Fans Mourn the Death of NBA Fundamentals
By: Emilio Escobar
February 1, 2003. What do you remember of this
day? Some say they will remember that cool breeze in the afternoon
while they played pick-up hoops in the backyard. Or they are still
reeling from the State of the Union address by President George
W. Bush. But no, folks. The one thing people will remember most
of all from this will be, and always will be, the death of basketball
fundamentals in the NBA.
"I really do not know what to say" stated
Boston center Tony Battie. "We held this little ceremony before
the game began, in tribute to this great tragedy. Our hearts go
out to George Mikan and those others who founded this great game
of basketball." Others stated their views on the tragedy as
well, including Frank Supovicz. "We reacted with great sadness,"
said Supovicz, an event planner for the NHL. "We eliminated
a fair amount of the opening (to the NHL All-Star game), out of
respect to the tragedy." What a tragedy, indeed.
Tony Battie during a moment of
silence before the Boston-Indiana game on Saturday.
While the crowd was still silent, the loud commands
to the traditionalists resonated through the half-empty arena. The
national anthem was then performed without any musical accompaniment
by country singer Allan Jackson. "I just saw that there was
another national tragedy, and I thought to myself, 'self, our record
sales haven't been doing so well. We need a new gimmick' and that's
when I decided to take advantage of yet another tragedy. By the
way, my new record is in the lobby."
Fans all across the country mourned at the very
site of the lost art of dribbling a ball without palming it. Or
even a 16-foot pull-up jump shot on a fast break instead of mowing
down a defender in the paint en route to an offensive foul. A moment
of silence was observed at NBA and college arenas all around the
country -- Storrs, Conn., Omaha, Neb., South Bend, Ind., Louisville,
Ky., Austin, Texas, and Indianapolis. Before the start of the men's
game between Kentucky and host South Carolina, a prayer was said
and a moment of silence was observed as a picture of former Boston
Celtic Bill Sharman shooting an 18-foot jump shot was displayed..
The NBA longs for the days of
Bill Sharman and his crisp jump shooting while his teammate Bob
Cousy would pass the ball without an offensive foul being committed
under the basket.
"Today we must remember the terrible tragedy
that took place this morning," Dr. Hal Marchman, a retired
Baptist minister, said during his invocation before the Rolex 24
endurance car race at Daytona International Speedway. "What
I witnessed today, I will tell my grandchildren about for years
to come. I am still in shock at what happened earlier today. I can
remember the days without a physical foul or when a player made
a backdoor cut to the basket. This is a terrible tragedy, and certainly
sets both our country and our sport back at least 10 years."
Scattered debris found at the site
of where NBA fundamentals were last seen.
Bob Bender, a 39-year-old fan from Columbia, Mo.,
said he and his wife and two sons nearly stayed home from the Colorado-Missouri
men's game before deciding to attend. "We thought that maybe
we should show our respect by staying home, but we all have to go
on with our lives," Bender said.
NBA players have paid their respects in different
ways. Rasheed Wallace has agreed to postpone his threatening of
referee's lives for the day, Ruben Patterson said he will not rape
anyone, and Shaquille O'Neal reportedly has said he will not mention
Pepsi for the entire 24-hour period. Doug Christie, however, will
still raise his arm after every insignificant basketball play he
stumbles into while on the court. "I feel it is my duty to
shove my sickening love upon the entire nation during this monumental
tragedy" said Christie.
CBS delayed the beginning of its televised coverage
of the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament in La Quinta, Calif., for
about an hour. "The entire PGA Tour family grieves for today's
tragic loss of the NBA and it's fundamentals," Tour commissioner
Tim Finchem said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers
are with the countless family and friends of the NBA and we are
Bob Bender pays his respects by
giving the NBA a "thumbs up" and reminds us to "never
forget" the events of this historic day in NBA history.
Emilio Escobar is a contributing editor
He can be reached at [email protected]