I used to be an NBA fan — a Philadelphia 76ers fan, to be exact. Before the league was a political breeding ground for basketball players who had classmates do their homework in college to act like political pundits, the NBA was a beautiful thing. That was back when it was a game, nothing more.
I have vivid memories of the first round of the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs. I was 13, and I went to the last game of the series — Sixers as the eighth seed, Chicago Bulls as the number one. It was the year the talented Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tragically tore his ACL in his left knee.
The Sixers won 4 to 2, with the crowd electric in game six having captured its first series victory since 2003 against the New Orleans Hornets. It was an insane upset. The confetti streamed down as the theme song roared in surround-sound to a packed in-crowd, with tens of thousands of fans high-fiving in euphoric drunkenness.
No one cared what was going on in Washington, or if Andre Igoudala said his praises to some political cult in his postgame interview with ESPN. It was basketball. That’s all it was.
Times have changed. I can’t watch it anymore. In the four years of the Trump presidency — especially after George Floyd’s unfortunate death led to a Black Lives Matter Marxist takeover of civil society — the NBA became unbearable and unwatchable.
Sports consumers like me traditionally seek the simple things. We’re an uncomplicated bunch of jersey-wearing buffoons with cheap earbuds who spill ketchup on themselves while entranced in a game, staring off into the distance. But all of the simple pleasures we took for granted have been lit up with a match and set on fire. Gone. Poof. Pick your tribe, they say. Join us or join nothing at all, they say.
Sports fans seek a good bar to watch. A place where you do not have to cover your face with a piece of plastic like it’s a police state. Given the perpetual COVID-19 lockdowns the government took upon itself, this pleasure took a major abridgment, and we can only hope it will all come back. God knows when.
But this is only touching the surface, as you know. Most of all, true sports fans seek one thing and one thing only — to watch the game and become involved in the thrilling phenomenon. We want to watch a ball moving back and forth, net-to-net, a crowd gone wild. Popcorn, cheesesteaks, Bud Light, cheerleaders. America being America.
The crowds are limited now, though, and seldom can a basketball fan turn on the television or sit in a social-distanced section and not be bombarded with political messaging bound to alienate more Americans who used to pay their hard-earned cash to unwind after a day of slog, to pay some money and lose ourselves in an artificial reality worth visiting.
Try to unwind, though, watching the NBA today. You simply can’t, unless you’re the type who likes to sing the “black national anthem” and talk about race all the time like your biology defines your worldview.
It is a neverending protest, a Black Lives Matter trilogy with a bunch of dudes who have dribbled basketballs their whole lives attempting to lecture the American people on who they should vote for, who they should be, what they should think, how they should act. It is no wonder the league used arenas and facilities as voting booths in the 2020 presidential election, advertising it to no end with shirts and kneeling for the national anthem — a ballad we patriotic Americans feel adjoined to. Do they picture us as sheep following their millions to the grave?
The stars of today are far too arrogant and complacent. They consider themselves martyrs for political causes we fans do not want mixing into our entertainment. Those lives are meant to be separate from the real world.
The ratings show this. As The Athletic reported, the league averaged only 2.83 million viewers in its recent games. The past two NBA finals series viewership plummeted. Last year’s matchup was down 51 percent. The last game was down 70 percent year-over-year. A poll taken in September found 39 percent of respondents saying the NBA has become overly political.
The time is over for conservatives to retain nostalgia formerly attached to today’s twisted and partisan sports world. The left will continue to overhaul every institution we once determined off-limits. Your favorite team has been compromised by woke millennials. Your church, synagogue, local dive, fast-food craving, your high school — the left has captured it all.
The corporations of today have determined that they wish to give in to a cause interested in reshaping American life to resemble a nation completely different from the one we all grew up in. It’s a world where supporting the president means you are a racist. If you say the wrong thing, you’re canceled. You just want to watch a basketball game and your silence is supposedly indicative of “systemic racism” manifested in the white man’s heart. They think they own you.
I won’t be sitting on the sidelines for now. If LeBron James wants to romanticize the idea of threatening police officers who protect and serve our afflicted and now warzone communities, so be it. Go ahead, King James. Many of us are changing the channel, or just turning off the clicker altogether.
See, James is missing a critical part of the picture in his whole tirade. LeBron was beloved on a bipartisan level and called “King James” because he is good at basketball. Now, it seems the man actually deems himself a king — a thought leader — and to that he is sorely mistaken. LeBron is no king.
Americans are good people. People who watch sports are good people. But the elites running this country have declared war on us all — and their presumption we will stay enthralled to their politicized crap show is a false one.