Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Your NBA Franchise, About To Blow

There’s a lot going on for the sports fan in the fall. Football, hockey, basketball; it could be a full-time job keeping up with it all as a fan, but before you get too excited, let me remind you what you already know - sports rank pretty low in life’s priorities.

We should be seeking out meaningful conversations with our significant others, getting ourselves some exercise, and especially this fall, we should have been following our county commissioners’ races or researching the independent candidate for city park board (Go, park board candidate, go!).

But conversations aren't meant to have winners and losers, the treadmill is a worthy but boring adversary, and a political horse race is not an actual horse race, no matter how mind-blowing the graphics are on television. The juice of real competition just isn't there.

For some of us, we need a game. I've spent a significant amount of my life either playing or watching basketball, and probably logged more hours on the courts playing pick-up in college than I spent earning my degree. I graduated, so I figure no harm, no foul. But back to low priorities.

I know some people love their pro teams so much they throw batteries at opposing players when they attend games, but these leagues, these teams, and these players are not even close to inspiring that kind of loyalty these days. Save your Duracells, people.

Case in point: Four NBA players recently had an altercation at a night club that ended in someone trying to drive over one of the players, and said player pulling out his gun and firing it in the air. These sorts of things have happened before, and everyone shakes their heads and bemoans the coddled pro athlete, but three weeks and a Time magazine cover later, everything is back to normal.

One little sentence at the end of an article I read about this really got to me though – of the four players involved, three were either carrying guns or had guns in their cars. Let me repeat that. THREE OF FOUR HAD GUNS. These physical specimens, these millionaires, these men who never ever carry their own luggage were carrying guns!

Now, I don’t want to even get into the socio-economic, psycho-social, or geo-political reasons why pro athletes think they need to be armed for a night on the town. I do want to talk about simple math. There are 15 guys on each NBA roster, and 30 NBA teams. That’s 450 guys. If our three of four ratio holds, could 338 of them be packing heat on a regular basis?

It looks like that’s actually happening to some extent. In a recent Star Tribune article, the T-Wolves Mark Madsen said there were quite a few players he knew who had carried guns. This is the NBA, the same league that made the Washington Bullets franchise change their name because it was too violent.

Has it occurred to anybody to work some anti-gun clauses into those multi-million dollar contracts? Many teams won’t let players drive snowmobiles or motorcycles because it would put their investment (the player) at risk. Call me cautious, but isn’t it risky to the league if a player shoots someone?

So, we already knew before that NBA guys like to go out partying, and we now know that many NBA guys possibly carry guns. The club-going public needs to know we’re due for a gun battle of OK Corral proportions at a night club in an NBA town near you. I’m surprised we haven’t seen it already. Party people everywhere have now been warned.

If you’re in an NBA city, know your team’s home schedule. The new season began November 1. On those game nights, those who drink and dance should stay in and find something less dangerous to do, like starting a fight with your sweetie, about politics, while exercising on the treadmill, which is set on SPRINT. Now that’s competitive!

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