SPORTS DOCTOR- Offensive: NBA more like a circus than sport

Here's a joke: Why will Jack Nicholson sit in the front row at the NBA finals? To keep his face on television.

Honestly, why else would he be there? The NBA playoffs start this Saturday, and I can't name one person who's interested, much less excited. I'll bet you know why.

The NBA is an abomination, not because of point shaving, arrests, or even Isiah Thomas– it's its resemblance to a game that offers stuffed animals as prizes, a combination of county fair and circus acts. It's only a matter of time until the NBA endorses funnel cakes.

It's easy to blame the NBA's collapse on baggy shorts (horrors!), but I thank the Lord I've never seen Shaquille O'Neal playing in Daisy Dukes. (I don't think I'm alone on that one.)

If one could plumb the NBA's depths, such as they are, one would find its undoing rests irrevocably on one man's shoulders. Blasphemous as it may seem to some, I'm willing to tell the truth.

Michael Jordan was the ruination of basketball.

This isn't a column about MJ, but his Airness is almost singularly responsible for making an entire team superfluous. Jordan's hang time may have wowed the crowd, but John Stuart Mill he ain't.

When people talk about the NBA, they use words such as "boring," "mind-numbing," and "lame." It's a conundrum. LeBron, Kobe, and Carmelo play the same game Michael Jordan played. If Jordan's play were the most exciting the NBA had ever seen, why the current disillusionment?

Running and dunking, running and dunking: how much can one watch without retching?

If one wants airborne prowess, Tony Hawk still does it better than Kobe Bryant.

Although it's not my favorite thing, basketball in and of itself doesn't suck. (It's difficult to write about basketball without relying on slang.) I watched a little March Madness, and despite my better judgment, I found myself drawn into the competitive atmosphere.

It must have been the pep bands. It's hard to be bored when there's a band.

I won't add to the thousand columns touting the NCAA's superiority over the NBA. The arguments are well known and irrefutable. Well-executed defense, scrappy play, and motion offense are hallmarks of college ball, and the NBA seems happy enough to leave them there.

But these are the playoffs. Even if the regular season is merely a chance for Kobe to score 315 points per game, surely the finals have to offer something sports-like, right?

Not really. When the Atlanta Hawks have a 37-43 record, how sports-like can it be? The Southeast division has to be represented, but a losing team in the playoffs? I can hardly contain my excitement. Chances are the Hawks will walk away without a stuffed penguin for their trouble.

Still, some teams stand out. The Celtics, for instance: with a 64-16 record, they must have something going for them besides the memory of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. 

Even though the Celtics have the NBA's best record, they beat the Hawks by only 10 points on April 12. Even with the NBA's best preventive defense, Boston was outscored in the third quarter, 30-19.

That this defense, second team or not, couldn't prevent the marginal Hawks from shooting 52 percent in the third quarter exemplifies the truth about professional basketball. The NBA is all about offense, offense is all about superstars, and the superstars are all about themselves.

What the NBA doesn't realize is that 15 years of running and dunking have bored the heck out of almost everyone who once liked basketball. The playoffs, rather than showcasing team play, are simply an opportunity for Jordan's offspring to outdunk each other.

Selfishness and showboating don't equal sport, and basketball has turned into a game only, with little to offer in the way of genuine competition. If Kevin Garnett wants to swing from hoops, he should try gymnastics.

I can already see it: Jordan's Funnel Cakes: They're Lighter than Air!