Breaking up, making up with the NBA

Growing up in Lawrence, Kansas, I didn’t have much use for the NBA.

Two reasons stand out. One, when you live in the past, current and future home of college basketball royalty, professional basketball doesn’t hold as much allure. And though Kansas had some good teams as I was growing up, there weren’t many former Jayhawks in the NBA. Danny Manning was about the only one we could look to, and his professional career was shortened by injuries.

The second reason is that the NBA was under a de facto ban in the Koester house anyway. We watched a lot of college basketball, but if someone, probably by accident, switched to a channel showing an NBA game, you could count on my dad to launch into The Speech: “I hate the NBA. There’s no defense. I’m supposed to enjoy watching people run up and down the court shooting every 5 seconds?”

The Morris twins, Markieff (left) and Marcus, were fun to watch at Kansas, now fun to watch in the NBA. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky, Azcentral Sports)

The Morris twins, Markieff (left) and Marcus, were fun to watch at Kansas, now fun to watch in the NBA. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky, Azcentral Sports)

(Related rant: Which makes the new rules in college ball this season even more infuriating. They’ve pretty much made it illegal to play defense in college. To get a charge call against your opponent this season, you not only have to have your feet set, you must send a certified letter dictating the GPS coordinates of where you are standing and then don’t lean or raise your hands to attempt to block the shot.)

But when I moved to Oregon and started spending my mornings playing volleyball at the Salem YMCA, I was surrounded by a community of NBA fans. It was fun each day hearing people talking about the previous night’s games. Then I attended a few Portland Trailblazers games and was hooked. So hooked that when I moved to San Diego a few years later, I actually paid for the NBA package for a year to keep watching the Trailblazers.

But there is no NBA team in San Diego, and it eventually fell out of favor. I suddenly had the Chargers to root for, so I jumped headfirst into that. (It didn’t hurt that many of the San Diego Chargers cheerleaders lived at our apartment complex and often worked out there together. My wife could always tell when they were jogging on the path that went past our apartment when I would be standing at the window pretending to bird watch.)

Moving to El Paso did nothing to keep me interested in the NBA, of course. I haven’t found anybody to converse with about it. Now, when I want to talk about the NBA, I actually have to call Lawrence, where many of my friends follow it more closely now that there are so many former Jayhawks playing professionally.

Last year, during a trip to L.A., I attended a Clippers game and got into the scene again, checking highlights each night on NBA.com. But I can feel the magic slipping away again this season. I’ve watched a bit of the Clippers on TV, but have yet to watch a Trailblazers game. I’m back to watching college ball, spending the game yelling about the new rules.

Where is this post heading? A cry for help, I guess. Any NBA fans out there in El Paso?

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