The NBA is more than National BA. It’s an International one. An not just the players, but the people who watch it, love it, live for it.
I don’t want to sound like a racist, but my first impression of the NBA were the African Americans. I have never seen so many black people in one place before the Finals 1994. It was really strange to me because the only blacks I have seen, were the soldiers from UN troops, who tried to keep the Balkan situation under control in the 1990’s.
But the game they were playing – that was not basketball. That was pure art.
I have never seen an excitement like that. I was a kid, knew nothing more than wars, crisis, marbles and bagging for coins for video games. But one day, I saw the “greens” on the court, jumping around like fools, and it was fantastic display of atleticism, talent and showmanship. My dad then switched the channel to watch some news about the war in Bosnia.. but the impression of those “greens” remained.
A year after that, I was already seven, and I learned that the “greens” were the Sonics, and that the most leathal fool who jumped round the court was Shawn Kemp, known as the Reignman. But here in Macedonia, there was a misunderstanding and everybody called him the RAINman. That’s why in my drowings from those days there is a human-like creature, hanging on a rim, in the middle of a heavy rain, storm, thunders, clouds and sometimes he carried an umbrella.
Man, those years were about a fever spreading through the youth. I think, that in the period from 1994 to 1996, in my neighbourhood, everybody started watching NBA, including girls, mature people and even my grandma. She adored Hakeem Olajuwon because she once heard that he had a degree from college. I tried to explain her that almost every one of the players had a degree from college, but she remained a Hakeem fan.
All the playgrounds became basketball courts, and buying an orange ball was the priority for every one of us. Many basketball clubs appeared and many kids tried to start a career. I was among them, but my career had ended last year due to a terrible ankle injury.
But, that’s another story. Let me get back on the main one.
I remember, there were some treditions about the basketball. The Friday night was reserved for watching the NBA Action, and those who had VCRs were recording the top 10 plays on the week. Then, the whole “gang” of young ballers visited the guy who had the tape, and after watching it for a few times, the night was spent in dunking and making exibitions on an improvised basket a door or wall or a tree outside.
The Sunday was a “game-day”. In the afternoon, there was a game on TV, usually a redifusion. It was an obligation to know the players, facts and even the boxscore by heart. There were fights about the field goal percentage, wheather Anthony Peeler had 30% or 40% from the trey, although nobody knew what the hell percentage is.
And the poster-mania was a kind of phenomenon. Many magazines appeared, and they were pretty expensive. But, having Kemp on my wall was a must, and one day, I decided to give all my good-marks-prize money for just one magazine. I was the happiest kid on the planet. Kemp was RAINing in my room!
You can see that NBA meant more than a game for sure. Crying in the ’96 finals and a sudden change of heart when Shaq goes West and a Jordan-compared player joins him in the Lakers...
In the years after, we became more involved in the NBA. There were more games on TV, and for the live games, we had to go to bed in 7, to get up in 3, and then go to school in 7 am. Sick!
Nowadays, the web and the cable TV provide us a whole new aspect of being into the NBA. But the feeling is the same. Watching a game in 4 am, watching all those recorded games.. I love it for real.