The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics face off tonight in game 1 of the NBA Finals. These two storied franchises will be meeting for the 12th time in NBA Finals history. Twenty-five years ago I would've been counting down the hours and minutes until tip-off time. Nowadays I'm nothing more than a casual observer.
I grew up LOVING the NBA. I started following the Lakers closely in Magic Johnson's rookie season of 1979-80. I became a fan of Johnson's during his days at Michigan State and when the Lakers drafted him I became a Lakers fan. The Lakers ended up winning the NBA title that season against Philadelphia in a classic game 6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had severely sprained his ankle in a game 5 Laker win and was unable to play in game 6. Magic - a guard - actually started at center in game 6, played every position during the course of that game, and led the Lakers to a convincing win to wrap up the championship. I remember it like it was yesterday.
The Lakers would go on to win the championship 5 times in 8 appearances during the '80s. Three of the matchups were against the Celtics. Those were epic matchups. The names of the participants read like a Hall of Fame roster: Magic, Bird, Kareem, Parish, Worthy, McHale. There were other notable players like Bob McAdoo, Mychal Thompson, Danny Ainge, Gerald Henderson, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis and Bill Walton. The Lakers beat the Celtics twice in their three matchups for the title in the '80s. I'm having flashbacks of some moments during those games as I write this. Those were, in my opinion, the glory days of the NBA. And the Lakers and Celtics epitomized TEAM basketball.
But something changed along the way. All those great players and others from around the league slowly began to retire. What they were replaced with were a bunch of players more interested in getting their highlights shown on Sportscenter. Unselfish team basketball was replaced by ball-hogging idiots more interested in making a spectacular slam dunk or shooting three-pointers all night long. It slowly began to turn me off. And I can honestly say I have zero interest now in watching professional basketball.
I may tune in to the Lakers/Celtics series a few times in the next few days for nostalgic reasons. But the bottom line is I miss the way it was. I wish I cared, but I don't.