one and get to hear about it from some other source, wishing I had found a way to be a part of the fun.
Trick or treat, indeed.