Love it or hate it, the NBA is back.
The players and the owners have agreed to a 66-game schedule beginning in December, meaning that the sport you either actively love to complain about, or -- if you're really eccentric -- enjoy, will soon be returning. The NBA is by far the most polarizing sport in the country. It's almost impossible to be indifferent towards it. Fans of pro basketball can consume copious amounts of it, watching it day after day, tuning in to TNT and ESPN and ABC and NBA TV. And the people who don't like it bitch about it relentlessly, saying that the players are greedy, that the games don't matter, that the season is too long, that the players don't try until the final five minutes, and so on. Half the fantasy basketball articles I've written for Fake Teams have had this in the comments section: "Does anyone actually care about the NBA?"
It's bizarre. The NBA is basically the only sports league that isn't constantly propped up by its fans as the WORLD'S GREATEST SPORT. Baseball fans love to talk about how perfect the game is, and how it's the national pastime. NFL fans trumpet that it's the most popular league. Even soccer fans swoon that their boring-ass kicking exhibition is "the beautiful game." And yet, you never hear any of that from basketball fans. Even though the NBA has supplanted Major League Baseball as the second-most popular team sports league, you never hear any basketball analyst ramble on with comments like, "And that's why basketball is the greatest sport in the world."
And yet, the sport with the seemingly fewest amount of pretension is the one everyone loves to attack. If you don't love the NBA, you can probably rattle off ten reasons why David Stern is Lucifer, and LeBron James is Stalin, and Brian Scalabrine is the antichrist. I'm reasonably confident that half the people reading this FakeTeams article are saying to themselves, "Go away! We don't like fantasy basketball! My brain hurts!"
But I guarantee that if you give the NBA enough time, if you can look into its heart and accept it for what it is, you can grow to love it the same way I have. Fantasy basketball is an awesome distraction that'll last until April, and it can occupy your time from the end of the football season to the beginning of baseball. I know a lot of you guys claim not to be fond of the NBA, but if there's any way to make regular season games matter, it's to have some of those players on your fantasy team. It may not be fantasy baseball or fantasy football, but there's a lot here, and I plan to write about it on this site as much as I can (until I burn myself out, or get preoccupied). Hopefully, I can help make the sport you hate the sport you mildly dislike, if only because it's the only legitimate fantasy sport going. After all, whether we like the NBA or not, I think we can all agree that fantasy hockey blows. (Just kidding! But seriously, penalty box minutes shouldn't be a good thing.)
Expect some previews in the near future.