By Jeff Girod
That’s the new mandate from the National Basketball Association, who recently ordered that tipoff of each game must start 90 seconds after players are announced.
That means say goodbye to all the pregame rituals, belly rubs, toe taps, head rubs, fist bumps, elbow pounds, patty cakes, secret society handshakes and double-dutch jump roping that usually takes longer to finish than the actual game.
Think of all the extra time it will save for eye pokes and groin pulling!
Then again, there are worse things to could criticize NBA stars for than pre-game celebrations—DUI, rape, tiny short shorts. And would you rather see your NBA players goofing off before games… or Lebron James making like Shaquille O’Neal and shooting another movie air ball like Kazaam?
What’s wrong with anyone wanting to add pizzazz to the drudgery of work? We should all be so inspired.
I wish there was a little more creativity in the rest of my life. I’d like to see my UPS driver jump out of a cake, or see my dentist skydive into my next teeth cleaning. Or the next time a grocery checker and bag boy ring up my order maybe they could reenact all the fight scenes from Rocky I, III and IV.
I grew as part of the original MTV generation (the one with actual music videos, not the reality show The Hills). And if the greatest musical video of all time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” can hold an audience’s rapt attention for 13 minutes and 43 seconds, then that’s how long NBA players should be permitted to moonwalk, twirl and zombie stumble before tipoff.
There are 82 games in an NBA season, from November to the end of May, not counting preseason or playoffs. And sure, everyone wants to see the Miami Heat battle the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. But nobody wants to watch Charlotte play Milwaukee to a 107-101 snoozer on some Tuesday in March—not even people in Milwaukee.
Plus basketball is the only sport where games routinely feature final scores in the 100s. And the only contest I want to see with a score with two zeros after it used to be hosted by Bob Barker and features a Showcase Showdown.
The games and season are long—too long—so even players get bored. It’s also a game played mostly by kids. (The average age of an NBA player is 26 years old). And if I was a 26-year-old famous millionaire who got to wear shorts to work every day on TV, I probably would have a hard time not dancing constantly, too.
So cut NBA players some slack. Maybe they don’t always act like seven-foot sweat-banded robots, one size 22 high top marching in front of the other. Maybe on the 62nd night in a row in Memphis or Portland or New Jersey, they’d rather get to their starting position by re-enacting the lightsaber scene from Star Wars.
If Lebron and Kobe and Durant want to spend as much time on their choreography as they do on their free throws and jump shots, I say throw in a little Jell-O with that jiggle. Go ahead, give the crowd a rump shakalaka and get your freak on.
Unbridled excitement and joy are fleeting. And as long as it doesn’t come at someone else’s expense, we should cultivate enthusiasm wherever we can get it.
Everyone always complains that life is too boring. Then something comes along that’s new or different and instead of embracing it, we criticize. We try to regulate it away because the very fact that it’s something we haven’t seen before makes us uncomfortable.
If you truly believe NBA players take too long to prepare for a basketball game, don’t watch. If you think NFL players shouldn’t celebrate after a touchdown or a big tackle, turn off your TV and join a book-of-the-month club.
Then, when you finish your book for the month, gently place the book on a side table. But for god’s sake, whatever you do, don’t celebrate your accomplishment with a finger dangle, chicken dance or ankle wag.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.