This is going to be a bad season—or so many seem to say.
For months, people have clamored for the NBA to resume, and now, we are a month away from the NBA restart. It is odd and surprising because instead of enthusiasm from excited fans, palpable is the pall of gloom looming across the horizon, feeding on fans who are expecting to be disappointed. The air is thick with talk of how the NBA restart sets the league for a disappointing conclusion.
Curious to the opinion of naysayers, I ask them why they think this is this going to be a bad NBA season.
They say winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in this ‘new normal’ sometime late September or mid-October is a mere token championship. It does not carry the same prestige as the championships won from the ‘old normal’. This bitterness is always expected from people fearful their favorite team will not win this season.
Others think this is all a charade to legitimize the coronation of a pre-ordained champion.
Some believe that the restart is the NBA merely trying to get it (season) over with.
Some people fear basketball games won’t be as exciting because players will play basketball with caution—physical contact will be diminished (if not overtly avoided), more players taking jump shots, and defense will be for show - not to prevent injuries but to minimize contact hoping this will improve their chances of staying uninfected.
I am an NBA fan and I am not worried about a bad season, and even if, in retrospect, it is valid to say it was a bad season, I think this is not the problem. The real problem is having bad fans.
I think it is being a bad fan when you disparage a championship won by the deserving.
I think it is being a bad fan when you belittle the best efforts of those who possess the expertise and know-how and are best-suited to come up with the best possible plan considering this unforeseen situation the NBA and the world are facing.
I think it is being a bad fan when you expect a professional athlete—who has been working hard despite the break using the limited means available to him when the gym was closed and players were not allowed to work out with one another to stay in basketball shape—to perform under par and question his professionalism and ethics.
I think it is being a bad fan expecting the league to fail.
Even if it is true that this is a bad season for the NBA, the league is capable of doing it better the next time around. For bad fans, this is not the case, because bad fans are set on being bad. They’ve been around for quite a while. Their numbers are growing and they help create a toxic environment that tarnishes what should be a wholesome, entertaining sporting experience. Promoting the idea that this is going to be a bad NBA season is not the first time bad fans have mongered unsavory notions.
Bad fans are those who think picking a different favorite team is a sin for which a fan should be chastised and punished. Bad fans are those who don’t have a sense of what ‘humility in defeat’ is.
There was a time when fans are buoyed by a healthy sense of sporting rivalry. There was a time when the word ‘hate’ is too strong a word to use in sports. Now, fans do not only brand others as ‘haters’, some are even proud to be one, and that is being a bad fan.
It is not going to be a bad season, not with league officials, team owners, coaches, basketball players, and support teams doing their best to fulfill the promise they made to the public of providing high-level professional basketball despite all the difficult and trying circumstances surrounding the NBA that have threatened to re-shape its immediate and long-term future.
True, it is going to be a different season. Perhaps it is going to be a landmark season. For sure, it is going to be a season of learning, transition, and adapting to new conditions. It is going to be a first-of-its-kind season.
There are many ways we can hope to describe this NBA season, but bad is not one of them.
But fans who speak ill of the league and its players when it is undeserved, fans who have very little faith yet teeming in cynicism, fans who continue to spread unpleasant ideas just to be disputatious, there is only one way to describe them.