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CelticsLogoIC.jpgThis year’s NBA Basketball Finals show was a big Prime Time event for ABC and ESPN. It was scheduled to go up against the other networks on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for two weeks. It went head-to-head against everything from “Ugly Betty” to “Family Guy”, from “Grey’s Anatomy” to Tiger’s knee, from from “Cold Case” to “CSI”.
On each of the six nights, there was the “Countdown” show, the pre-game festivities and finally the game itself. Then there was the post-game analysis, highlights (or lowlights if you were a Lakers fan), interviews and instant nostalgia that has become a trademark of our time.
And then last night, as the big celebration of the championship was pending, the anti-climax was as disappointing as it was embarrassing, as the supposed role models showed they were the new Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time stars.
Why?


The new champs’ language was bad. It was really bad. It was bleeping bad. In fact, ABC had to bleep it out so much that it felt like there was a short in the sound of my digital tuner. Several of the Celtics couldn’t seem to high five or hug each other without cussing. And one of them couldn’t even talk without speaking the vilest–the most vile of the vile–cusswords as if it was part of his breathing pattern.
“I got my own. I got my own,” Kevin Garnett said. “I hope we made you proud.” I was embarrassed, and erased the recording that I was going to share with my kids later. He was as selfish as he was vulgar. The well-placed sound-mikes near the bench became worthless to ABC as they the celebration started to sound like a parent-advisory rap CD.
For most of us on the East Coast, I suppose most of our kids had gone to bed by then, but that’s beside the point. I’m not an old-fashioned guy complaining about tattoos, post-game dress code or proper English in interviews. Nope. I’m concerned that outside of the loyal hometown folks, basketball players will not become inspirations to a next generation until their character somehow catches up to their talent, and until the league finds a way to deal with it.
And after the steroid issue in baseball, auto racers turning into boxers, boxing turning into the Lost Sport, and football teams known more for their police records than their receiving stats, we may someday find that a newer generation of kids will just not be all that interested in sports figures at all. And that will bring worse consequences than just some lower TV ratings for a major franchise.
To be fair, Kobe and crew were gracious in defeat. But somehow I don’t think that will raise much interest. It made me wonder if that old saying about “…it’s how you play the game” is all but dead.

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