There will be an amazing basketball game at The Palestra on Sunday night, but it won’t mean what it should.
Last week word got out via Kate Fagan of philly.com that there would be a game played at the Palestra featuring a ton of NBA stars called “The Battle For I-95.”
It will feature a team made up of players who were born or played here and are currently playing the NBA. They will face a team of all-stars made up of the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Kevin Durant (who has since dropped out), Chris Paul and more. I’ve got no idea what James, who is from Akron has to do with I-95, but whatever. This is Melo’s team, he can do whatever he wants.
Some of the best NBA players alive, playing in the only basketball venue in Philadelphia that really matters. This would be almost an NBA all-star game, played right here.
I got excited. So excited. I waited at my computer to buy tickets for hours. I got a pair, and even though they were way upstairs, I was excited just to be in the building (since then I found out I would not be attending, as I will be on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia at 6:30pm on Sunday battling my father in Full Contact, but you get the picture).
It hit me today that it’s not nearly as exciting as it should be. It’s mostly sad.
This game should be one of those things that ignites passion for NBA basketball for the upcoming season. For a league that had one of their best seasons in ages, with ratings reaching record highs. In a city that has seen a rebirth (hopefully) of a Sixers franchise under Doug Collins. Once again, a team that matters.
It comes the same week that the NBA postpones training camps.
This game should be a national story that last season wasn’t a fluke, and the NBA is back. With players who play the game the right way, and do it because they love it. Locally it should be a sign that Philly is a basketball town, and you know what, the Sixers gave Lebron and the Heat all they could handle last season.
But it isn’t. It isn’t any of that.
It’s the last pro basketball we’ll see in this town for months. Maybe over a year. The NBA is mired in a lockout that many believe will last the entire season. And it’s all so stupid. It’s sad and stupid.
I know they will play NBA basketball again eventually. The owners know it. The players know it. Still they negotiate without a sense of urgency. Still they’ll wait till they miss games, and worse a season. Both sides more concerned with winning the negotiation than playing basketball again.
Remember when you were in college and you had a huge paper to write? Everyone waited till the last minute in different ways. For some, the last minute was a few days before. For many, the last minute was literally the last minute, and included an all-nighter just to get it done. For the NBA, it’s not the last minute until the deadline passes, you flunk the course and threatened to get kicked out of school. That’s when they’ll decide to write the paper.
It hurts the teams. It hurts the players. Most of all, it hurts the fans. At the end of the day those owners and those players will still be wildly rich.
This is my website. I’m a huge Sixers fan and my favorite sport is the NBA, and this is all I’ve got to write about. That’s awful.
Missing a season, even a partial season will do damage to the league and it’s an image that will be hard to repair. We’re not talking about the NFL. The NBA is not a league that’s thriving. Last year was amazing, but it was a building block to better things, not the top of the mountain. That will all be lost. Because of greed and pride.
The Battle For I-95 will likely be pretty awesome on Sunday. If you’re going, enjoy it. It’s the last time we’ll see anything like it in this town for far too long.