Pro Basketball Games in Foreign Places, Part One
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 22, 2007
Wang Zhizhi, clippers.topbuzz.com
I recently got the DVR system from Comcast just so I’d never have to miss another game or program (even something like Showtime’s debut tonight of Ira Glass’s “This American Life”). Ellen, who set it up (who always sets these things up) said we seemed all-of-a-sudden to have more channels, a lot more channels. So, it was my duty this morning at 9:30am to investigate. All-in-one remote in hand, my search quickly ground to a halt at Channel 257, where, of all things, I came upon NBA Live. (Are we paying extra for this?) What was showing on NBA Live? The Chinese Basketball Association championship series between the Guangdong Tigers and the Bayi Army Rockets. What a beautiful morning, what a start to the day! The definition of must-see-hoops, I say. I was drawn to it in part because The Boston Globe mentioned the other day that Danny Ainge was there scouting players. So, where was Yi Jianlian and how good is he? (Projected top ten pick.)
I was feeling for Danny, scouting can be tough, you have to do a lot of imagining, projecting; there’s a lot going on out there. How will the player mature physically? How will he (or she) play in a particular system (your system)? How about when the competition is tougher, much tougher than the game he’s playing in? What are the weaknesses in his game and what are the prospects for improvement?
Added to that are the other distractions that can make it difficult to focus, to actually scout and do what you are there to do. For instance, you look at the coach of Guangdong and he’s wearing a beret. You are Danny Ainge, you are jetlagged, your team is going nowhere this year, your mind wanders: would Doc look better in a black beret or classic french, how about army green? I mean, Red had his cigar. Then there’s the distraction of two public address announcers, one for each team, leading cheers with the microphone! Shouting in Chinese. Rhythmic, joyful, it’s stand-up singing for your team! NBA exec or not, BYU be damned, Danny’s gotta find it hard not to join in. And the cheerleaders, those earnest broad-faced, well-scrubbed girls in their native dress, looking like they’re greeting a president coming off a plane. There were six million of them crammed onto the floor during time-outs.
The game announcers, though, were priceless. I began to suspect they were in studio (or someone’s basement) rather than there in person when one, the analyst (I’m sorry to say), said, “how much time would you say is left”? And the color commentator replied, not-so-authoritatively, “oh, maybe a little less than four minutes”.
Bayi Army Rockets trailed by 20 at one point but came back behind former (and probably future) NBAer, Wang Zhizhi, to top the Guangdong Tigers and prodigy, Yi Jianlian, 88-83. “The Tigers are down four with four seconds left. Do you think they can do it?” “Um, uh, I don’t know. Probably not.”
NBA Live. I love this channel!